Saturday, September 18, 2010
A MAN CALLED ADAM
This is an odd movie, it combines 1960's Black politics and the world of Jazz music. The two intersect in A Man Called Adam with Sammy Davis, Jr. playing the titular character. Since I'm not Black and not a Jazz Aficionado, while watching A Man Called Adam, I often felt Walter from The Big Lebowski was going to jump out and yell at me "You're out of your element!"
Sammy Davis, Jr.'s character is a very unhappy man, to say the least, and he takes out his unhappiness on his fans and his close friends. A few years previous, Sammy had some problems with racism. He reacted by getting drunk and while driving he had an auto accident which killed his wife and daughter. Sammy meets a woman (Cicely Tyson) who practices Martin Luther King's non-violent approach to racism and falls in love with her. Sammy tries to be a better man and be more like her, which leads him to refuse to act when another racist incident occurs. This sends Sammy into a tailspin, where (as far as I can tell) he drinks himself to death....the movie has a very clichéd ending with him blowing his last notes on stage, collapsing and dying.....see I told you it was clichéd.
I was never really sure if Sammy was a mean drunk before the accident or only after the accident. His self destructive attitude and pushing away of anyone who got close to him appeared to be a defense mechanism. Yet, when he does find true love and things don't work out perfect for him, he goes right back to square one, making his character appear more flawed than the external events encountered.
Sammy sings "I Want To Be Wanted" and "Whisper of One", but Nat Adderley does the "ghost work" for Sammy's horn playing. Louis Armstrong plays an older jazz musician, who is more interested in entertaining than in race relationships, and sings "Someday Sweetheart" and "Back of Town Blues". Mel Torme is featured at a party singing "All That Jazz". Frank Sinatra, Jr. was the surprise in a A Man Called Adam, as he was very convincing playing Sammy's young protégé. The soundtrack to the movie was composed by jazz man Benny Carter. There are other jazz men in this movie, but since I can't positively identify them, I'll leave it up to all of you Jazz Cats to pick them out yourselves when you watch A Man Called Adam.
I couldn't find a trailer for the movie, but I did find the clip below of Mel Torme singing "All That Jazz" from A Man Called Adam.