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The List: Movies that rock

- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 7, 2011

"Beatles Day" is celebrated in numerous cities around the world on July 10. The event is an international celebration of the legacy of the legendary Liverpool pop band, held on the same date John, Paul, George and Ringo attended a civic reception for the premiere of "A Hard Day's Night" in 1964. This week The List looks back at "A Hard Day's Night" and other notable feature films about, or featuring, pop and rock stars.

  • "A Hard Days Night" (1964): The black-and-white comedy starring the Beatles at the height of Beatlemania and directed by Richard Lester has become a film classic. Time magazine rated the day-in-the-life story of the Beatles as one of the all-time great 100 films.
  • "Help" (1965): Made a year after "A Hard Days Night," it was the first time many fans had seen the Fab Four in color. The movie plot had the band on the run from a cult and a couple of scientists out to get a ring worn by Ringo. In many ways, it was a comic version of a James Bond movie with some great songs.
  • "The Buddy Holly Story" (1978): Gary Busey, who lost 32 pounds to play Holly, won numerous awards in the role as Buddy Holly, including an Oscar nomination. The film did win an Oscar for the best adapted score. There were numerous inaccuracies in the film, and the parents of Holly filed a lawsuit charging the movie presented a distorted picture of their family relationships.
  • "Tommy" (1975): The film was based on the Who's 1969 rock opera album "Tommy" and directed by Ken Russell. Roger Daltrey of The Who played the lead role. The other cast members included Ann-Margret, Oliver Reed, Eric Clapton, Tina Turner, Elton John and Jack Nicholson.
  •  "This is Spinal Tap" (1984): The Rob Reiner film chronicled the bungling 1982 American tour of a stale English rock band called Spinal Tap. The movie gave rise to terms such as "mockumentary" and "rockumentary" and has become a cult classic. The film was "so authentic," wrote Dave McCoy of MSN Movies, "that, when the film was first released, many viewers thought Spinal Tap was a real band."
  • "Catch Us If You Can" (1965): John Boorman's directorial debut, starred the five members of the Dave Clark Five pop band, whose popularity in the U.S. at the time almost rivaled the Beatles. It was released with the title "Having a Wild Weekend" in the U.S.
  • "Summer Holiday" (1963): This was British singer Cliff Richard's best film and featured four British No. 1 hits, including "Summer Holiday" and "Bachelor Boy." The movie is known for the famed red double-decker bus that Cliff and his friends drive to France for a holiday.
  • "La Bamba" (1987): The biographical film traced Ritchie Valens' early love of music, his rise to stardom and his tragic death in a plane crash at the age of 17. Lou Diamond Phillips was excellent in the lead role as Valens, a Mexican-American raised in California.
  • "Selena" (1997): Jennifer Lopez had her breakthrough role as Mexican-American music star Selena, in this biographical drama film that traced Selena's short life before she was fatally shot at 23.
  • "Spice World" (1997): This lighthearted comedy starring the Spice Girls earned negative reviews when it was released, but has since become a cult classic. The star-studded film depicts five days in the hectic, glamour-filled lives of the British pop quintet. Elton John, Bob Geldof and Elvis Costello all have cameo roles, with Meat Loaf as the Spice Girls' bus driver.
  • "Jailhouse Rock" (1957): This was Elvis Presley's third film and one of his best. Elvis plays an ex-con with a love for music. The choreographed title number is exceptional and the song became a No. 1 hit.
  • "Labyrinth" (1986): This fantasy movie directed by Jim Henson features some great songs performed by David Bowie, who is perfectly cast as Jareth the Goblin King.
  • "Pat Garrett and Bill the Kid" (1973): Bob Dylan played a small role in the Sam Peckinpah-directed Western and also wrote the songs for the film, including the powerful and chilling "Knockin' on Heaven's Door."
  • "Pink Floyd: The Wall" (1982): Written by Roger Waters of Pink Floyd and directed by Alan Parker, this anti-establishment progressive-rock masterpiece has become a cult classic, even if it is a little too serious and overbearing.
  • "Purple Rain" (1984): Vanity Fair magazine in 2007 named the soundtrack by Prince as the greatest ever — "a flawless combination of "funk, R&B, pop, metal and even psychedelia into a sound that defined the '80s" — even though the magazine described it as "perhaps the best badly acted film ever."
  • "Walk The Line" (2005): Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash and Reese Witherspoon as June Carter sing pretty well in this biopic peppered with moments of humor, tenderness and Man in Black coolness.
  • "The Rose" (1979): The film was loosely based on the life of singer Janis Joplin. Singer Bette Midler performed the soundtrack album for the film, and the title track became one of her biggest hit singles in 1980.
  • "Ray" (2004): Jamie Foxx won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance as rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles.
  • "The Doors" (1991): Val Kilmer starred as Jim Morrison, lead singer of the 1960s-1970s rock band the Doors in the Oliver Stone film. The film contained more than two dozen of the Doors´ songs. Original recordings of the band were combined with vocal performances by Mr. Kilmer.
  • "8 Mile" (2002): Foul-mouthed rapper Eminem enjoyed critical acclaim for his debut film. The film won an Academy Award for the Best Original Song for Eminem's "Lose Yourself."
  • "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" (1978): The film featured covers of songs by the Beatles and starred the Bee Gees and Peter Frampton. The film was badly received. Newsweek magazine called "Sgt. Pepper" a film "with a dangerous resemblance to wallpaper." The album from the film debuted at No. 5 on the U.S. Billboard album charts.
  • "Glitter" (2001): The film marked superstar songstress Mariah Carey's first big attempt at acting. The film release was delayed owing to the leading lady's nervous breakdown five weeks before the movie's initially planned Labor Day weekend release.

Compiled by John Haydon

Sources: The Washington Times, the New York Times, Associated Press, Dave McCoy of MSN Movies and Wikipedia

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