A young woman (Didi Conn, Grease) is determined to put her life together, while trying to succeed as an actress, singer and songwriter.
Reaction & Thoughts:
You Light Up My Life is a sensitive, small-scale film that looks more like a TV movie-of-the-week than the important feminist music-drama that the filmmakers clearly intended it to be. Although this film can appear corny and passé to modern audiences’ eyes, as a document of 1970s sensibilities, this is a valuable tool to understand how people felt back then towards personal and professional relationships.
Although it hasn’t aged well, You Light Up My Life did provide actress Doni Conn with her first big break before achieving cinematic immortality as “Frenchy” in Grease (1978). Luckily, Conn, who is a bundle of charm (it’s impossible to dislike her!), is in almost every scene and she alone makes the movie watchable.
You Light Up My Life has one big and annoying flaw: the poor dubbing makes it painfully clear that Conn is lip-singing all the songs (celebrated Soprano Kvitka “Kasey” Cisyk dubbed Conn). As I said before, Conn is an endearing actor, so she provides the credibility the poor dubbing fails to accomplish.
You Light Up My Life’s greatest claim to fame will always be its famous title song, written by composer and wannabe filmmaker & actor Joseph Brooks (producer of Eddie and the Cruisers). Brooks also has a small role as a creative director.
The song became the biggest hit in the career of Debby Boone. The melody was so popular, in fact, that the Academy awarded Brooks with an Oscar for Best Song, over the nominated Bond Song “Nobody Does It Better” (from The Spy Who Loved Me) and the un-nominated (?) original songs from the film Saturday Night Fever (written by the Bee Gees). Even though it is difficult to understand the Academy’s strange lapse in taste, the truth is that “You Light Up My Life” is a lovely tune.
You Light Up My Life has unexpectedly become a piece of crime trivia. It was later discovered that director-writer Brooks was a serial rapist who lured women into his pad with promises of fame and fortune — Brooks was apparently the Harvey Weinstein of the music industry. He was indicted by a Grand Jury on multiple counts of rape, but Brooks committed suicide before the trial.
Unfortunately, there’s more. After Brooks’s suicide, the filmmaker’s son, Nicholas Brooks, was found guilty of murdering his girlfriend, popular fashion designer Sylvie Cachay. He is currently serving a 25-years-to-life sentence. It’s a very sordid postscript to this amiable, feel-good romantic drama.
Conclusions & Final Thoughts:
You Light Up My Life is a simple, harmless piece of ’70s corn. The film may seem outdated by today’s standards, but the story revolves around Conn, who is charmingly quirky. I will recommend it only to those viewers that are curious to see where the famous title song came from. Color, 91 minutes, Rated PG.