Despite the commercial and critical success of films like Hidden Figures and Ray, we could never have enough biographical films centering around black tastemakers and game-changers. One look at Twitter would reveal an audience itching for biopics focusing on historical figures such as Langston Hughes, Ida B. Wells, Ellen and William Craft and Harriet Tubman. While movies about these individuals are uncertain, a biopic about Sammy Davis Jr. is not. According to Deadline, a biopic about the multi-hyphenate entertainer is in the works at Paramount Pictures.
In the traditional sense, the term “in development” often screams of movies that languish in development hell for years, decades even. However, under the producing eye of Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Lionel Richie, the biopic seems to be on the fast track, with the news that powers that be are on the hunt for a writer and director to bring Sammy Davis Jr.’s life story to fruition.
The movie will be predominantly based on Yes I Can: The Story of Sammy Davis, Jr., the 1965 memoir Davis wrote with Jane and Burt Boyar. For those unfamiliar, Sammy Davis Jr., who was born in Harlem in 1925, began his entertainment career in vaudeville at the tender age of 3. As far as narrative is concerned, there are multiple ways and various directions in which the writers and producers could handle Sammy Davis Jr.’s life story. They could highlight the entertainer’s military service during World War II, his string of successful movies in the 1960s with the Rat Pack and his contributions to the civil rights movement. Also, getting the right actor to portray the gravitas, heft and richness of Sammy Davis Jr.’s life is imperative.