Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of “What’s love got to do with it?” biopic

Tina Turner - What's love got to do with it movie

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!

Buy What’s Love Got To With It on Blu Ray

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”.
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23 Comments

Filed under Her Story, Video

23 responses to “Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of “What’s love got to do with it?” biopic

  1. Donald C

    As menacing as Laurence Fishburne’s interpretation of Ike is, I also believe his performance gave Ike a humanity that provided some insight into why he was such an angry man. It demonstrated that Ike was a troubled person and in my opinion, this made him more than the one dimensional monster the media had made him out to be.

  2. Anthony

    I’ve wanted there to be a remastered 20th Anniversary edition of the soundtrack featuring additional music (B-sides) and more of the songs mentioned in her autobiography (The Phil Specter songs Ike and Tina did around the “River Deep” period, “Acid Queen”, “The Bitch Is Back”, “Love Explosion”, “Out of Time”, “Ball of Confusion”). However, if they do the PRIVATE DANCER 30th Anniversary w/ all of the 1982-1985 material, and reprint remasters of both ROUGH (an album I actually like) and LOVE EXPLOSION (like the title track, and LOVE her cover of “Backstabbers”, probably the only person who could cover it just as well as The O’jays) that might shorten the list of extras. I’ve always thought, since the first day I heard it, that, “Why Must We Wait Until Tonight?” was the rightful follow-up to “Private Dancer”. That’s very much the kind of Chill/Jazz vibe I’d like for her next LP to have; representing a new phase in her long, storied career.

    • Donald C

      It would be nice if it did get released but I doubt there will be a 30th Anniversary edition of Private Dancer. I don’t know what Tina’s label status is right now. I’ve read that she is currently not signed to any label. If she is not with Capitol/EMI, I can’t see why they would consider releasing an updated edition of PD.
      I think her doing a Chill/Jazz album would be fantastic. With Edith and the Kingpin, she certainly showed she has the phrasing ability and breath control to be a great jazz singer as opposed to a number of her contemporaries who have released albums of standards that have been at best mediocre and at their worst an affront to the ears.

  3. Lasse

    My least favorite period of her career. Always felt this movie was not necesarry. She told her story in the book. she always said she didnt want to dwell on the past, so why this movie? it kept the whole abuse story alive and it ruined Ike Turner completely. Rights were clearly just sold for money. It doesnt match with her buddhist philosophy in my opinion…. And BTW, the movie was full of things that never happened…

  4. I really like the book “Tina Turner” by Mark Bego and Tina. It is a great biography. As far as feeling bad about Ike, if you read the book it goes into even more detail about what a jerk he was. I understand Ike released a book too, but it just backfired on him. Quite frankly, he helped get her started, but he IMHO was a real scumbag. If you read this book you will see that the movie went pretty easy on Ike. I also don’t think that people were ready to see all that in a movie.
    The book also goes into great detail of how Tina rebuilt her career and her life. Her time with Ike is less than 50% of the book. I find as a woman Tina’s movie, her books and her music including the new CD “Beyond” to be greatly inspirational. I admire her ability to get out of that mess with Ike and her great talent. I know many woman who have this DVD in their collection.

  5. Niqolas

    Cuánto hay de cierto en la película? Aunque soy un gran fan de esa película, algunas cosas me fui enterando que no fueron como se cuentan, como por ejemplo cuando en la corte Tina pide solo quedarse con su nombre y sin dinero, en una entrevista con Oprah explicó que eso no fue así.

  6. Anthony

    I always felt that the film very much “glossed over” a lot of key things: I would have liked a 2 1/2 to 3 hr. movie dealing w/ her life BEFORE and AFTER Ike. He was only part of the journey…I would have been as equally interested in seeing her life from 1978-1983 depicted. I always think the film should have ended w/ her doing the record signing at Tower Records in NYC, then the news that she was going to co-star w/ Mel Gibson in Mad Max III, then the gig at The Ritz. No mention of Ike was necessary at all! They made the movie about the abusive marriage instead of the I, TINA story. I think had they did it that way, it would’ve been a much better film, and Angela Basset might have won an Oscar for her role had it been given the full meat of the role. I still LOVED the fact that the film showed Tina at the end of the film. THEY HAD BETTER REPRINT/REMASTER/REISSUE TINA’S DISCOGRAPHY!!! I’ve been waiting since like, FOREVER!!!

    I still say: Call a meeting w/ Britten/Lyle, Bryan Adams, Eric Clapton, Stevie Wonder, Chris Botti, Chuck Mangione, Burt Bacharach, Steely Dan, Pet Shop Boys, Mark Knopler, Sting, Prince, Nile Rodgers, Daft Punk, Paul Williams, Babyface, Jam & Lewis, U2, Brenda Russell, Quincy Jones, et al, and OF COURSE, Mr. Hancock, and write a album combining Traditional Jazz, Modern Jazz, Jazz Rock, Smooth Jazz, Jazz Pop, Chill, Jazz-Blues, Jazz Funk, Acid Jazz, Experimental/Avant Garde Jazz, etc. and include, “Edith & the Kingpin” cause it was the initial inspiration and mix it up and simply call it:

    TINA TURNER JAZZ

    Release it,
    Go to the Royal Albert Hall, put on an elegant dress (a la GOLDENEYE video), do the classic Tina hairstyle (1980s) up in a bit of a bun, then let it down later in the show, sing the new songs, mix in the unfamiliar tunes that work w/ the new vibe (e.g. “Viva La Money”, “Crazy in the Night”, “Rock N Roll Widow”, “Afterglow”, “Two People”, “Look Me in the Heart”, “Undercover Agent For the Blues”, “Falling Like Rain”, “Not Enough Romance”, “Foreign Affair” (perfect for the mood), “I Want You Near Me”, “Way Of the World” (SCREAMS WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT FOR THE NEW LP, WHICH IS REALLY JUST ACCENTUATING, EMPHASIZING, AND EXAMINING AN ASPECT THAT HAS BEEN THERE SINCE THE 1970S/1980), “Why Must We…”, “Stay Awhile”, “Wildest Dreams”, “Confidential’, “Difference Between Us”, “Something Beautiful Remains”, “Goldeneye” (a definite highlight), “Go Ahead”, “Private Dancer”

    THEN,
    Make some costume changes, come out in the now-classic black pants/white dress shirt and do the rock side, in the vein of your PRIVATE DANCER TOUR, just you in the stage w/ the various musicians and vocalists, no dancers, just YOU!.

    Score: Tina and The Fans, Win!
    Tina and Roger, this virtually writes itself. I’m dying to own this album, and it hasn’t even been recorded yet. Just give me a thank you/credit in the liner notes. That will absolutely ROCK my world.

    • Donald C

      Really impressive and ambitious idea. I would love to see this. I get the impression thought that it would not be for the casual fans who just want to hear her sing What’s Love and The Best. Because of that, I can’t see her doing something so specialized. I wish she would though. I’ve been saying she should take a page from Bettye Lavette’s book and cover songs from the singers (beyond just Mick, Elton and David) who have been influenced by her.

      • Anthony

        Donald C, don’t get me wrong: Of course, I’d like her to work “What’s Love?”, “I Can’t Stand The Rain”, “Johnny & Mary”, “Root Toot Rock N Roll”, “The Bitch Is Back”, “Girls”, “Let’s Stay Together”, “Whatever You Want”, “Legs”, “Steel Claw”, “Typical Male”, “Proud Mary”, “River Deep” in to the set somehow…there’s a way to strike a line of demarcation between the rock sides and Jazzy sides…they can occasionally punctuate the quite moments intermixed w/in the set. The concerts (NOT TOUR) would be emphasizing the new material/phase of Tina, yet would not shy away or neglect the history that’s made her so great over the last 40-50 years.

        It would just be fun to curate and decide the set list and stage design and costumes for the show..finding the balance would actually be a very fulfilling challenge. The fact that Tina could be singing and performing the more rockish tune w/out an entourage would make the show sparkle right there, cause it would be the 70-something Tina Turner singing the classic rock/pop/new wave songs in her Jazzed up look, w/ would freshen the performances up by itself. I still think the PRIVATE DANCER tour (though, sadly I never saw her on it) was probably the best incarnation of what makes her so great on stage (NOT that the other tours were bad), because she can command so much of the stage, focus, songs, band by standing out in front all by herself w/out lots of special effects, lights, and excess. Jazz is about simplicity, though it’s married to intricacy and freedom of expression.

  7. suelen

    eu amei o filme é umas das historias baseadas em fatos reais que eu mais gostei de assistir sou fã dessa diva!!!!

  8. Andre Brown Jr

    check out my performance of Proud Mary pleaz

  9. Andre Brown Jr

    Here is another fun performance if Take You Higher, I Love this song by Ike and Tina

    • Lasse

      Lol, that’s wilder than Tina Turner !

      • Andre Brown Jr.

        think you I love Tina’s energy and thats what I try to emulate, I don’t know if thats the right word or not “emulate” I jus hear people use it, I’m going to google it now, thank u Lasse

  10. Andre Brown Jr

    Me and my brother’s performing Proud Mary please watch and comment fellow Tina Fans

    • Acid Queen

      “What’s Love Got To Do With It is” a very inspirationnal movie! Love It! And long live to love between Tina Turner & Erwin Bac! ❤

    • Marcia Reis

      woww muito bom gostei, eu queria saber dançar como Tina, vocês foram muito bem!!! good
      Marcia Reis , São Paulo – Brasil

  11. midnightman84

    Judging from the film, I can see why Tina didn’t wanna watch it. I haven’t watched it in years. I actually think it didn’t really do neither Ike or Tina justice. Sure Ike was a sleazebag but they really went with the “ultra villain” role. Sure Ike did play his role as bad boy pretty well but the movie had it “too well” if you know what I mean. Plus Tina wasn’t a weakling as she is sometimes portrayed in the film. Angela pulled off a great imitation of Tina and her Southern Tennessee charm but Tina would tell you she was a complex figure. And the years they got wrong… the messing up with the timeline messed this movie up for me even more lol

    Also Laurence Fishburne (6’2) was like 0’6 foot taller than Ike (5’6) was (and about 230 lbs heavier). LOL Ike & Tina were practically the same height.

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