Movies about music or musicians

Purple Rain movie posterA sizable repertoire exists of movies about music or musicians. This includes not just biopics but films centered on musical themes. UC Berkeley Media Resource Center has an excellent list of movies about music or musicians that includes the year, the director and actors, running time and a shorty synopsis. There are a few notable omissions, however, which I’ve listed below.

“Backbeat” (1994)
Directed by Iain Softley, starring Gary Bakewell, Stephen Dorff, Jennifer Ehle, Ian Hart and Chris O’Neill. A dramatization of the Hamburg, Germany phase of the Beatles’ early history.

“Buddy Holly Story, The” (1978)
Directed by Steve Rash, starring Gary Busey. About the life and career of this early rock and roll star.

“Cabaret” (1972)
Directed by Bob Fosse, starring Helmut Griem, Joel Grey, Liza Minnelli and Michael York. Film version of the stage musical, inspired by the memoirs of Christopher Isherwood. The story revolves around a female cabaret entertainer in Weimar Republic era Berlin who romances two men while the Nazi Party rises to power around them.

“Immortal Beloved” (1994)
Directed by Bernard Rose, starring Jeroen Krabbe, Gary Oldman and Isabella Rossellini. Ludwig van Beethoven dies and his assistant/friend Schindler proceeds to deal with his affairs (last will and testament). There is a question as to who really is his “immortal beloved”, and so tries to find out who this might be.

“Purple Rain” (1984)
Directed by Albert Magnoli, starring Morris Day, Apollonia Kotero and Prince. A young man with a talent for music has begun a career with much promise. He meets an aspiring singer and finds that talent alone isn’t all that he needs.

“Selena” (1997)
Directed by Gregory Nava, starring Jennifer Lopez. The true story of Selena Quintanilla-Perez, a Texas born tejano singer who rose from cult status to performing at the Astrodome before being killed by a fan.

“Song to Remember, A” (1947)
Directed by Charles Vidor, starring Merle Oberon and Cornel Wilde. The biography of Frederic Chopin.

“Star Is Born, A” (1954)
Directed by George Cuckor, starring Jack Carson, Judy Garland and James Mason. A movie star helps a young singer/actress find fame, even as age and alcoholism send his own career into a downward spiral. Remade in 1976, directed by Frank Pierson and starring Gary Busey, Kris Kristofferson and Barbara Streisand.

For additional posts that provide interesting music lists, see About Music and This Site.

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