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Lady Sings the Blues (1972)

As an amalgamation of Billie Holiday’s three husbands, Billy Dee Williams’ rapport with Diana Ross is one of the key factors in making this musical biography a success. He connects with her from the first moment and plays with a freshness that gives their love scenes an improvisatory feeling. The great singer’s autobiography had been a hot property in Hollywood since its publication in 1956, with Dorothy Dandridge, Diahann Carroll and Diana Sands among those touted for the role. When Motown founder Berry Gordy joined the production team, he cast his protegee, Ross, in her feature film debut. Casting her leading man became crucial, and Williams was the clear-cut choice as soon as the cameras rolled for his screen test.

d. Sidney J. Furie, 144m, DCP