SAMMY DAVIS, JR.: I’VE GOTTA BE ME
is the first major film documentary to examine Davis’ vast talent and his journey for identity through the shifting tides of civil rights and racial progress during 20th-century America. Sammy Davis, Jr. had the kind of career that was indisputably legendary, so vast and multi-faceted that it was dizzying in its scope and scale. And yet, his life was complex, complicated and contradictory. Davis strove to achieve the American Dream in a time of racial prejudice and shifting political territory. He was the veteran of increasingly outdated show business traditions trying to stay relevant; he frequently found himself bracketed by the bigotry of white America and the distaste of black America; he was the most public black figure to embrace Judaism, thereby yoking his identity to another persecuted minority.
Featuring new interviews with such luminaries as Billy Crystal, Norman Lear, Jerry Lewis, Whoopi Goldberg, Quincy Jones and Kim Novak, with never-before-seen photographs from Davis’ vast personal collection and excerpts from his electric performances in television, film and concert, SAMMY DAVIS, JR.: I’VE GOTTA BE ME explores the life and art of a uniquely gifted entertainer whose trajectory blazed across the major flashpoints of American society from the Depression through the 1980s.
Premiering at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival, this moving and compelling film lets viewers see the highs and lows of this extraordinary man as he reached out to accomplish his goals to entertain the world, while people and situations continued to try and hold him down. His life and his legacy has never been documented in a feature film before now.