There’s no denying the power of rock and roll.
It has influenced so much in our world, from fashion to music to art.
But what about movies? What are some of the best rock and roll movies?
If you’re a fan of rock and roll music, this will be the guide for you! Here are some of the best movies to watch if your favorite genre is rock and roll.
Best Rock And Roll Movies
Let’s jump right into our list of the best rock and roll movies of all time.
This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
This Is Spinal Tap is a mockumentary that follows the fictional rock band Spinal Tap on their latest tour of the United States.
The film is directed by Rob Reiner and stars Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer as the members of the band, Nigel Tufnel, David St. Hubbins, and Derek Smalls respectively.
The film is presented in the style of a documentary, with interviews of the band members, footage of their concerts, and behind-the-scenes glimpses of their personal lives.
The film pokes fun at the excesses of the rock and roll lifestyle, including the band’s outrageous stage antics, their clueless manager Ian Faith (Tony Hendra), and their tendency to constantly lose drummers.
The humor in the film is largely derived from the band’s cluelessness and over-the-top behavior.
For example, they have amps that go to “11” instead of the usual maximum of 10, and their song “Sex Farm” is a particular highlight of their ridiculousness.
The film is also notable for its numerous cameos, including Billy Crystal, Dana Carvey, and Fran Drescher.
This Is Spinal Tap is widely regarded as one of the greatest comedy films of all time, and it has become a cult classic.
Its influence can be seen in other mockumentaries, such as The Office and Best in Show.
The film has even spawned a real-life Spinal Tap band, with Guest, McKean, and Shearer performing in character on tour.
The Commitments (1991)
The Commitments is a film directed by Alan Parker and based on the novel of the same name by Roddy Doyle.
Set in Dublin, the film follows the story of Jimmy Rabbitte, a young music enthusiast who aspires to manage a soul band.
He holds auditions for talented musicians, and eventually forms a group called “The Commitments.”
The band consists of a diverse group of individuals who are brought together by their shared love for music.
Despite facing various challenges along the way, including personal conflicts and struggles to find gigs, they manage to find success and gain a following.
One of the film’s main themes is the importance of music in bringing people together and transcending cultural and social barriers.
The film also explores issues such as poverty, race, and the struggles of working-class life in Ireland.
The Commitments features a talented cast of largely unknown actors, many of whom went on to have successful careers in the entertainment industry.
The film also features an outstanding soundtrack, which includes soul classics such as “Mustang Sally” and “Try a Little Tenderness.”
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The Girl Can’t Help It (1956)
“The Girl Can’t Help It” is a musical comedy directed by Frank Tashlin, starring Jayne Mansfield,
Tom Ewell, and Edmond O’Brien.
The film follows a former gangster named Fats Murdock (O’Brien) who hires a down-on-his-luck talent agent named Tom Miller (Ewell) to turn his girlfriend Jerri Jordan (Mansfield) into a singing star.
The film is notable for featuring several famous musical acts of the time, including Little Richard, Gene Vincent, and Eddie Cochran.
Mansfield also sings several songs in the film, including the famous title track.
The plot of the film is fairly simple, serving mainly as a vehicle for the musical performances and the comedic interactions between the characters.
The film’s real strength lies in its vibrant Technicolor visuals, with bright colors and exaggerated set designs that perfectly capture the over-the-top nature of the rock ‘n’ roll era.
While “The Girl Can’t Help It” may not be a deep or complex film, it is an entertaining and enjoyable look at a bygone era of music and culture.
The film’s influence can still be seen in modern pop culture, with its use of rock ‘n’ roll music and its celebration of larger-than-life personalities.
BEST ROCK AND ROLL OVIES
What Are Rock and Roll Movies?
The rock and roll movies of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s are not only a part of our culture but have also shaped it.
Some of these films include “Jailhouse Rock,” “Rock Around the Clock,” “A Hard Day’s Night,” and more.
It is no wonder that there are so many different types of movies about rock ‘n’ roll – from musical dramas like “Purple Rain” to comedies such as “This Is Spinal Tap.”
Jailhouse Rock (1957)
Jailhouse Rock is a classic musical film released in 1957 that stars Elvis Presley in the lead role.
Directed by Richard Thorpe and written by Guy Trosper, the film follows the story of Vince Everett (Elvis Presley), a young man with a passion for music who is sent to prison for manslaughter.
While in prison, Vince meets Hunk Houghton (Mickey Shaughnessy), a former country singer, who becomes his mentor and encourages him to pursue his passion for music.
Upon his release, Vince becomes a rising star in the music industry and eventually achieves fame and fortune.
The film is known for its iconic musical performances, including the title song “Jailhouse Rock,” which is considered one of Elvis Presley’s signature songs.
The film also features other hit songs like “Treat Me Nice” and “Baby, I Don’t Care.”
In addition to its memorable musical numbers, Jailhouse Rock is also noted for its portrayal of the entertainment industry and the price of fame.
The film explores the dark side of the industry, including the exploitation of young talent and the pressure to conform to the expectations of the industry.
Rock Star (2001)
Rock Star is a drama film directed by Stephen Herek and starring Mark Wahlberg, Jennifer Aniston, and Timothy Spall.
The film is loosely based on the true story of the band Judas Priest and their former lead singer Tim “Ripper” Owens.
The plot follows Chris Cole (Mark Wahlberg), a die-hard fan of the heavy metal band Steel Dragon, who spends his days working as a copy machine repairman and performing in a tribute band.
When Steel Dragon’s lead singer Bobby Beers (Jason Flemyng) is fired from the band, Chris is recruited to replace him and live out his dream of being a rock star.
He soon finds himself living the high life, touring the world and indulging in all the excesses of fame, but his newfound success comes at a cost as he becomes increasingly estranged from his girlfriend Emily (Jennifer Aniston) and his bandmates.
While the film received mixed reviews from critics, it is a must-watch for fans of rock music and the behind-the-scenes drama that comes with being a successful rock star.
Wahlberg delivers a convincing performance as the wide-eyed fan-turned-rock god, and the film is packed with great music, energetic performances, and plenty of drama.
Ultimately, Rock Star is a fun and entertaining film that captures the spirit of rock and roll and the ups and downs of fame.
Privilege is a British film directed by Peter Watkins.
The film is a scathing satire on the manipulation of popular culture and the political establishment’s use of it to control the masses.
It stars Paul Jones, the lead singer of the popular 1960s rock group Manfred Mann, as Steven Shorter, a pop singer who becomes a government-sponsored messiah.
The story is set in a near-future dystopian society in which the government has taken control of the music industry and uses it as a tool to pacify the population.
Steven Shorter is the biggest pop star in the world, but his rise to fame has been orchestrated by the government, which uses his music and celebrity status to manipulate the masses.
As Steven becomes increasingly disillusioned with his role as a political puppet, he starts to rebel against his handlers and the system that created him.
His attempts to break free from the government’s control lead to a tragic and shocking conclusion.
Privilege is a thought-provoking film that offers a scathing critique of the ways in which governments can use popular culture to manipulate and control the masses.
The film’s use of music as a tool of oppression is particularly effective, and the performances by Paul Jones and the rest of the cast are excellent.
While it may be a product of its time, Privilege remains relevant and resonant today, and is a must-see for anyone interested in the intersection of politics and popular culture.
Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls (1970)
“Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” is a satirical film directed by Russ Meyer and written by film critic Roger Ebert.
The film is a loose sequel to the 1967 film “Valley of the Dolls,” and follows an all-female rock band, The Carrie Nations, as they navigate fame, love, and excess in the late 1960s.
The film begins with the band, led by Kelly MacNamara (played by Dolly Read), arriving in Los Angeles to pursue their dreams of stardom.
They soon become embroiled in a world of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, with each band member facing their own personal struggles.
As tensions rise within the band, they also become involved with a variety of colorful characters, including an exploitative record producer, a transgender woman, and a hedonistic playboy.
The film’s plot takes several unexpected twists and turns, culminating in a climactic finale that is both shocking and hilarious.
Phantom Of The Paradise (1974)
Phantom of the Paradise is a horror-comedy-musical directed by Brian De Palma.
The film is a loose retelling of The Phantom of the Opera, set in the world of rock music.
The story follows a young composer named Winslow Leach (played by William Finley), who is tricked and framed by the evil record producer Swan (played by Paul Williams).
After being sent to prison, Leach escapes and seeks revenge on Swan, who has stolen his music and turned it into a hit album.
The film’s campy style, over-the-top performances, and catchy soundtrack make it a cult classic.
It is also notable for its satirical commentary on the music industry and the corrupting influence of fame and fortune.
The film’s visual style, which mixes horror, comedy, and musical elements, is typical of De Palma’s work.
The performances in the film are all memorable, with Paul Williams stealing the show as the villainous Swan.
The film’s songs, which were written by Williams, are catchy and memorable, with standout tracks including “Faust” and “The Hell of It.”
The film’s production design and costumes are also notable, with the Phantom’s iconic metallic bird mask becoming an iconic image in its own right.
Stardust is a music-filled drama that tells the story of a fictional rock star named Johnny Gossamer (played by David Essex), who rises to fame in the 1960s with his band The Atmospheres.
The film takes us on a journey through Johnny’s life, from his humble beginnings in a small British town to his international stardom and eventual fall from grace.
The film features an impressive soundtrack of original songs, including “Rock On”, “Rollin’ Stone”, and “Lamplight”.
These songs are woven into the narrative, creating a seamless blend of music and storytelling that captures the essence of the rock and roll era.
Stardust also explores the darker side of fame and the toll it can take on those who achieve it.
As Johnny becomes more and more successful, he finds himself struggling with drug addiction, personal relationships, and the pressure to maintain his image as a rock star.
Along the way, he meets a diverse cast of characters, including his bandmates, his girlfriend, and a music journalist who becomes obsessed with him.
The film is a visual and auditory feast, with vibrant colors, stylish costumes, and dynamic performances.
David Essex gives a compelling portrayal of Johnny Gossamer, capturing both his charisma and vulnerability.
The supporting cast, including Adam Faith and Larry Hagman, also deliver strong performances.
This rock and roll film stars the band Slade and is directed by Richard Loncraine.
A band’s sudden rise to fame is beset with internal bickering and the double-dealings of the music industry.
The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash (1978)
The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash is a mockumentary that parodies the history of The Beatles.
Written and directed by Eric Idle of Monty Python fame, the film follows the story of The Rutles, a fictional band that bears a striking resemblance to The Beatles.
The film is presented in a mock-documentary style, with interviews from various characters involved with the band and archive footage of the band’s performances.
The story begins with the formation of the band in Liverpool, and charts their rise to fame and eventual breakup.
The film’s humour derives from the many references and jokes that are made at The Beatles’ expense. For example,
The Rutles’ first single is called “I Must Be In Love”, which bears a striking resemblance to The Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love”.
There are also numerous references to the various members of The Beatles, such as Dirk McQuickly (played by Eric Idle), who is clearly a parody of Paul McCartney.
The film also features cameo appearances from various celebrities, including Mick Jagger, Paul Simon, and Bianca Jagger.
These appearances add to the film’s humour and contribute to its overall sense of irreverence.
Breaking Glass (1980)
Breaking Glass (1980) is a British drama film directed by Brian Gibson, starring Hazel O’Connor, Phil Daniels, and Jonathan Pryce.
The film explores the rise of a young and talented musician named Kate (Hazel O’Connor) who is determined to make it in the music industry.
The story begins with Kate working as a waitress in a pub while performing her music on the side.
She is discovered by Danny (Phil Daniels), a sleazy manager who sees the potential in her and offers to help her become a star.
Kate is initially hesitant but eventually agrees to work with Danny.
As Kate’s fame grows, she finds herself increasingly disillusioned with the music industry and the compromises she has to make to be successful.
She clashes with Danny, who wants her to sell out and become more commercial. Meanwhile, Kate’s relationship with her bandmates and her boyfriend (played by Jonathan Pryce) becomes strained as they struggle to reconcile their own dreams and desires with Kate’s rising stardom.
Breaking Glass is a powerful and poignant film that captures the spirit of rebellion and youth culture in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
The film features a fantastic soundtrack, with Hazel O’Connor’s original songs and performances showcasing her talent as a singer and songwriter.
The film also tackles important social issues, such as class inequality and the exploitation of young artists in the music industry.
Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains (1982)
“Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains” is a punk rock cult classic that follows the rise of an all-female teenage band, The Stains, as they struggle to make a name for themselves in the male-dominated music industry.
The film stars a young Diane Lane as the lead singer, Corinne Burns, who becomes an icon for a generation of young women looking to break free from societal constraints and assert their independence.
The story begins when The Stains, a band of three teenage girls, decide to hit the road and tour the country in a beat-up van.
Along the way, they meet a washed-up DJ named Billy, played by Ray Winstone, who sees something special in the band and decides to help them gain exposure.
Billy arranges for them to play at larger venues and even secures them a spot on a national TV show.
As their fame grows, the Stains become symbols of female empowerment and rebellion, inspiring a legion of young female fans to follow in their footsteps.
But as their success begins to take its toll, tensions arise within the band, and Corinne is forced to confront the reality of what it takes to make it in the music industry.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains” is a gritty and authentic portrayal of the punk rock scene of the early ’80s, with a strong focus on the struggles faced by young women trying to break into a male-dominated industry.
The film’s raw energy and feminist themes have made it a beloved cult classic among music and film fans alike.
Bob Roberts (1992)
Bob Roberts is a satirical comedy-drama film written, directed, and starring Tim Robbins.
The film is presented in mockumentary style and follows the rise of a right-wing populist folk singer named Bob Roberts as he runs for a seat in the U.S. Senate.
Roberts uses his celebrity status and folksy charm to appeal to the working-class voters, all while advocating for conservative policies and attacking his liberal opponent with false accusations and conspiracy theories.
However, as the election progresses, it becomes clear that Roberts’ true agenda is more sinister than he initially lets on.
Through its satirical tone, Bob Roberts takes aim at the media, politics, and American society as a whole, highlighting the dangers of blindly following charismatic leaders without questioning their motives.
The film features a strong cast, including Alan Rickman as Roberts’ campaign manager, Giancarlo Esposito as a skeptical journalist, and Ray Wise as Roberts’ wealthy benefactor.
Singles is a romantic comedy-drama film directed by Cameron Crowe, set in the grunge scene of early 1990s Seattle.
The movie follows a group of young singles, including Steve (Campbell Scott), Janet (Bridget Fonda), and Cliff (Matt Dillon), as they navigate their careers, relationships, and the changing music scene.
The film captures the atmosphere of the Seattle music scene during its heyday, with cameos from various musicians such as Chris Cornell, Eddie Vedder, and Alice in Chains.
The soundtrack, which features songs from iconic grunge bands such as Soundgarden and Pearl Jam, adds to the film’s authenticity and appeal.
The main storyline revolves around the romantic relationships between the characters. Steve is a city official who falls for Linda (Kyra Sedgwick), a talented musician who is hesitant to commit to a serious relationship.
Meanwhile, Janet is a coffee shop waitress who is pursued by Cliff, a lead singer in a struggling band who is looking for his big break.
The film’s strength lies in its realistic portrayal of young adult life, with the characters struggling to balance their aspirations with their desire for love and companionship.
The movie also touches on themes of friendship, loss, and the power of music to bring people together.
Airheads is a comedy film directed by Michael Lehmann and starring Brendan Fraser, Steve Buscemi, and Adam Sandler.
The film follows a struggling rock band named The Lone Rangers who take a radio station hostage in an attempt to get their demo tape played on air.
The film begins with The Lone Rangers, consisting of Chazz (Brendan Fraser), Rex (Steve Buscemi), and Pip (Adam Sandler), trying to get their demo tape played on a local radio station.
After their repeated attempts are unsuccessful, they decide to take the station hostage, unaware that it’s the last day of the station’s existence.
With the help of some eccentric allies, including a station intern named Kayla (Amy Locane) and a veteran DJ named Ian (Joe Mantegna), the band tries to negotiate with the police and make their dreams of success a reality.
Airheads is a raucous, irreverent comedy that is as much a celebration of rock music as it is a parody of the industry.
The film features a strong ensemble cast and some memorable scenes, including a performance by the band at a prison and a cameo appearance by Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead.
While the film received mixed reviews upon release, it has since become a cult classic and is regarded as one of the quintessential comedies of the 1990s.
That Thing You Do! (1996)
Directed and written by Tom Hanks, That Thing You Do! is a charming and delightful comedy-drama that celebrates the spirit of 1960s rock and roll.
Set in 1964, the film follows the rise and fall of a fictional one-hit wonder band from Erie, Pennsylvania called “The Wonders.”
The story begins when the band, originally called “The Oneders,” is discovered by a talent scout and given the opportunity to record a song.
Their upbeat and catchy tune, “That Thing You Do!,” becomes an overnight sensation and the band is thrust into the national spotlight.
They embark on a whirlwind tour, experience the highs of fame and fortune, and even make a guest appearance on a popular television show.
However, the pressures of the music industry and the band’s own internal conflicts begin to take their toll.
The lead singer, Jimmy (Johnathon Schaech), becomes increasingly egotistical and difficult to work with, causing tension with his bandmates.
The bass player, T.B. (Ethan Embry), falls in love with a local girl and begins to question his commitment to the band.
The band’s manager (Tom Hanks) struggles to keep the band together and secure their next hit.
What sets this film apart is its attention to detail and authenticity.
The music, costumes, and set design all capture the essence of the era, transporting viewers back to a time when rock and roll was changing the world.
The performances are top-notch, with standout performances from Tom Everett Scott as the drummer, Guy, and Liv Tyler as Jimmy’s girlfriend, Faye.
Velvet Goldmine (1998)
Velvet Goldmine (1998) is a visually stunning tribute to the glam rock era of the 1970s, directed by Todd Haynes.
Set in 1984, the film centers on journalist Arthur Stuart (Christian Bale) who is assigned to investigate the disappearance of former glam rock superstar Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys Meyers).
As Stuart delves into Slade’s past, he uncovers a web of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll that reveals the rise and fall of the glam rock movement.
The film features a brilliant cast, with standout performances from Rhys Meyers as the androgynous and enigmatic Slade, and Ewan McGregor as his frenemy Curt Wild, a wild and unpredictable American rock star.
The film’s soundtrack, which includes classic glam rock songs from David Bowie, Iggy Pop, and Lou Reed, adds to the film’s authenticity and immersive experience.
The film is a love letter to the flamboyant and outrageous performers of the era, and its visual style captures the glitz and glamour of the time, from the outrageous costumes to the glittering stage shows.
However, the film is not just a celebration of the music, but also a commentary on the politics and social issues of the time, including sexuality, identity, and the AIDS crisis.
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Almost Famous (2000)
Almost Famous is a coming-of-age film that follows the story of William Miller (Patrick Fugit), a young aspiring music journalist in the 1970s who is given the chance of a lifetime when he is sent on tour with the fictional band Stillwater for a Rolling Stone article.
The film is a heartfelt tribute to the rock ‘n’ roll era, filled with references to classic rock bands, groupies, and the music scene of the 70s.
At its core, Almost Famous is a story about the pursuit of one’s passion and the sacrifices and compromises one must make to achieve success.
The performances in the film are exceptional, with standout performances from Kate Hudson as Penny Lane, a captivating groupie who becomes William’s muse, and Frances McDormand as Elaine Miller, William’s strict and overprotective mother.
Cameron Crowe’s direction and writing are masterful, bringing to life a world that is both nostalgic and contemporary, and capturing the essence of the rock ‘n’ roll culture of the time.
The film’s soundtrack is also a standout, featuring classic rock songs from the era as well as original tracks from the fictional band Stillwater.
Overall, Almost Famous is a beautifully crafted film that captures the magic and energy of the rock ‘n’ roll era and tells a poignant coming-of-age story that is both entertaining and deeply moving.
It’s a must-watch for music fans and anyone who has ever dreamed of pursuing their passion.
Hedwig And The Angry Inch (2001)
Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a musical comedy-drama film directed by John Cameron Mitchell, who also wrote and starred in the film.
The movie follows Hedwig Robinson, a genderqueer East German rock singer who fronts the band “The Angry Inch.”
Hedwig’s story is told through a series of flashbacks as she tours the country with her band, playing to small audiences in dive bars and restaurants.
She recounts her life story, from growing up in East Germany as a boy named Hansel to undergoing a botched sex change operation in order to marry an American soldier and move to the United States.
After her husband leaves her, Hedwig begins performing as a rock singer, writing songs about her life experiences and her search for identity.
As Hedwig travels across the country, she becomes increasingly frustrated with her lack of success and recognition, particularly in comparison to her former protégé and lover, Tommy Gnosis.
As the tour progresses, Hedwig’s past and present begin to collide, and she must confront the traumas and issues that have led her to where she is now.
The film is a powerful exploration of gender identity, sexuality, and the search for self-expression and acceptance.
It is filled with energetic musical performances, colorful costumes, and bold, theatrical visuals that perfectly capture the spirit of Hedwig’s story.
The film’s message of self-acceptance and finding one’s own voice has resonated with audiences for years, and Hedwig and the Angry Inch has become a cult classic in the years since its release.