This month marks the 20th Anniversary of Tina Turner’s biopic “What’s Love Got To Do With It” as well as its release on Blu-ray. Bassett, as Tina Turner asks the musical question “What’s Love Got to Do with It” in this 1993 film also starring Laurence Fishburne, Jenifer Lewis, and Khandi Alexander. The film tells the story of Tina Turner’s childhood as Anna Mae Bullock her move to St. Louis after her grandmother’s death to live with her mother, her meeting Ike Turner at a nightclub, her subsequent singing with Ike’s band, their marriage and divorce…
Continue reading for a review of the movie as well as HD videos!
By necessity, biopics have to leave out people and incidents, often combining several incidents into one or skipping several steps. In no way does a knowledge of Tina Turner”s life detract from the impact of this film. It’s a story of a woman’s determination, beating the odds, suffering, perseverance and ultimate success.
Ike’s and Tina’s marriage was pretty much a horror show. Ike was always controlling, to the detriment of his own career, and as he turned to drugs, his abuse of Tina escalated. The most stunning scene in the film (besides the performances, which are fantastic) occurs when the couple fights in a limo en route to a hotel. Ike becomes physical; Tina has discovered Buddhism and finally gets the courage to fight back. A bloody mess, she runs away from him with only 36 cents in her purse.
Angela Bassett gives a searing, electrifying performance as Turner. Her sinewy body is a great match for Turner’s, and she uses it to perfection in replicating Turner’s performances (Turner’s voice is used on the soundtrack). She shows the star’s vulnerability, fear, and internal strength throughout.
Bassett is matched by Laurence Fishburne’s terrifying performance as Ike. Fishburne seethes with manipulation and anger, even in scenes where he’s being “nice.” When Ike loses his temper, you can see how he can’t stop and the violence just gets worth. A brilliant performance.
The latter part of Tina Turner’s life is not explored, but while she always remained popular in Europe, it was a long time before she could get a recording contract here after some failed recordings. Today she remains one of the greatest singing stars ever. But there were lots of valleys in between.
Movie Trivia from Imdb.com:
- Both Halle Berry and Whitney Houston were in the running for the role of Tina Turner.
- Laurence Fishburn turned down the role of Ike Turner five times. When he learned that Angela Bassett had won the role of Tina Turner, he changed his mind.
- Charles Q. Murphy auditioned for the role of Ike Turner.
- The character “Jackie” was created solely for the movie. She isn’t mentioned at all in the book “I, Tina”, on which the movie is based.
- In Ike Turner’s autobiography “Taking Back My Name”, he said that the scene where he beats and rapes Tina in their home studio, and the scene where he confronts her backstage with a handgun, never happened.
- Angela Bassett was injured while filming the first spousal abuse sequence. She fell off the back of a high-rise sofa, put her hands out to reduce the impact, and suffered a hairline fracture of her right hand. She only tried the stunt fall once, and footage leading up to the mishap appears in the film.
- Jenifer Lewis who plays Tina’s mother in this film, originally auditioned to play Tina. Lewis is only two years older than Bassett who plays Tina. Interestingly, when Ike first comes to the Bullock household, he asks Lewis to speak to Tina’s mother as though the two women were sisters, which is closer to reality than film continuity.
- In the film, Ike is the father of Tina’s first child, Craig. In real life, Tina dated Raymond Hill, saxophone player for the Kings of Rhythm, before she met Ike. Hill was Craig’s biological father; Ike adopted Craig when he and Tina got married. The movie also portrays Ike Jr. and Michael as the oldest of the four boys. In real life, Craig was the oldest, followed by Ike Jr. and Michael (Ike’s children with Lorraine Taylor), then Ronnie Turner, Ike and Tina’s only biological child.
- The movie’s advertising tagline, “Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?” is a lyric from the song “What’s Love Got to Do with It.”
- Vanessa Bell Calloway, who plays Jackie, the friend and former Ikette who shares Buddhism with Tina, was wary of chanting the Buddhist words because of her strong Christian faith. Director Brian Gibson allowed her to mouth the words silently during taping, and added the words with a voice double in post-production.
- Fishburn actually sang Ike’s parts.
- The scenes depicting Dallas, Texas were based on Tina Turner’s real-life domestic violence fight where Ike and Tina were scheduled to perform at the Dallas Statler Hilton in July 1976. This was depicted in Tina’s autobiography in graphic detail (including her walking to the Ramada Inn Plaza Hotel across the way) – the reference to her having 36 cents and a Mobil credit card was real. The Statler Hilton was sold in early 2011 to a real estate developer who intends to restore the hotel to its original state as it first appeared in 1956.
- Ironically before filming this movie, Vanessa Bell Calloway was actually featured in the video for Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to Do with It”.