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Rock'n'Roll


Sepiatone
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As with the thread about paper money in old movies, I'm curious as to when major studios started using real Rock'n'Roll music in films? Not those late '50's "B" level flicks with Alan Freed, but bigger budget projects? That "movie rock'n'roll" was an insult to an entire generation of moviegoers for too many years.

Sepiatone

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By anyone's estimate, "The Girl Can't Help It!" (1956) should pass the test. Little Richard, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent and Fats Domino were rock 'n' roll gods and there they were in CinemaScope and Technicolor. And don't discount the Alan Freed stuff totally. The was nothing "B" about Chuck Berry and a few of the others he used. I'm not sure what your question means. If you mean actual rock 'n' roll musicals and not just numbers patched into the film, the previous poster was probably right about Elvis. If you mean when did studios start using rock 'n' roll to spice up the soundtrack, that basically started with "The Blackboard Jungle", but it took them many years to learn to do it right. They kept trying with stuff like "What's New Pussycat?" with pretty predictable results. The first one that comes to mind that glommed onto "counterculture" rock music was "Candy", which used Steppenwolf even before "Easy Rider". There was a slew of "trippy" films around that time that tried to create the mandatory ambience, but usually didn't have any bona fide rockers, other than The Seeds and a few others. "Wild In The Streets" gave it a pretty good shot, but the music was still kind of formulaic. My favorite score from the 60's, though it's probably rock lite, was John (The Lovin' Spoonful) Sebastian's for "You're A Big Boy Now", which he not only wrote songs for but actually scored as well. One early British film that probably escaped a lot of people's notice on this side of the Atlantic was "Expresso Bongo", a "beat" musical that turned out to be very influential over the years. OK, I'll shut up now.

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In the face of such good examples, I'll try to clarify my query.

 

In "The Girl Can't Help It", the rock'n'roll music was the showcase of the film, as the story was centered around the genre. In "Blackboard Jungle", the only rock tune heard is the opening theme. Those Alan Freed flicks were "B" level mainly because the plot was thin, and the performances were even thinner. MY interest is in when was actual rock'n'roll music used incidentally, not just part of the soundtrack. Let me give you an example:

 

In "Mr. Hobbs Takes A Vacation", Hobbs' sulking teen-aged daughter is in one scene playing the same 45 rpm record over and over. The music supposedly coming from the record sounds more like "Neil Hefti tries rock'n'roll" than an actual rock'n'roll tune. Especially considering when the movie came out! In other movies, the producers manage to get the instrumentation correct, but the music is STILL peppered heavily with cliched impressions.

 

Hope this helps...

Sepiatone

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i remember the first time i saw Bob Carol Ted and Alice when 'What the World Needs Now is Love' came on at the end, and everyone was in the street, that scene blew me away.

also in Psych Out they feature the Strawberry Alarm Clock's music. including Incense and Peppermints. The Trip starring peter fonda features a soundtrack by the Electric Flag.

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Just for fun, I looked Rock and Roll up on Wiki to see if I could find the first official Rock and Roll song.

 

That led me to a 1942 review in Billboard magazine that used the term, "rock and roll spiritual music", to describe a Sister Rosetta Tharpe song titled "Rock Me".

 

That led me to YouTube to try to find the old song, and YouTube had a 1938 recording of it, here:

 

 

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{font:Arial}From a historical standpoint, most film buffs and movie critics seem to agree that the opening soundtrack of “Blackboard Jungle,” with “Bill Haley and Comets” rendition of “Rock Around The Clock” was the first time a Rock & Roll song was utilized for a major film in 1955. Then, the following year came what many believed to be, the founding father of promoting the music, disc-jockey Alan Freed, with his appearance in the Columbia Pictures musical, “Rock Around The Clock.” The film was in many ways, rapidly produced, in order to capitalize on what was suddenly a major thrust into the music business.{font}

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

{font:Arial}As to just how much insight Freed had into the production has never been fully explained. What did make the film interesting was the inclusion of “Bill Haley and The Comets,” once again performing their hit song, “Rock Around The Clock,” that became the movie’s title. Bill Haley and his band were then made the film’s headliners, being given most of the songs and a storyline of how Rock & Roll evolved to become a domineering factor to the music business and a new phenomenon, penetrating popular American culture. Besides Haley, there was probably the standout performance of the entire film, the wonderful singing group, “The Platters,” doing a beautiful rendition of their legendary tune, “Only You.” Just for the record and rather technically odd, at the time of the movie’s release and in the following years to come, there was never an official soundtrack record album made of the film!{font}

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

{font:Arial}Naturally, the tremendous success of “Rock Around The Clock” with young audiences, paid off big for Columbia Pictures. The film’s success had made Alan Freed an international figure of show business! While Freed and a series of other Rock & Roll films were to come, suddenly at about the same time, Elvis made his national appearance and he eclipsed just about every other Rock & Roll star of the era. This was especially the case with the series of Rock & Roll movie musicals Elvis would make. Freed and Elvis would never have any sort of an association, other than Freed playing one hit record after the other recorded by Elvis over the radio airwaves.{font}

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

{font:Arial}Then, it came!! At the end of 1956, there was the major release from 20th Century-Fox of the now cult classic “The Girl Can’t Help It.” This was definitely, the first widescreen, stereophonic, color motion picture that showcased or even examined the new music medium of Rock & Roll. Although the movie was essentially a comedy and a big promotion for screen goddess Jayne Mansfield, this was for many years the finest film to present some of the best talents available; but most of them faded away and were never heard from again. The film also did an interesting job of blending together different styles of music, such as jazz and romantic ballads with the major aspect of Rock & Roll. Most notable or memorable to the film was songstress Julie London, singing “Cry Me a River.” There was also wonderful Fat’s Domino and of course the one and only, electrifying Little Richard. Some film historians have rated “The Girl Can’t Help It” as a major cultural expression to the 1950’s, as well as aspects of how the music business was run during that time period. The director of the film, Frank Tashlin, just so happened to be an idol of mine and he was for me a marvelous filmmaker and understood elements of entertainment that were both saucy and yet there was enough good taste to his various comedy films.{font}

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

{font:Arial}Now, moving along to the present era or not far from the past, to my opinion was the best film ever produced about Rock & Roll, the 1978, biographic story of none other than about Alan Freed himself, “American Hot Wax.” This film is one that should have received more attention, because it was filled with beautiful and creative production values. The film is also highlighted with real, major Rock & Roll stars, besides fictitious ones that are probably based on other real Rock & Roll performers. The two most famous appearances were by Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis. Their appearance in the film is historically important from a documented perspective of recreating something of their now legendary concerts, despite both singers having aged and yet you wouldn’t have noticed it! There’s been a standing debate about one of the fictitious characters in the film, as played by actress Laraine Newman. I believe, like many others that this character is based on singer/songwriter Carole King! In the title role of Alan Freed was the talented, yet tragic actor Tim McIntire. His father was popular character actor, John Mclntire. Before his untimely death, Tim also portrayed country singer George Jones in the 1981 television movie, “Stand by Your Man.” I find it rather a shame that “American Hot Wax” doesn’t get much exposure on television and there is yet no official DVD release of the film. What’s available are imported DVD versions of the film or the usual bootleg stuff made off of cable or the old VHS release of the movie.

 

Anyway, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Have A Good New Year!

 

MP {font}

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> {quote:title=FredCDobbs wrote:

> }{quote}Just for fun, I looked Rock and Roll up on Wiki to see if I could find the first official Rock and Roll song.

>

>

>

> That led me to a 1942 review in Billboard magazine that used the term, "rock and roll spiritual music", to describe a Sister Rosetta Tharpe song titled "Rock Me".

In 1934 in the movie TRANSATLANTIC MERRY-GO-ROUND the Boswell Sisters performed a song called "Rock and Roll".

Here's the clip from the movie:

 

 

 

And here's their 1934 Brunswick Records version:

 

 

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It may not have been 'real' R&R but Max Fleicher's use of The Mills Brothers (When Yuba Plays the Tuba Down in Cuba' and Cab Calloway ('St James Infirmary) and others in his cartoons was probably one of the earliest to take then currently popular (not classical or specially written for the screen ) music and use it in a movie.

A 1992 book, What Was the First Rock 'n' Roll Record, by Jim Dawson & Steve Propes, lists 50 'candidates'. What it comes down to is R&R evolved from so many different styles and influences and in so many different places that picking a first is pretty much arbitrary.Then actually defining R & R is somewhat arbitrary, although we all know it when we hear it.

As for those old 'Alan Freed' movies, they were pretty horrid, exploitive, and crassly commercial, but their value and importance is in making the performances of some of the pioneers available for us today, something the big budget movies generally didn't.

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It should be noted, movieprofessor, that Bill Haley and the Comets appearance in "Rock Around The Clock" betrays one fact. The guitarist who provided the still considered stellar and ahead of it's time solo was Danny Cedrone, who was NOT a member of the Comets, and provided that solo only for that song for that one time. Cedrone died tragically shortly after recording it, so it wasn't HIM in the film.

 

"American Hot Wax" wasn't all that great of a movie, only trying to cash in on America's nostalgic bent at the time for '50's rock'n'roll, thanks to the success of TV's "Happy Days"(which incidentally used to use "Rock Around The Clock" as it's theme song in it's first season.) Tim Mc Intire, while talented, was obviously miscast for the part, while much of the musical history it was meant to represent was out of historical sequence.

 

But it DID boast the earliest look America had of Jay Leno and Fran Drescher.

 

I always felt it should have been remade, with more detail spent on fact, and Gary Sinise as Freed. The resemblance is remarkable.

Sepiatone

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On Jackson's "Thriller", "Beat It" was considered the most rock-oriented track, and many rock stations played it... On the other hand, not too many rock stations played Abba, or Air Supply, or Debby Boone. Of course, none of these acts deserved to inhabit the same universe as Burt Bacharach.

 

Edited by: finance on Dec 27, 2011 3:54 PM

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> {quote:title=Sepiatone you wrote:}{quote}It should be noted, movieprofessor, that Bill Haley and the Comets appearance in "Rock Around The Clock" betrays one fact. The guitarist who provided the still considered stellar and ahead of it's time solo was Danny Cedrone, who was NOT a member of the Comets, and provided that solo only for that song for that one time. Cedrone died tragically shortly after recording it, so it wasn't HIM in the film.

I do know of this issue about guitarist Danny Cedrone. The trouble that Cedrone faced was that by 1954, he was rather old, in his late thirties and wasn't all that physically attractive to be considered visually dynamic enough as a member of a band. Cedrone was for the most part, just a good guitar player for hire, never being able to branch out on his own or even form his own band. He was always in the shadows of some other musician. Of course, anybody who ever saw or heard him play could have never questioned or argued against his talents. He just didn't know or care about self promotion or to reach beyond where his skill had taken him. Before his death, he was simply drifting from one recording session to the next. His death was something of a mystery that ended up never having been logically explained. Here was somebody who early on, helped shaped this new type of music, never to see the full emergence of the music and this pop culture he helped bring into the spotlight.

 

> "American Hot Wax" wasn't all that great of a movie, only trying to cash in on America's nostalgic bent at the time for '50's rock'n'roll, thanks to the success of TV's "Happy Days"(which incidentally used to use "Rock Around The Clock" as it's theme song in it's first season.) Tim Mc Intire, while talented, was obviously miscast for the part, while much of the musical history it was meant to represent was out of historical sequence.

Ok . . . As an overall movie it wasn't exactly classic material. What does give the movie a tremendous amount of clout was the beautifully produced concert sequence. This was truly historical, if you know and understand the music and what it came to represent! It dosen't so much matter the issue you bring up of "out of historical sequence." The whole idea was to show something of the period and make a composite of events and the various artists and styles of music. One has to take into consideration the issue of a lot of royalties and whoever else would have to be paid! The background story, even that of Alan Freed isn't important, nor the fictitious characters. What does really matter is a documentation of the real Rock & Roll stars who appear in the film!! Sure, the movie could have been a whole lot better. But then, what does it matter when you can have the real Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Frankie Ford and Screamin' Jay Hawkins in a movie recreating their once popular concert performances? If anything can be righly said, this is where the movie succeeds.

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> {quote:title=finance you ask:

> }{quote}Has anyone seen the film FM? I only know the Steely Dan title track. Doesn't it have a rock soundtrack?

The movie "FM" absolutely has a complete soundtrack album! It was one of the best selling albums of its time. The record album even won the 1979 Grammy Award for "Best Engineered Album" of a "Non-Classical" recording. The two most famous and now immortal tunes from the movie and soundtrack are "We Will Rock You" and "Life's Been Good." Some of the finest and legendary Rock artists of the period appeared in the movie. The ironic sort of twist to all of this is that the film was released the very same year as "American Hot Wax" and "Grease!" It now seems that 1978 was a very good year for Rock & Roll in the movies!

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The Wiki article on Danny Cedrone is more accurate. Didn't a lot of the

mid 1960s Englsih Invasion groups do at least one movie? You don't hear

about them too much anymore, probably with good reason, as I would imagine

most were just one-offs made to sell more records.

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Good points, professor. As for me saying "Hot Wax" wasn't that great a movie DOESN'T mean I didn't enjoy it. I like it's documentation of the "fear factor" used bythose trying to quash rock'n'roll and bring about it's demise. I also liked the scene where child actor Moosie Dryer(sic) talks on air with Freed in mourning the loss of Buddy Holly, then Freed spinning Holly's "Rave On", in my opinion one of Holly's best and underrated tunes. Other film makers likely would have opted for a "Peggy Sue" or "That'll Be The Day" cliche.

Sepiatone

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