A new trailer for Alan Elliott‘s Amazing Grace popped earlier today. There were hopes late last year that the doc, technically directed by the late Sydney Pollack, might land a nomination for a Best Feature Documentary Oscar, but that didn’t happen. Neon plans to open it sometime during the first quarter. (I think.)
Filmed over two nights (Thursday, 1.13.72 and Friday, 1.14.72) inside L.A.’s New Temple Missionary Baptist Church (So. Broadway near 87th Place), Amazing Grace became an unfinished calamity when it became clear that director Sydney Pollack and his crew shot had captured 20 hours of footage without shooting clapper boards at the start of each take, which in the analog era made the footage impossible to synch in post.
Amazing Grace is just as spirit-lifting as the early-birds have been saying. Classic rhythmic bass-throbby gospel, churning and turning and cranking it up…”Oh, my…oh, yeah! Oh, my…oh, yeah!” (That might have been my own private chorus.) I’ve been listening to Franklin’s singing all my life, but to watch her improvise and embroider and work through a song top to bottom, little beads of sweat covering her face and neck, her concentration fierce and joyous — pure flight, pure emotion, pure reach-for-the-skies.
Franklin is supported by top-tier pros…maximum energy, discipline, coordination. The barrel-chested Rev. James Cleveland (who died at age 59 in 1991) at the piano. The Southern California Community Choir, led by Alexander Hamilton. And Franklin’s superb backup band — guitarist Cornell Dupree, bassist Chuck Rainey, drummer Bernard Purdie, organist Ken Lupper, conga player Pancho Morales — is as good as it gets.
The bass-heavy soundtrack sounded analog-y. You could almost hear the tape hiss. It did wonderful things to my rib cage.
Oh, and there are two or three shots of Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts clapping along from behind the back row. Exile on Main Street had been recorded at the time, but was yet to be released. Sticky Fingers had been in circulation for eight or nine months.