Sparkle 1976

I am very excited for the remake of this movie to come out in August this year, starring Jordin Sparks, Carmen Ejogo, Tika Sumpter and Whitney Houston.( Check out the trailer I put up here) I thought to refresh everybody’s memories ahead I would put a summary of the 1976 version up.

I have seen it and I thought it is a great musical movie. I am looking forward to seeing what they changed and how they changed it. Unfortunately the new movie will be Whitney’s last one and also very unfortunate is that one of my idols, Aaliyah won’t be in it as originally planned before her tragic dead in 2001. However, I am sure it will be a great movie, so look out:)

Sparkle is a 1976 American film directed by Sam O’Steen and released by Warner Bros. Pictures. Inspired by The Supremes, Sparkle is a period film set in Harlem, New York during the late 1950s and early 1960s which follows the rough lives and careers of singer Sparkle Williams and her family and friends.

The film stars Philip Michael Thomas (later of Miami Vice fame), Irene Cara, Lonette McKee, Dwan Smith, Mary Alice, Dorian Harewood, and Tony King. Curtis Mayfield served as the composer and producer of Sparkle’s songs and score.


The movie starts at 1958’s Harlem, New York. The Williams sisters – Sister (Lonette McKee), Dolores (Dwan Smith), and Sparkle (Irene Cara) – are singers in their local church’s teenagers’ choir along with their friends Stix (Philip Michael Thomas) and Levi (Dorian Harewood). The girls’ mother, Effie (Mary Alice), works hard as a maid for the Gerber family on Long Island and struggles to keep her girls, especially the “high-spirited” Sister, safe. Stix, a budding songwriter who is in love with Sparkle, wants to start a group, and arranges the five of them into a quintet called “The Hearts”. The Hearts enter a local talent show contest, which they win with the help of Sister’s stage appeal. Shortly afterwards, however, Levi drops out of the group so that he can become an important man in the operations of local gangster Satin (Tony King).

Stix decides to repackage the group as an all-girl trio, appointing Sister lead singer and reducing his role in the act to manager and songwriter. The girls, now known as “Sister & the Sisters”, debut at the seedy Shan-Doo Club; their immediate success gains them a position as regular performers there. Satin, invited to the show by Levi, takes up with Sister, who leaves home to move in with him. Sister begins showing up at the Shan-Doo with bruises from Satin’s abuse and begins taking cocaine. When Dolores learns that Satin has gotten her hooked on drugs, she plots revenge, coming on to one of Satin’s flunkies in order to set the kingpin up. Dolores calls the police to let them know when and where Satin’s next drug pick-up will be, but Levi is the one caught in the sting. Regretful and weary of life in Harlem, Dolores packs up and leaves home in order to pursue her dreams of racial equality.

Sister’s drug use and her life in the “big time” caused her to relinquish her position as lead singer of the group, and a frustrated Stix gives up on music. He leaves Harlem to work in construction upstate, breaking Sparkle’s heart in the process. Several months later, Sister has died of drug overdose, and Stix reconciles with Sparkle after her funeral. By this time, he has moved back to New York and gained employment with a record label, and offers to produce Sparkle as a solo star. He borrows money from Effie’s employer Max Gerber (Paul Lambert) to fund a recording session, and Sparkle’s first single becomes a smash hit. Stix lands Sparkle a gig at Carnegie Hall as Ray Charles’ opening act, but finds himself kidnapped by Gerber’s partners in the Mafia for refusing to agree to a partnership in owning the rights to Sparkle’s fame. Despite being threatened with death, however, Stix refuses to give in, and the impressed Gerber lets Stix go free. Stix arrives at Carnegie Hall just in time to see Sparkle finish her set.

Directed by Sam O’Steen
Produced by Howard Rosenman
Written by Joel Schumacher
Howard Rosenman
Starring Philip M. Thomas
Irene Cara
Lonette McKee
Dwan Smith
Mary Alice
Dorian Harewood
Tony King
Music by Curtis Mayfield
Cinematography Bruce Surtees
Studio RSO
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date(s) April 7, 1976
Running time 98 min.
Language English

~ by Colorful Soul on 04/02/2012.

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