Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over – Toronto 2021

Dionne Warwick: Don't Make Me Over. Courtesy of TIFF.

Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over might not break new ground but the film is a revealing documentary about the singer/songwriter.

“What the World Needs Now,” “Say A Little Prayer,” and “Don’t Make Me Over” are among a number of songs in Warwick’s discography. You might know the songs but do you know who Dionne Warwick is as a person. Do you know how she has used her voice in the name of humanitarian causes? She is one of the biggest fighters in the fight against AIDS. Regardless of whether you do or don’t, you might have an interest in learning her story. Trust me–you will not regret it!

This isn’t a Wikipedia type of documentary–you should know this first and foremost. A number of notable musicians make appearances because they worked with her or she influenced her. A former president also shows up along the way and adds to the conversation–no, it is not President Obama. Even though her first cousin is no longer alive, Whitney Houston’s presence is also felt. I’ll personally add that I was this week years old when I learned they were related! Anyway, Warwick’s popularity began to grow in Europe as a result of one of the worst album covers of all time. I get that using a blonde-haired, blue-eyed woman will sell music but come on! How does this happen and in what universe?!? This is just one of many things we’ll hear about in the documentary. And yet, your jaw will hit the floor…

Burt Bacharach talks about his relationship with Warwick and we get some of the history behind “What the World Needs Now is Love.” While Warwick would eventually record it for an album, she initially turned down the song. Personally speaking, I only know of the song because of Austin Powers. This speaks to the power of cinema! However, this isn’t the only song in her discography, which features five Grammy Awards amongst many other awards and nominations.

This documentary has been in the works for a number of years. While it’s finally seeing the light of day in 2021, what’s surprising is that there isn’t a U.S. distributor. We’re talking about a musical legend here! I cannot stress enough just how much we need to hear Warwick’s story right now. You might just learn something from it. I know that I did.

Even if you don’t know her name, you’ll certainly know Dionne Warwick’s musical contributions dating back to the mid-1950s.

DIRECTORS: Dave Wooley and David Heilbroner
FEATURING: Dionne Warwick, Bill Clinton, Quincy Jones, Alicia Keys, Stevie Wonder, Burt Bacharach, Clive Davis, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Carlos Santana, Cissy Houston, Gladys Knight, Berry Gordy, Snoop Dogg, Smokey Robinson, Gloria Estefan, Olivia Newton-John, and Elton John

Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over holds its world premiere during the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival in the Special Presentations program.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.