• Post category:Movies
  • Post last modified:May 5, 2021

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom


In 1920s Chicago, a band of Black musicians gather for a recording session together with a legendary, headstrong singer (Viola Davis). A fine adaptation of a play that rarely abandons its stage origins but still feels anything but bound to them. The period and its racism is convincingly depicted, but also the power struggle between artists and managers; a simple story, but it packs a punch. Above all, the film will be remembered as Chadwick Boseman’s last. He’s impressive as a wildly talented but arrogant young trumpeter; Davis is even better as the imposing ”Mother of the Blues”, who knows that nothing comes easy.

2020-U.S. 94 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Todd Black, Denzel Washington, Dany Wolf. Directed by George C. Wolfe. Screenplay: Ruben Santiago-Hudson. Play: August Wilson. Music: Branford Marsalis. Costume Design: Ann Roth. Cast: Viola Davis (Ma Rainey), Chadwick Boseman (Levee), Glynn Turman (Toledo), Colman Domingo, Michael Potts, Taylour Paige.

Oscars: Best Costume Design, Makeup and Hairstyling. Golden Globe: Best Actor (Boseman). BAFTA: Best Costume Design, Make Up & Hair.

Last word: “[Changing the action from winter to summer] was a brilliant move, because the heat becomes another character. [The real Rainey] was described as always looking wet with sweat. Always. The heat provided me with an opportunity to show the depth of the character, her status game. She wears a hat and a fur even in the summer because they’re status symbols, and she won’t let them weigh her down.” (Davis, Wall Street Journal)



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