Sunday, June 6, 2010
AND THE BEAT GOES ON
THE SONNY & CHER STORY
I know that some of the facts in this biopic are not correct and that some events shown are not in the correct time line of the history of Sonny and Cher. However, that certainly did not keep me from thoroughly enjoying And The Beat Goes On (ATBGO). When you see facts below that are wrong, please remember, I'm only reporting the facts as ATBGO showed them to me.
The main reason I probably liked the movie so much is the two actors playing Sonny and Cher - Jay Underwood and Renee Faia are both fantastic in their roles, with Renee being somewhat more of a standout than Jay. That's not taking anything away from Jay who really does a good job. It's just Cher is such an interesting person that it seemed my attention was more drawn to her.
After watching ATBGO, much of what makes Cher tick is still a mystery to me. Some of that may be the result of the movie being based on Sonny's memoir "And The Beat Goes On", so we're really only getting Sonny's side of the story. Not that Cher comes off bad....anything but, in my opinion.
In Cher we see a person who is enormously talented and is guided by the somewhat Svengali Sonny. I really thought they both got something from the business part of their relationship. Cher got someone who knew how to guide a career and work the music business. Sonny got someone with talent and charisma, who he could attach himself to and have the music career he desired.
Besides the music/business side of their career, I also saw a couple who really loved each other and I don't think that love ever died, even though they eventually split up.
ATBGO starts with Sonny on David Letterman with Letterman asking him "What Happened". The movie then flashes us back to Sonny delivering meat, before he broke into the record business at Specialty Records as an A&R man. At Specialty, Sonny does a good job, even though we see one scene in which Sonny fails to get Little Richard (Walter Franks) to fulfill his contract with Specialty. This was during the period when Little Richard turned his back on Rock 'n' Roll and turned to religion. Little Richard consults Jesus for a decision...but Jesus says "No"!
Sonny eventually loses his job at Specialty, because according to the movie he had too much ambition. It seems he was pursuing other career lines, such as producing his own records, at the same time as his A&R job. Not long after Sonny is fired he meets Cher and they move in together. Sonny is out of work and needs a job to support him and Cher. He has always admired Phil Spector (Christian Leffler), so he goes to a Spector recording session and talks his way into a job as Spector's West Coast Promotion Man.
One day in the studio, Spector needs a demo vocal recorded, but his female singers have gone to lunch. Cher is in the studio hanging out with Sonny and Spector says he wants her to do the demo. Cher refuses to sing by herself, so Sonny stands by her side and sings a little bit with her until Cher's confidence is built up enough that she can sing on her own....thus we get the beginnings of the duo Sonny and Cher. Sonny really gets it into his head that he can make Cher into a star. When Spector won't record her, Sonny does it on his own and as they say....the rest is history.
After having huge success in music, Sonny wants to branch out and make a movie starring Cher, since The Beatles and Elvis had done movies. Cher tells him they're not that big of stars, but Sonny plows right along and almost loses everything they own in making the movie "Chasity". This is the first point in ATBGO that we see a strain on their relationship with Sonny eventually cheating on Cher.
Desperate for money, Sonny convinces Cher to take a job in Vegas opening for Pat Boone. Cher doesn't think they're "Vegas Acts", but eventually goes along with Sonny's plan. They're a big success in Vegas and this leads to, according to the movie, Sonny creating their TV show. With the TV show, having a child, and Sonny signing them up for more Vegas shows, we see the next strain on their marriage and Cher openly cheats on Sonny.
This is really the beginning of the end for the duo known as Sonny and Cher. The movie quickly moves to Cher suing Sonny for divorce over "involuntary servitude" and then skips ahead 14 years until their reunion duet on "The David Letterman Show" singing "I Got You Babe". As a coda to ATBGO, there is a short segment featuring the real Sonny Bono.
I enjoyed the movie from start to finish, and as far a biopics go, I thought it was one of the better ones, especially considering that it put 15 years into 85 minutes. You'll enjoy the movie more if you don't get too hung up on details; but after watching ATBGO, if you would like to read more on their career, the Wikipedia entry: Sonny and Cher, while incomplete, will still give you a rough idea of their career.