Bobby Darin

Chess Men: Pulling Out The Biopic Tropes

‘Who Do You Love,’ about the Jewish brothers behind
a legendary R&B label, is pleasant but inconsequential.

04/07/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

Is there any genre of film that is as hidebound, as resistant to change as the biopic? Even the good ones stick pretty closely to formula: he/she had a terrible/wonderful childhood, learned a trade/craft/art, wrote/painted/fought many masterpieces and died happy/unfulfilled, but leaving the world a rich legacy of something or other. Add in a struggle for love or acceptance for his/her innovation or a battle with substance abuse and you’ve got a film about the Ritz Brothers or the inventor of Ritz Crackers.
 

Robert Randolph as Bo Diddley in the biopic about record producer Leonard Chess.

All The King’s Men

08/22/2001
Staff Writer
When two Jewish songwriters teamed up with a former “Shabbos goy” in 1956, it helped change the face of popular music. The “Shabbos goy” was Elvis Presley (who died 24 years ago last week). When Elvis covered “Hound Dog,” a rhythm-and-blues song composed by Mike Stoller and Jerry Leiber — originally recorded in 1953 by Big Mama Thornton — it propelled the young Presley’s career to new heights. But perhaps equally as important, it brought Leiber and Stoller to the attention of top music executives.
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