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Why Do Fools Fall in Love

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Gregory Nava
Produced by Executive Producers:
Mark Allan
Harold Bronson
Gregory Nava
Paul Hall
Stephen Nemeth
Written by Tina Andrews
Starring Halle Berry
Vivica A. Fox
Lela Rochon
and Larenz Tate
Paul Mazursky
Pamela Reed
Alexis Cruz
Jon Huertas
David Barry Gray
Miguel A. Núñez Jr.
Clifton Powell
Lane Smith
Ben Vereen
Paula Jai Parker
Marcello Thedford
Norris Young
and Little Richard
Music by Stephen James Taylor
Cinematography Edward Lachman
Editing by Nancy Richardson
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s) August 28, 1998
Running time 116 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $7,500,000

Why Do Fools Fall in Love (1998) is an American romantic drama, directed by Gregory Nava. The screenplay was written by Tina Andrews. The film stars Halle Berry, Vivica A. Fox, Lela Rochon and Larenz Tate.[1]

The motion picture is a biographical film of the brief but intense life of singer Frankie Lymon, who was part of the R&B group Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers for one year. Moreover, the film highlights the three women in his life.



Lymon was thirteen years old when the teenage group Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers erupted from radios and jukeboxes with their 1956 hit, "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?" and appeared in the movie Rock, Rock, Rock (1956).

After Mr. Rock and Roll (1957), Lymon started a solo singing career, but it all fell apart. Lymon's career was over by the time he was eighteen years old, and he died of a heroin overdose eight years later.

Jumping from the 1950s to the 1980s, the film traces the rise and fall of Lymon (Larenz Tate) in a series of flashbacks as courtroom claims on Lymon's royalties are outlined by three women: Zola Taylor (Halle Berry) of the Platters R&B group; Elizabeth Waters (Vivica A. Fox), who loves her pet dog (who Lymon kills by mistake). She became a prostitute to cover the costs of Lymon's recovery from addiction; and schoolteacher Emira Eagle (Lela Rochon).

Little Richard also makes a courtroom appearance, while Miguel A. Nunez Jr. portrays Little Richard in scenes set in the 1950s.

The film ends with Elizabeth winning Frankie's estate, however later the ruling is overturned by the Court and Emira gets Frankie's estate.



The screenplay of the film, written by actress-turned-screenwriter Tina Andrews, took fifteen years to be produced. Director Gregory Nava used most of the technical staff from his prior film Selena.[2]

Filming locations

Filming locations include: Jacksonville, Florida; Los Angeles, California; and Starke, Florida.


The film was first presented at the Urbanworld Film Festival, New York, on August 8, 1998.

The film opened in wide release on August 28, 1998 (1,369 theatres) and sales the opening weekend were $3,946,382. Why Do Fools Fall in Love ran for 8 weeks domestically (66 days) and eventually grossed $12,506,676 in the United States. At its widest release the film was shown in 1,377 screens.[3]


The taglines used by the producers of the film to market the film include:

  • The story of three very different women.....with one husband in common
  • Three different women married Frankie Lymon. Now as they fight to get a piece of his millions, They will have to prove who married him first and who loved him most
  • Based on a true story of love, music and money

Critical reception

Roger Ebert, film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, was disappointed in the screenplay and ultimately Nava's direction of the film, and wrote, "There are several angles this material might have been approached from, and director Gregory Nava tries several without hitting on one that works. By the end of the film we're not even left with anyone to root for; we realize with a little astonishment, waiting for the court verdict, that we don't care who wins."[4]

Yet, film critic Peter Stack liked the film and believes director Nava smartly juggles a lot of elements in the picture. He wrote, "Why Do Fools Fall in Love is a fresh, enlightening example of how to take a tragic American show-business story and make it funny, warm and terrifically entertaining...[it] brims with joyful spirit and raucous comedy...[and the film] deftly juggles a surprising number of elements, but they all work."[5]



Two soundtrack albums were released for Why Do Fools Fall in Love by Warner Music Group. Why Do Fools Fall In Love: Original Versions from the Movie, released on September 8, 1998 by Rhino Records, contained fourteen songs, including five of Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers' original recordings. Also included are original hits by Little Richard, The Platters, the Shirelles, Otis Redding, and others.

Why Do Fools Fall in Love: Music from and Inspired by the Motion Picture was released on the same day as Original Versions from the Movie, but on Warner's East West Records label. Save for one vintage Little Richard song, it features new hip-hop and contemporary R&B recordings more or less unrelated to the actual film (one track, Gina Thompson's "Why Do Fools Fall in Love", interpolates the Teenagers' hit and is featured over the end credits of the film). Primarily produced by Missy Elliott and Timbaland, this soundtrack album features songs by artists such as Elliott, Busta Rhymes, En Vogue, Destiny's Child, Coko, and, making her solo debut, Spice Girls member Melanie B.




  • ALMA Awards: Outstanding Actor in a Feature Film in a Crossover Role, Miguel A. Núñez Jr.; Outstanding Actor in a Supporting Role in a Feature Film, Alexis Cruz, 1999.
  • American Black Film Festival: Black Film Award; Best Screenplay, Tina Andrews; Best Soundtrack, 1999.

See also


  1. ^ Why Do Fools Fall in Love at the Internet Movie Database.
  2. ^ Savada, Elias. Nitrate Online Review, August 28, 1998.
  3. ^ The Numbers box office data. Last accessed: December 25, 2007
  4. ^ Ebert, Roger. Chicago Sun-Times, film review, August 28, 1998.
  5. ^ Stack, Peter. San Francisco Chronicle, "Captivating 'Fools' Hits Right Notes Superb acting in pop idol's biopic," film review, Section D-16, January 1, 1999.

External links

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