After Hollywood’s huge success with “Dreamgirls,” the thinly fictionalized story of legendary soul/R&B label Motown, along comes “Cadillac Records.” This musical biopic goes one step further back in the history of black American music, and comes up with a thinly fictionalized look at legendary blues label Chess Records. With Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and Etta James on their roster, Chess championed an electric urban blues sound that was destined to become the roots of rock ‘n’ roll, worshipped by people like Eric Clapton, Keith Richards and Jimmy Page.

Where “Dreamgirls” had Jamie Foxx as an impressario based on Motown’s Berry Gordy, “Cadillac Records” has Adrien Brody as label head Leonard Chess; “Dreamgirls” saw Eddie Murphy do his best James Brown imitation, and “Cadillac Records” has Jeffrey Wright morphing into Muddy Waters; Beyonce Knowles had the Diana Ross role in “Dreamgirls,” and she’s back as blues diva Etta James in the new flick. (Jennifer Hudson, mercifully, is absent this time ’round, thus sparing our eardrums of her lung-busting bellow.)

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.