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3 movies to watch if you liked The Color Purple

The cast of The Color Purple.
Warner Bros. Pictures

Nearly four decades after The Color Purple originally hit theaters, a new adaptation of the film is now playing. Both versions of the movie adapt Alice Walker’s powerful story about Black women in the early 20th century, but the new adaption is also a musical based on a hit Broadway play. The Color Purple‘s strong Christmas Day opening against Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom and Wonka also suggests that moviegoers are already embracing the latest incarnation of the story.

American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino has the leading role of Celie Harris-Johnson, who Whoopi Goldberg originally portrayed in the 1985 film. Taraji P. Henson also stars in the film as Shug Avery, with Danielle Brooks as Sofia, Colman Domingo as Albert “Mister” Johnson, Corey Hawkins as Harpo Johnson, H.E.R. as Mary Agnes/Squeak, Halle Bailey as Nettie Harris, Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor as Mama, Jon Batiste as Grady, Louis Gossett Jr. as Ol’ Mister Johnson, and David Alan Grier as Rev. Samuel Avery.

If you enjoyed the new version of this novel, then these are the three movies to watch after The Color Purple. One of the films features Halle Berry in a leading role, and some thematic similarities tie all three movies to The Color Purple.

Dreamgirls (2006)

The cast of Dreamgirls.
DreamWorks Pictures

Music is the connective tissue between The Color Purple and Dreamgirls, and former American Idol finalist Jennifer Hudson reportedly beat Barrino and several other actresses when she landed the leading role of Effie White. The film (and the hit Broadway musical that inspired it) takes place in the early ’60s when Effie was the lead singer of The Dreamettes alongside her bandmates Deena Jones (Beyoncé Knowles) and Lorrell Robinson (Anika Noni Rose).

The women are discovered by Curtis Taylor Jr. (Jamie Foxx), who manages their group and romances Effie. Curtis also arranges for The Dreamettes to be the new background singers for Jimmy “Thunder” Early (Eddie Murphy). However, the success is short-lived for Effie, as she is dumped by Curtis from both the group and from his heart as he focuses on making his new lover, Deena, the lead singer and the star of the band. Effie refuses to go quietly into obscurity, and her battle to reclaim her fame and make it as a star on her own is one of the big reasons why this story continues to resonate.

Watch Dreamgirls on Paramount+.

Fences (2016)

Stephen McKinley Henderson and Denzel Washington in Fences.
Paramount Pictures

Unlike The Color Purple, Fences has a male-oriented story, although there’s more than enough family drama in both films. Denzel Washington stars as Troy Maxson, with Viola Davis as his wife, Rose Lee Maxson, and Jovan Adepo as their son, Cory Maxson.

Fences takes place in the ’50s, and Troy is resentful over the rampant racism that he has experienced during his life. That’s one of the reasons why Troy sabotages Cory’s attempt to find refuge in football, which he explains away as attempting to spare his son from heartbreak. But this creates an emotional distance between the father and son that may not be healed, especially when Troy betrays his wife by having an affair with another woman.

Watch Fences on Paramount+.

Their Eyes Were Watching God (2005)

Halle Berry and Michael Ealy in Their Eyes Were Watching God.
Touchstone Television

Thematically, Their Eyes Were Watching God has much in common with The Color Purple. While this TV movie adaptation has been criticized for sidestepping the mature aspects of Zora Neale Hurston’s novel, including questions of race, gender, and identity, it has a very impressive cast, including Halle Berry and Michael Ealy.

The story follows a Black woman named Janie Crawford (Berry) through the early 20th century as she endures loveless marriages to Logan Killicks (Mel Winkler) and then to Joe Starks (Ruben Santiago-Hudson). Only during Janie’s third marriage does she find love in the arms of Vergible Woods, a much younger man who goes by the nickname Tea Cake (Ealy). But even this relationship has its dark side, as Janie faces lasting consequences from a tragic series of events.

Watch Their Eyes Were Watching God on YouTube.

Editors' Recommendations

Blair Marnell
Blair Marnell has been an entertainment journalist for over 15 years. His bylines have appeared in Wizard Magazine, Geek…
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