I found this ten best list of rock films selected and commented by Reggie Collins, who is Rhino’s managing catalog editor, and I think it’s a mighty list. The only ones that I haven’t seen are “The Kids are Alright” (but I’ve got the soundtrack on CD) and the T.A.M.I. Show, which has been released on DVD.
Ten Favorite Rock Films
by Reggie Collins
A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
Don’t Look Back (1967)
The T.A.M.I. Show (1964)
The Girl Can’t Help It (1956)
American Graffiti (1973)
Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock’N’Roll (1987)
Monterey Pop (1968)
The Kids Are Alright (1979)
Mystery Train (1989)
Stop Making Sense (1984)
for the full reviews, go to: http://www.rhino.com/rzine/storykeeper.lasso?StoryID=58
Behold my beautiful Japanese movie poster of “American Graffiti”, the all-time youth classic directed by George Lucas and produced by Francis Coppola in 1973:
WHERE WERE YOU IN ’62?
Although I prefer the Japanese poster, I think MAD artist Mort Drucker’s original has the right kind of heartfelt bubblegum flavor:
With over 50 years of illustrating for MAD, few can compete with the vast body of work Drucker has amassed, his signature style spilling over onto the occasional TIME magazine cover, advertisement, or movie poster. Drucker in fact had illustrated the key poster art for one of Lucas’ pre-Star Wars features, American Graffiti, at the director’s request.
“My reps got a call and they wanted me to illustrate the movie,” says Drucker, “and the nice thing was that even after I did it, [Lucas] came out to my house and wanted me to sign some of the posters. That was the first time I met him. Later, I was invited to his ranch and was given a great tour. I really appreciated it.”
In addition to doing the poster for Graffiti, Drucker also drew the illustrations for MAD’s Graffiti parody, “American Confetti”. Five years later, Drucker found himself illustrating another Lucas musical, at least in the MAD scheme of things.
David Shortell adds:
Additionally, in the back pages of the paperback screenplay that was published back then, Drucker drew a page from the high school yearbook — complete with characters’ signatures scrawled on their “photos”.
Lucas recalls, “American Graffiti was unpleasant because of the fact that there was no money, no time and I was compromising myself to death. But I could rationalize it because of the fact that, well, it is just a $700,000 picture. It’s Roger Corman, and what do you expect, you can’t expect everything to be right for making a little cheesy, low-budget movie.” Lucas wanted the film to look like a jukebox – strong, saturated colors – but feel like a documentary, with handheld cameras capturing action as it was happening. Difficulty keeping the actors in focus led to Lucas bringing in cinematographer Haskell Wexler to consult.
Walter Murch was hired to design the sound for American Graffiti. He recalls, “It was really the first film to have wall-to-wall classic rock soundtrack, something that has set a precedent and is fairly common today. Such that now you have a credit for somebody on films called ‘music supervisor’ and that’s their responsibility, choosing the song. Well, this position didn’t exist at that time and George really created it and he did it himself, so as he was writing the screenplay, he had his sister’s 45 rpm record player and this stack of rock ‘n roll 45 rpm records from the late 1950s early 1960s.”
Even after a boisterous January 1973 preview at the Northpoint Theater in San Francisco, Ned Tanen and Universal had low expectations for American Graffiti, which seemed to be just another youth picture like Two-Lane Blacktop or The Hired Hand that the studio had failed to sell to audiences. Lucas recalls, “It had become depressing to go to the movies. I decided it was time to make a movie where people felt better coming out of the theater than when they went in.” Opening August 1973, American Graffiti broke house records on its way to a whopping $55.1 million in the U.S., making it the third highest grossing film of the year.