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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Dorothy Dandridge's courageous efforts to break the entertainment world's color barrier during the 1940s and '50s prove the value of demanding respect and equal treatment for all.
Positive Role Models
While defiant and strong in her desire for racial justice, Dandridge is frequently victimized or exploited by family members, lovers, and business colleagues. She never develops a capacity for survival under difficult circumstances and ultimately is unable to save herself. Parental figures are shown as negligent and/or abusive. White bigotry and discrimination against African Americans is shown throughout.
Violence & Scariness
In one harrowing sequence, a very young Dandridge is viciously assaulted (with sexual implications) by a female guardian. She later suffers a brutal and bloody beating at the hands of a husband. A discussion of rape.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
There are numerous sexual scenes which include passionate kissing, some fondling of breasts, undressing, seduction, and an implied lesbian relationship. A lengthy sequence takes place on Dandridge's wedding night when she is nervous and unable to respond to her husband's gentle advances. Though there's lots of revealing clothing, provocative behavior, and talk of sex, there's no actual nudity or overt sexual activity.
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Occasional swearing including: "f--k," "s--t," "stick it to you," "drop our panties," and "a--hole." Set in the 1940s and '50s, African Americans are called "negroes" and "colored" throughout.
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Products & Purchases
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Considerable social drinking, occasional drunkenness (some featured characters are portrayed as alcoholics), smoking, and abuse of prescription pills.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Dorothy Dandridge, an accomplished African-American singer-actress of the 1940s, '50s, and '60s is a tragic figure and this film attempts to track her downward spiral by following the events, circumstances, and characters who impacted her life. Racial discrimination and exploitation of a talented and beautiful woman are primary elements in this story. Scenes between Dandridge and her only child, an autistic daughter, are heartrending and sad. There is an intense early sequence in which Dandridge is viciously assaulted in the guise of an examination by sadistic guardian and a later scene in which she is beaten by a husband. Characters consume alcohol throughout, and her eventual dependence on prescription drugs plays a significant part in the story's resolution. There are occasional obscenities, including "f--k," "s--t," and African-Americans are referred to as "colored" or "negroes" throughout. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
In INTRODUCING DOROTHY DANDRIDGE, Halle Berry skillfully brings the tragic singer-actress to life. The story and most of the characters are familiar -- show biz hopeful struggles and meets with some success -- but the additional element of the racial boundaries which contained Dandridge's rise to near-stardom, provides a little-seen picture of prejudice in even the uppermost levels of mid-20th century society.
There's a certain irony to the fact that though Dorothy Dandridge was the first African-American woman to be nominated for an Academy Award as leading actress, it wasn't until a half-century later that Halle Berry was the first to win the award for her performance in Monster's Ball. Dorothy Dandridge is not a household name, still she merits this earnest look. Older teens will probably appreciate the "rags-to-riches-to-rags" story.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.