Top 6: Rock and Roll Movies

Posted in Top 6 at 4:59 am by Sam

Usually when we think of musicals, we think of classic Broadway or MGM spectacles, but starting on the fringes of filmmaking and emerging into the forefront are rock and roll musicals, which is some ways make up a genre all its own. It’s not just the music that’s different, it’s a whole different cultural mentality and value system that comes with it. When compiling our lists for Episode 38’s Top 6 Rock and Roll Movies segment, we discovered that there actually aren’t that many good ones, but maybe we’re not the people to ask about that anyway. Still, we were able to come up with six favorites apiece, and here they are. Chime in with yours!

As always, we recommend listening to the episode before reading further.

  1. A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
  2. Almost Famous (2000)
  3. This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
  4. High Fidelity (2000)
  5. Wayne’s World (1992)
  6. True Romance (1993)
  1. A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
  2. This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
  3. American Graffiti (1973)
  4. Bye Bye Birdie (1963)
  5. That Thing You Do! (1996)
  6. Jailhouse Rock (1957)


  1. vivaladisney (4) said,

    June 19, 2007 at 7:53 am

    Hey. I’ve been listening since episode 1, but I’ve never commented before. I love the podcast, and think that you guys do a great job and really have a knowledge of film. Being someone who was never really a music buff, I’m actually a bit surprised that my first comment is on “Top 6 Rock ‘N Roll Movies”. Anyways, I’m a die hard Beatles fan and I believe that A Hard Day’s Night is unquestionably the best rock film ever made. I believe that one of you referred to it as the “only great rock movie”, or something to that effect. I must disagree, and I am actually fairly surprised that the other great Beatles film Yellow Submarine was absent from both lists.

  2. Stephen (221) said,

    June 19, 2007 at 8:24 am

    Yellow Submarine. Either you like it or you don’t — and I don’t. But certainly something worth discussing. Thanks for the comments!

  3. Jeffrey (84) said,

    June 19, 2007 at 10:44 am

    All great choices, btw I love That Thing You Do!, apparently it has got quite a following as shown by the recent DVD re-release. Do you guys like Top Secret!, it’s one of my favourite films.

  4. siochembio (82) said,

    June 19, 2007 at 11:04 am

    Oh, I LOVE That Thing You Do! It always makes me laugh. I thought for sure you guys would discard it as being too cheesy or whatnot.

    “Got any threes? Well, I guess Lenny’s goin’ fishin’!”

  5. Sam (405) said,

    June 19, 2007 at 12:20 pm

    sio: Yeah. I like how some of the lines are funny just from the delivery. I love the bit where somebody says, “Oh-Needers,” and one of the guys corrects him and says, “Hey, that’s Oh-Nedders.” Not hilarious in print, but the deadpan, throwaway line induces the kind of chuckle that takes an extra beat to kick in but then lingers through the next several lines.

  6. Sam (405) said,

    June 19, 2007 at 12:22 pm

    Jeffrey: Top Secret? Interesting call. I had to read up on it before I even remembered it had anything to do with rock and roll, but of course it does. I don’t think Stephen’s a fan, but I liked it all right.

  7. joem18b (231) said,

    June 19, 2007 at 1:25 pm

    Rock and Roll came to South Carolina during the 1956-1957 school year, when I was in seventh grade. It changed everything forever for the teenagers there. Before that we were watching “Your Hit Parade ” on TV and listening to “The Yellow Rose of Texas” on radio. Now, all of a sudden, there was a music for teens and teens only.

    When Elvis made his first movie (Love Me Tender, not Jailhouse Rock), the theater was packed and rowdy. Jailhouse Rock (his third movie) was strong and edgy enough to make us all imagine that he would have a long and glorious movie career (sigh). Maybe if he hadn’t been drafted, he would have.

    Here are 6 films that really defined the era. As far as the audience (including me) was concerned, every one of them was an oscar winner:

    1. Rock Around the Clock (1956)
    2. Don’t Knock the Rock (1956)
    3. Love Me Tender (1956), Loving You (1957)
    4. Where the Boys Are (1960)
    5. Rock All Night (1958)
    6. High School Confidential! (1958) (for the zeitgeist)

  8. Morticus (2) said,

    June 19, 2007 at 6:37 pm

    Hey all. I’ve listened to a few shows, but don’t usually have a free hour. This one caught my attention, though, since I’m a Miyazaki fan. Nice spotlight there, and it makes me want to see those films of his that I haven’t yet.

    Well, you guys predicted that people would lay into you for not picking Blues Brothers, and it looks like I may be the first to fulfuill that prophecy.
    Seriously, what were you thinking? The music is great, Dan Akroyd’s character is perfect, and you get to see dozens upon dozens of police cars get smashed up. What better way of sticking it to the Man is there? And let’s not forget Carrie Fisher’s brief but memorable role. ^_^

  9. Sam (405) said,

    June 20, 2007 at 10:09 am

    I guess I understand why people like Blues Brothers, but I don’t understand why it’s the end of all movies. Off the top of my head, I can probably name a hundred other movies with great music, more with better comedy, and as for police cars…ok, that was an awesome scene. But it’s one scene.

    I don’t dislike it. I have a real affection for it, actually, particularly in its showcasing of people like Cab Calloway, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, and John Lee Hooker. (Side note: With a line-up like that, surely Blues Brothers is more of a jazz movie than a rock movie.) But in a way, that’s also a problem: featuring all these musical legends as supporting players makes it downright silly to have John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd as the stars. For comedians being musicians, they do a great job, but come on.

    As a comedy, I have almost the same complaints. There are these moments of pitch-perfect hilarity, like that pile-up scene and a couple of other great ones, but most of the humor isn’t that well constructed. I’m not a fan of that kind of comedy, which was largely copycatting Every Which Way But Loose and Smokey and the Bandit anyway.

    I hate to rain on anybody’s parade. It’s obvious that Blues Brothers means a lot to a lot of people, particularly to my own generation. And like I say, I do like it. I just don’t get what makes it stand out from the crowd, other than a novelty ensemble of music legends that don’t tend to get a lot of movie time.

  10. Ferrick (140) said,

    June 20, 2007 at 12:12 pm

    I was able to come up with a Top Five list but slotting that sixth spot has been hard. Here is my list:

    1. Hard Day’s Night
    2. Almost Famous
    3. Spinal Tap
    4. That Thing You Do
    5. School of Rock

    Movies I considered for #6

    La Bamba - I never really loved this movie but the music is great

    Grease - Too much of a musical for me to be a rock and roll movie

    High Fidelity - I wanted my movies to be about rock ‘n roll and not just have it as a side theme. This is more of a romantic comedy and I didn’t really like it, anyway.

    Blues Brothers - I love this movie but it isn’t Rock ‘n Roll. It is blues, jazz, soul, and even country.

    American Graffiti - Great music but not a movie about rock ‘n roll. But I don’t disagree with Sam’s interpretation of the topic.

    Back to the Future - Some rock ‘n roll but not the right theme.

    Bill and Ted; Wayne’s World - Rock is important and there is rock performance but didn’t make the cut for me.

    Movies I thought of but haven’t seen so I couldn’t consider them: The Doors; Rock Star.

  11. Ferrick (140) said,

    June 20, 2007 at 12:14 pm

    As I listened to your countdown, I got really worried that neither of you would remember A Hard Day’s Night. Thanks for not sucking.

  12. Jeffrey (84) said,

    June 25, 2007 at 12:46 pm

    Does anybody else like Empire Records? “Say no more, mon amour…”

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