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The Josephine Baker Story [Blu-ray] (2012)

Ruben Blades , Jr. Louis Gossett , Brian Gibson  |  R |  Blu-ray
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)

List Price: $14.98
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Product Details

  • Actors: Ruben Blades, Jr. Louis Gossett, Craig T. Nelson, David Dukes, Lynn Whitfield
  • Directors: Brian Gibson
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Blu-ray, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Spanish, French
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: HBO Studios
  • DVD Release Date: January 17, 2012
  • Run Time: 131 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005ERX22C
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #228,105 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Josephine Baker Story [Blu-ray]" on IMDb

Special Features

Audio Commentary with Lynn Whitfield, writer Ron Hutchinson, and associate producer Alisa Taylor

Editorial Reviews

Outrageous, shocking, sensational – Josephine Baker (Lynn Whitfield) was born poor, but achieved fame and fortune through her sizzlingly exotic and erotic performances. Starting life on the American Vaudeville circuit, success takes Josephine to Paris where her semi-nude dancing causes an international sensation. Through her marriages to an Italian pseudo-count (Ruben Blades) and orchestra leader (David Dukes), to her bond with army officer Sidney Williams (Louis Gosset, Jr.), Josephine's life is a roller coaster ride of love and rejection from both her lovers and her country. But semi-nude or head to toe in sequins; in battle fatigues or rags – her beauty and ambition ensured that Josephine Baker will always be remembered as the first, and possibly most loved, truly international star.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Probably wouldn't have worked with kiwi fruit June 1, 2003
Format:DVD
THE JOSEPHINE BAKER STORY is a fast-forward, 2-hour plus life synopsis of the celebrated black entertainer from 1917, when she was eleven and running from murderous racial violence in St. Louis, to her death in 1975 in Paris. Lynn Whitfield stars in this HBO production.
The film manages to catch the key points of her life: early vaudeville gigs in the U.S. as a very young girl, notoriety as an exotic dancer in 1920's Paris, rise to major world stardom in the late 20's/early 30's, disastrous return to the U.S. entertainment circuit in the late 30's, French Resistance war hero, a near-fatality from peritonitis, entertainer of U.S. troops in North Africa, post-war civil rights champion back in the U.S., loving mother of a dozen, adopted, multi-racial children on her French estate, financial destitution in the late 60's, and resurrection in the 70's with the help of Prince and Princess Rainier of Monaco.
Since TJBS covers so many decades and events in such short a time, much is lost: the marriage to her first and third husbands (Willie Wells and Jean Lion respectively), her brief film career, her stint as a Red Cross nurse after the Nazi occupation of Belgium, her many legal imbroglios, her late-life relationship with American artist Robert Brady, and her presence in the 1963 Washington D.C. civil rights march led by Martin Luther King. Sometimes the viewer feels shortchanged, as when the scene shifts from late 30's New York to wartime France to 1942 North Africa in the blink of an eye. (Don't go to the kitchen for that pastrami sandwich and beer - you may miss something.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Cinamatic masterpiece April 13, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
There are very few times that a movie can hold a flame to the life of the actual person that is intended to be portrayed but this movie does just that. It gives the ultimate respect and dignity that an artist of this calibur truly deserves. Her life is artfully displayed through from her turbulant rise to fame to her rocky downfall. It is a movie that can be enjoyed on all too many levels and should be marked as an ethereal masterpiece.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A movie I rented for a naughty reason September 24, 2004
By Tim
Format:DVD
I had ignored this movie on the rental shelf many times, thinking that it would be a very boreing bio about a forgotten old actress. Then one day I examined the pictures on the box and notices the star wearing the sexy "banana suit". So of-course, I rented it immediately !

It turned out to be a beautiful movie about the life of a fallen angel/fallen hero. It shows you how she became one of the richest black women in showbusiness, a member of the resistance in World War 2, and a fighter for civil rights.

I noticed a lot of symbolism in this movie. Like during the first 5 minutes of the movie, she does her provacative topless night dance. If you look really deep, you won't just focus on her body....what you will begin to focus on is HER EYES, her wild untameable eyes. During her life she was untameable, always fighting, not willing to giveup.

The star Lynn Whitfield is very entoxicating. If you're a guy, she'll make you forget all about Hally Berry.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A life worth remembering August 18, 2006
Format:DVD
Buoyed by a strong performance from Lynn Whitfield, this HBO film touches on the highlights of La Baker's career and life. Since I didn't know much about her life, most everything in the film was new to me. Even though it doesn't delve too deeply into any one area, we experience her childhood motivations, marriage tribulations, career successes and love of children. We also get some distinct impressions that she left the United States for France because the racism and oppression in the US were unbearable. Apparently being African-American qualified her to entertain folks, but not to enter by the same door or eat at the same tables as them. She married a Caucasian, "no `count Count" from Italy and adopted a "rainbow" of children from around the world. Throughout her life, she sought to break down racial barriers and fight racism in her own, not insignificant way. While she will be remembered as an exotic dancer, it is her struggle with racism on which this film justifiably focuses. HBO seems to have a knack for making above-average biopics that probably would not stand a chance in theaters. This stands alongside "Gia," "Norma Jean and Marilyn," and others as a well-made chronicle of a life well worth remembering.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully acted piece of fiction May 17, 2008
Format:VHS Tape
Any time a movie is made about a real person, there will be complaints that certain things are not correct. We all know that events get changed, rearranged or omitted for the sake of moving a story along. But this isn't a complaint about small details being omitted or changed. This is a complaint about a story that is barely true.

I assume that Josephine's story was rewritten to make her a more likable person. By many accounts, she was both barely tolerable and extremely lovable, both brilliant and self-destructive, loving to a point of fault and downright disloyal, extremely insightful and downright delusional. Baker showed strong signs of what we now know is bipolar disorder. But rather than showing us the story of a woman whose inner demons and manic depression nearly swallowed her whole, we get poor, poor Josephine constantly falling victim to a series of unfortunate events and being blacklisted because of her participation in the civil rights movement. Nothing is ever Josephine's fault - not her exile from the United States (thanks to her pro-communist comments), nor her failed marriages (to men whom she abused and were abusive in return), nor her eventually losing Les Milandes (which was saved on four separate occasions before finally being sold).

Additionally, this film suggests that Baker was driven by racism and the desire to prove to a Jim Crow America that a black woman could be as successful and beloved as a white woman. I'm sure this was partially true. However, Baker had an streak of self-hatred in her, best evidenced by the constant changing of her father's race to depict herself as being biracial. (At one point, she went on record as saying he was a Spanish Jew.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting Life
Interesting contrast in opportunities for Blacks in France and the U.S.
Published 7 days ago by George R. Potvin
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I love this story I enjoyed watching it thank you
Published 9 days ago by sandra scott
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
THANK YOU LOVED IT!
Published 14 days ago by Gail
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great movie... Good Price.....
Published 17 days ago by Yolanda A. Bullock
5.0 out of 5 stars awesome movie
it is a wonderful story but I think a lot of people overlooked it. she is one of the most wonderful woman in history she's not a saint or a politician but she did her best to try... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Laura Bobbitt
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring movie
I've always loved this movie. The story is inspiring and captivating. I'm happy to have owned it in the past on VHS and now DVD.
Published 3 months ago by Chaz
4.0 out of 5 stars Worked for a BHM Assignment
I ordered this movie for my daughter to help her better understand who Josephine Baker was (this was for a BHM assignment). She enjoyed it although it was a little long.
Published 5 months ago by BluJ301
4.0 out of 5 stars jb story
i got the movie just in time to wrap for my mom she really loved it. its what she wanted
Published 5 months ago by tyb
5.0 out of 5 stars Halle berry
Enjoyed movie watched it it twice already good story line one of Halle Berry best pics it really shows what talented actors had to through in those times
Published 6 months ago by Dawn Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars An INSTANT Classic!
An INSTANT classic, Movie here.
If you LOVE movies like The color Purple, & The Help, then this is for YOU. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Mrs. International 2015
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