YouTube Treasure: Dionne Warwick on a Plantation


Let’s talk Dionne Warwick, children. Let’s strip away her later career embarrassment with the Psychic Friends Network, not to mention her mismanagement of donations via some botched AIDS charity. I’m not here to dredge all that horseshit up again. I want you to remember that way back in the ’60s, she was a scintillating pop singer with a husky voice that proved to be the perfect venue for Bacharach-David hits from “Anyone Who Had a Heart” to “Alfie” and beyond, always matching her material with style and class. Dionne could do sultry, pained, wispy, and regretful, all with sophisticated phrasings that made her a vocal emblem for the ’60s heartbeat. But THAT’S not really what I’m here to talk about either. I want to bring up a hideous career misstep she made called Slaves, a 1969 turkey du cinema starring a shackled Ossie Davis, a sneering Stephen Boyd as “massa,” and Dionne as Cassy, Boyd’s mistress who, according to the Times review “lollygags around the house drinking rum and changing her clothes.” She also gets to sing the big song (“Love Theme From Slaves“?) with her usual lilting tones. I can’t find clips from this twaddle, but here, from YouTube, is a montage of shit from and about the film, using Dionne’s “Slaves” number as a sinful background. Next I’ll threaten you with her performance as a madam in the Liza MinnelliBurt Reynolds clinker Rent-a-Cop! So behave!