MAHOGANY Unclassified 18+
Motown boss Berry Gordy’s only film directing credit was a passionate valentine to Diana Ross, and is now a rare camp classic with lurid and fun 70s fashion.
You can’t make vanity projects without Mahogany. Motown boss Berry Gordy conceived this melodrama as a vehicle for his lover, singer Diana Ross – and fired British director Tony Richardson to take the helm himself.
Tracy (Ross) is a plucky but poor Chicago secretary yearning to become a fashion designer. Discouraged by her hunky community-organiser boyfriend (a pre-Lando Calrissian Billy Dee Williams), Tracy follows a flamboyant fashion photographer (Anthony Perkins) to a modelling career in Rome and finally achieves her dream. But is it meaningless without love?
While its theme, Do You Know Where You’re Going To?, was Oscar-nominated for Best Song, Mahogany was critically unappreciated on its release. But thanks to its juicy racial and class themes, and outré costumes designed by Ross herself, Mahogany’s dragspirational DNA survives in movies from Showgirls (Paul Verhoeven, 1995) to Dreamgirls (Bill Condon, 2006). As Roger Ebert wrote in 1975, "Why should it have to make sense?"
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