Betty Mabry left her first mark on musical history as Miles Davis's wife, introducing him to the rock, soul, and funk that would contribute to his groundbreaking LP Bitches Brew (1970); she left her second, years after the marriage had ended, as 70s funk diva Betty Davis, her guttural delivery and forthright sexuality years ahead of their time. Since retiring from music in the 1980s, Davis has hidden from the spotlight, and director Philip Cox spends most of this documentary tracking her down. She appears on camera for exactly one shot, looking away from the lens, though Cox uses a handful of responses from their audio interview as voice-over narration. Photos and archival footage show Davis in all her jaw-dropping 70s glory—wearing a gigantic afro, short shorts and thigh-high boots, with legs akimbo—while friends and colleagues remember her as a quiet, contemplative woman offstage. This is probably as close to Davis as anyone's going to get, and Cox augments her guarded recollections with a vibrant, seductive introduction to her music.
By J.R. Jones