chapter  5
22 Pages

Entertainers

WithKaren Hollinger

This chapter focuses on the popular cycle of entertainer biopics that came to dominate the genre in the 1950s. It examines the basic formula of female entertainer biopics: the rise-fall-redemption/survival pattern. Entertainer biopics also fall into two major categories: singer and actress biopics. The chapter examines both studio era female singer biopics like Love Me or Leave Me (Charles Vidor, 1955) and I’ll Cry Tomorrow (Daniel Mann, 1955) as well as more recent films, such as Funny Girl (William Wyler, 1968), Lady Sings the Blues (Sidney J. Furie, 1968), Coal Miner’s Daughter (Michael Apted, 1980), The Karen Carpenter Story (Todd Haynes, 1988), and What’s Love Got To Do With It? (Brian Gibson, 1993). It then looks at the much more somber actress biopics, focusing on Mommie Dearest (Frank Perry, 1981) and Frances (Graeme Clifford, 1982).