Longevity seems to be the operative word when it comes to Cher. In her 46 year show business career, she’s had many ups and downs but she always manages to somehow remain relevant. She began as one half of the singing act Caesar and Cleo (who later changed the name of the act to Sonny and Cher) in 1964. Today, she is an Oscar-winning film star and has a new movie with Christina Aguilera in theaters.
Born Cherilyn LaPiere, she became an icon of the 1960s, along with her then-husband Sonny Bono, when their music and outlandish garb caught the spirit of the “flower power” generation. The duo starred in the Emmy-winning The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour in the 1970s and the light-hearted film Good Times (1967). Cher used her increasing popularity to record a pair of number one solo hit songs, “Half Breed” and “Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves”.
The act and the marriage eventually broke up and Cher went solo. After a slump of several years, she rebounded with the Top 10 hit “Take Me Home” in 1979. Deciding to try her hand at acting again, she got rave reviews on Broadway for her performance in Come back to the Five & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean. Because of the accolades she received, she was granted the starring role in the movie version of the play. Her success in the film led to her getting the role in Silkwood (1983) which gained her a nomination for best supporting actress and a Golden Globe win. This was the beginning of a long, successful movie career, which includes a Best Actress Oscar for Moonstruck. (1987). All the while, she still continued singing and had several more hits, including “If I could Turn Back Time” and “Believe”. Cher has the honor of being one of only two women to ever win an Oscar and have a Number One hit song (Barbara Streisand being the other). She is also the only female performer to have Number One hit songs in four consecutive decades, from the 60s through the 90s.
Cher: The Film Collection gathers six of Cher’s films, spanning over 30 years. Good Times (1967) was her first film and the only one she made with the late Sonny Bono. This is an enjoyable little film that was made to cash in on the singing duos popularity. It’s more a disconnected series of sketches than an actual plot. The pair gets to sing their first Number One hit song “I Got You Babe”. Good Times is a cute time-capsule piece that was inspired by the Beatles Hard Days Night.
Chastity (1969) was an unexceptional film, only notable for being Cher’s solo film debut and first dramatic performance. It’s the story of a lonely young woman who leaves her old life behind and takes to the road to find love and an identity of her own. Cher gives a surprisingly strong first-time star turn. Not as great movie but an important film in Cher’s career. (Parenthetically, Chastity is also the name of Cher's first born child.)
Silkwood (1983) was Cher’s breakthrough movie moment. Her powerful performance as a lesbian working in a nuclear parts facility not only gave Cher her first acting nomination, it also helped her break out of the stereotype of being a singer who appears in films and got people to acknowledge her as a legitimate actress. The film is a vivid and intense look at the life of real-life Karen Silkwood, (Played by Meryl Streep) a metallurgy worker who was purposely contaminated and later murdered in order to prevent her exposing grievous violations in worker treatment. All the performances are strong, particularly that of Streep as the ill-fated heroine. Cher won a Golden Globe award for her part.
Moonstruck (1987) was the film that finally cemented Cher’s career as an A-list actress. Her Oscar-Winning performance here is a career highlight. The film itself is very simple but artfully presented. It unfolds almost like a stage play, using simple sets and relying on strong performances. Cher plays an independent woman who makes an arrangement to marry an older man (Danny Aiello) who she doesn’t love. Things get complicated when she finds herself falling in love with his aimless younger brother (Nicholas Cage).
Mermaids (1990) is another unexceptional entry in the Cher oeuvre and a strange choice for this DVD set. The best thing about it is her chemistry with co-star Winona Ryder. Cher plays a sexy, boisterous single mom whose outrageous antics are a constant source of embarrassment to her teenage daughter (Ryder) who is going through her own coming-of-age crisis.
The final film in the collection is Tea With Mussolini (1999), where Cher heads a powerhouse cast of immensely talented actresses and holds her own with them. Among the cast are Joan Plowright, Maggie Smith, Judi Dench and Lily Tomlin. The story takes place in Florence of the 1930s, during Mussolini’s rise to power. The plot follows a young boy whose mother has died and whose father abandons him to be raised by an eclectic group of women called the Scorpioni in an artsy, expatriate community. It’s an uneven yet entertaining comedy/drama.
DVD Bonus Features
There are no DVD extra with this set.
"Cher: The Film Collection" is on sale December 2, 2010 and is not rated. Comedy, Drama, Romance. Directed by Franco Zeffirelli , Mike Nichols, Various, William Friedkin. Written by John Mortimer, Nicholas Hyams, Sonny Bono, Nora Ephron, Alice Arlen and various others. Starring Cher.