His main legacy is his music, sure, and few will be remembering him today for his contributions to cinema, but James Brown was a big part of the movies. And he will continue to be a big part of the movies for years to come despite his death from pneumonia early Christmas morning.

Aside from the two blaxploitation films he scored (Black Caesar and Slaughter's Big Rip-Off), there are over 100 movies that Brown's music has been heard in. Many of the songs used for these soundtracks seem in retrospect to have been created solely for the benefit of being licensed to Hollywood. How many movies can you think of that featured "I Got You (I Feel Good)" or "It's a Man's Man's Man's World"? I think one of the first CDs I ever owned as a kid was the soundtrack to Rocky IV, which featured "Living in America", so Brown's film legacy is something that I'm always conscious of.

The "Godfather of Soul" didn't only lend a song to Rocky IV, he even appeared in the movie, as himself. He also showed up in Doctor Detroit, The Tuxedo, The Hire: Beat the Devil(one of those BMW shorts/ads), Undercover Brother, Holy Man and Ski Party. And that isn't even including documentaries. As far as getting to play roles that aren't technically himself, there is of course his character Reverend Cleophus James in The Blues Brothers, which he reprised for Blues Brothers 2000.

A new documentary called Life on the Road with Mr. and Mrs. Brown, which is about James Brown and his fourth wife, singer Tommy Rae Brown, is currently in post-production and set for release next year.
categories Cinematical