James Brown Comes to the Screen


This Friday, August 1, the new movie about James Brown will be released. Titled Get On Up, the film stars Chadwick Boseman as Brown. The film also features Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Craig Robinson, and Dan Aykroyd, Brown’s co-star from Doctor Detroit (and The Blues Brothers). As of this writing, no reviews have been published, so its unclear if Get On Up will be good. It’s easy to be dubious though. The trailer makes Get On Up look like a pretty standard biopic.  And Boseman doesn’t really look like Brown. Of course, nobody really looks like James Brown, so that can’t be held against the movie.

Regardless of the movie’s eventual quality, James Brown is a compelling character: he was an essential figure in 20th century American history and culture, and his music’s influence can still be heard today. His story is a great one: as for a telling of it, I suppose I’ll not so humbly recommend Proud: The Story of James Brown by Ronald D. Lankford, our (Morgan Reynolds) biography of the singer. It’s a good one.

Born into poverty in the 1930s, Brown revolutionized R&B music into something vital and earth-shaking, and the live shows he put on were intense and dynamic. He influenced generations of musicians that followed him, and helped shaped the sound of modern pop and rap.


Brown was also a radical and influential advocate for civil rights, and inspired many with his song “Say it Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud.” He also toured in Vietnam, performing for American troops.


Brown also struggled with drugs and the law, and strove, not always successfully, to be a family man and a good man. In short, his life was a full one.

To read about James Brown, check out Proud: The Story of James Brown by Ronald D. Lankford (ISBN# 978-1-59935-374-6) from your local library or purchase it from Morgan Reynolds Publishing.

– Josh Barrer,

Associate Editor

(All pics appear in Proud: The Story of James Brown)

(And while we are on the topic of movies about the subjects of Morgan Reynolds biographies, don’t forget The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing, due out this November.)



Published in: on July 29, 2014 at 9:15 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , ,