Rock on Film: The Movies That Rocked the Big Screen

Running Pr. Jul. 2022. 288p. ISBN 9780762478439. $35. FILM
Goodman (The Mansion on the Hill) explores feature films that revolved around popular music, starting with the 1955 juvenile delinquency film Blackboard Jungle, which for Goodman represents the sometimes satisfying, sometimes exasperating marriage of rock and roll and cinema. Other resulting films have proven sublime (A Hard Day’s Night, Monterey Pop) or abysmal (The Phantom of the Paradise; American International Pictures’ seven (!) Beach Party movies). Goodman’s book selects 50 significant films to examine in depth, and the resulting essays are interspersed with information on relatively unknown films (Expresso Bongo, anyone?) that proves to be equally fascinating and informative. It also includes interviews with filmmakers like Cameron Crowe, Jim Jarmusch, Penelope Spheeris, Taylor Hackford, and John Waters. The book has much for readers (and viewers) to discover or revisit, but the title sells its contents a little short, as Goodman also covers non-rock films (reggae flick The Harder They Come; rap biopic Straight Outta Compton; Inside Llewyn Davis’s fictional folk star) Many of these films will leave viewers feeling exuberant, and Goodman’s book should produce the same effect.
VERDICT A delightful and informative introduction to the best (and worst!) documentaries, biopics, feature films, and musical extravaganzas of the last 70 years.
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