Review: Sammy Davis Jr. – I’ve Gotta Be Me (Las Vegas Film Festival)

Title: Sammy Davis Jr: I’ve Gotta Be Me
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Director: Samuel D. Pollard
Starring: Sammy Davis Jr., Harry BelafonteTony Bennett
Runtime: 1 hr 40 mins

What It Is: This documentary chronicles the life of singer, dancer and overall entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. starting with his youth as a traveling performer and going through his entire career including his residence here in the town I live in Las Vegas, NV as part of the Rat Pack. We learn of the accident that cost him an eye, his marriages, one of which lead to massive controversy and everything in between.

What We Think: This doc does an amazing job of getting you invested. It’s gripping but not enough to hold you throughout. This is good, but certainly not a great documentary. While its construction is okay it lacks the cohesiveness needed to tell its narrative well enough. All of the interview subjects are interesting and it seems the more personal they are the better they’re stories were. Most production of this il too often stay fixated on Davis’ time in Vegas, glamourize it. This, however, sticks to telling more of a truth. How hugging Nixon and being a Nixon backer hurt him politically and personally especially within the black community. All this in the middle of the civil rights fight.

Our Grade: B+, If you can get your hands on this it’s well worth your time to do so. I think what you’ll mainly take away is how much you’ll learn about a figure that seems so legendary, but often time seems so through the microscope of nostalgia. His true talent shining through despite all the odds around during his time. It does the main thing a documentary should do and it shows both the good and the bad of its subject never feeling like a fluff piece.

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