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 by Rob Reiner from 1984 that has been named one of the funniest films of all time.
It follows the fictional rock band Spinal Tap on a tour across America, with many humorous moments along the way.
This cult classic has become an instant favorite among moviegoers for its dark humor, absurdist situations, cutting satire, and poignant reflections on heavy metal culture in general.
The documentary style of this film is what makes it so funny to watch because it feels like you’re watching real events unfold before your eyes.
It was directed by Rob Reiner and written by Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer.
The film stars Christopher Guest as Nigel Tufnel, Michael McKean as David St. Hubbins, and Harry Shearer as Derek Smalls.
The Commitments (1991)
The Commitments is a 1991 comedy-drama film based on the 1987 novel of the same name by Irish writer Roddy Doyle.
The story follows Jimmy Rabbitte Jr., who tries to put together an amateur jazz band in Dublin, Ireland.
The Commitments is a 1991 film about a group of Irish teens struggling to make it in the music business.
It’s directed by Alan Parker, and stars Robert Arkins as Jimmy Rabbitte Jr., Mary Alice as Sharon Rabbitte, and Bronagh Gallagher as Imelda Quirke.
The Commitments follows Jimmy Rabbitte Jr.’s quest to put together a band for his father’s pub after he inherits it upon his dad’s death.
He recruits a motley crew of friends from school who have no musical experience or talent.
No products found.
No products found.
The Girl Can’t Help It (1956)
This film was directed by Frank Tashlin and stars Jayne Mansfield as Lola Lolita as well as Mickey Rooney. The Girl Can’t Help It was nominated
The Girl Can’t Help It is a 1956 American musical comedy film starring Jayne Mansfield, Tom Ewell, Edmond O’Brien, Julie London, and Herbert Marshall.
The film was directed by Frank Tashlin, produced by Howard Hughes, written by Daniel Mainwaring (who also wrote the novel), and with music by Les Baxter.
Alone at home one evening, Gaby (Jayne Mansfield) sings to herself as she puts on makeup. She has just been abandoned by her boyfriend for a starlet.
As she sings about how love left her without warning, she fantasizes that she is on a stage in front of a crowd.
BEST ROCK AND ROLL MOVIES
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 one of the most iconic films from the 1950s. It was Elvis Presley’s third movie and his first film with a script. It was also the first time he worked with director Richard Thorpe.
The film was released on October 17, 1957, to a mixed reception. Some critics praised it as an excellent musical while others derided it for being too juvenile.
It was released during a period when Presley’s popularity was waning in North America due to his temporary retirement from live performances and his military service in Germany.
However, Jailhouse Rock became one of the biggest box office successes of 1957 and helped revitalize Presley’s career in Hollywood.
Vince Everett (Elvis Presley) is sentenced to two years in prison for involuntary manslaughter after killing a man in a barroom brawl.
While in prison, he befriends a young man named Hunk Houghton (Mickey Shaughnessy), whose cellmate Buzz (Dean Jones) has just died from pneumonia after receiving poor medical treatment.
Rock Star (2001)
Rock Star is a 2001 American comedy-drama film directed by Stephen Herek and starring Mark Wahlberg, Jennifer Aniston, and Timothy Spall.
The film tells the story of Chris “Izzy” Cole (Wahlberg), an employee at a music store who wins a contest to be the lead singer of his favorite band, Steel Dragon. The film also stars Robert Patrick, Jason Flemyng, Jimi Jamison, and Paul Blackthorne.
The film tells the story of Chris “Izzy” Cole (Wahlberg), an employee at a music store who wins a contest to be the lead singer of his favorite band, Steel Dragon. The film also stars Robert Patrick, Jason Flemyng, Jimi Jamison, and Paul Blackthorne. R
ock Star was filmed in Los Angeles, California from October 29 to December 11, 2000. It was released on February 22, 2001, in 2,505 theaters in the United States and grossed $13 million on its opening weekend.
Privilege is a fascinating Peter Watkin’s directed mockumentary.
In the film, britain’s biggest pop singer, Steven Shorter (Paul Jones), receives unwavering adulation and possesses total control over his rabid fans, which includes nearly the entire population.
Yet Shorter is not an autonomous performer, he is little more than a puppet for the government, promoting whatever agenda they see fit.
When a beautiful artist, Vanessa Ritchie (Jean Shrimpton), is commissioned to paint his portrait, she pushes Shorter to question his obedience to his manipulative handlers.
Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls (1970)
Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls is a cult film released in 1970 and directed by Russ Meyer. This movie has been described as the most outrageous of all his films.
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls tells an exaggerated, satirical story of three young women who go to Hollywood to find fame and fortune but instead find drugs, sex, degradation, lesbianism, and murder.
The story follows three young women as they make their way through an industry that chews people up and spits them out.
They go from naive young girls to overworked, underpaid sex-symbols who are addicted to drugs.
Phantom Of The Paradise (1974)
The Phantom of the Paradise is a 1974 American musical horror comedy film directed by Brian De Palma and starring Paul Williams as an evil record company mogul.
The screenplay was written by both William Finkelstein, who wrote the novelization, and Michael O’Donoghue.
The story follows a disfigured composer named Winslow Leach (Williams) who seeks revenge on his former mentor Swan (Paul Dooley), director of the world’s largest rock theater where Winslow believes he has been denied his rightful credit for composing Swan’s most recent smash hit opera.
I would recommend this movie for anyone looking for an entertaining movie with catchy songs from the 1970s!
A classic horror musical, Phantom of the Paradise is a cult film that has been hailed as one of the best rock and roll movies ever made.
Michael Apted’s film starring David Essex is a sequel to `That’ll Be the Day’, taking up the theme of the rise to fame of a pop star who suddenly finds himself the centre of media attention and immerses himself in sex and the heavy drug scene.
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 1978 mockumentary by Monty Python member Eric Idle.
The film, largely based on the Beatles’ career and life story, was created as an attempt to explain how the Beatles came together as a band. It was Idle’s first solo project after leaving Monty Python in 1975.
The Rutles were made up of four characters that served as caricatures of the members of the Beatles- Dirk (John Lennon), Nasty (Paul McCartney), Wally (George Harrison) and Clive (Ringo Starr).
The film has been called “a parody with music” that is both funny and poignant at moments throughout its running time.
This film is another mockumentary in the same vein as This Is Spinal Tap and Priviledge.
Breaking Glass (1980)
Breaking Glass is a 1980 UK film directed by Brian Gibson about the British punk band of the same name.
Many people are not familiar with the 1980 film Breaking Glass. The movie is about a woman, Kate (played by Hazel O’Connor), who is living in an abusive relationship with her husband Ian (played by Phil Daniels).
The soundtrack for Breaking Glass features songs from the English punk rock band of the same name as well as artists such as Elvis Costello, Graham Parker, Joe Jackson, Pete Shelley of Buzzcocks fame, and more!
The film received mixed reviews but has since been praised for its feminist themes that were ahead of their time.
A London punk rocker (Hazel O’Connor) rises and falls with her group, backed by a hustler (Phil Daniels) and a shady producer (Jon Finch).
Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains (1982)
The 1982 film The Fabulous Stains is a cult classic that depicts the rise and fall of an all-female punk rock band.
Based on the novel written by Lynda Barry, it is directed by Lou Adler and stars Diane Lane, Laura Dern, and Marianne Kanter.
Corinne Burns (Diane Lane) is a typical frustrated teenager living in a nowhere town until she catches punk band the Looters.
Bewitched by the whole punk scene, she and her fledgling band, the Stains, join the tour, and in no time at all become media magnets.
The band forms a rabid following of young girls, while Corrine begins a relationship with Looters singer Billy (Ray Winstone).
As the Stains get bigger and bigger, however, Corinne’s ambition gets the better of her.
Bob Roberts (1992)
Bob Roberts is a 1992 film that stars Tim Robbins in the title role. The film tells the story of Bob’s campaign for public office as he faces obstacles and challenges from his opponents, friends, family, and even himself.
The film is a great political satire produced by Universal Pictures; it tells the story of one man’s journey to become a politician and how he overcomes many difficulties throughout this process.
The movie starts out with Bob singing “Too Much Rock ‘n’ Roll Will Kill You” on stage in front of an audience. After he finishes his song, he addresses his fans and answers questions from them while holding a cigarette between his index finger and thumb.
Millionaire conservative Bob Roberts (Tim Robbins) launches an insurgent campaign against incumbent senator Brickley Paiste (Gore Vidal), firing up crowds at his rallies by singing ’60s-style acoustic folk songs with lyrics espousing far-right conservative social and economic views.
Investigative journalist Bugs Raplin (Giancarlo Esposito) shadows the Roberts campaign, trying to connect Roberts to a drug-trafficking scheme, but an assassination attempt lays suspicion on both men.
The 1992 film Singles is a coming of age, romantic comedy set in Seattle. It follows the lives of several people living on their own for the first time as they navigate through life’s ups and downs while trying to figure out what it means to be an adult.
The film explores themes like love, commitment, friendship, and finding oneself while telling these stories from a uniquely 1990s point-of-view.
The film Singles, released in 1992, was a box office and critical success. It is considered one of the most iconic films about Seattle before it became the hipster haven we know today.
The film follows six friends as they navigate through their twenties with humor and heartbreak.
The movie stars Bridget Fonda (the daughter of Peter) alongside Matt Dillon, Kyra Sedgwick, Campbell Scott, and Bill Pullman.
Airheads is a 1994 American comedy film starring Brendan Fraser, Steve Buscemi, and Adam Sandler.
The film tells the story of three aspiring rock musicians who are on tour with an up-and-coming band when they learn that their manager has been kidnapped by a crazed fan.
The movie may not have aged well in terms of humor or cinematography but it’s worth watching for its nostalgic value. If you’re looking for your next favorite ’90s flick then look no further!
The 1994 comedy Airheads tells the story of a group of rockers who come up with an elaborate plan to steal from their record company.
The film, which stars Brendan Fraser, Steve Buscemi, and Michael McKean, is considered by some critics as one of the best comedies ever made.
That Thing You Do! (1996)
That Thing You Do! is a 1996 American musical comedy-drama film written and directed by Tom Hanks, who also co-stars in it.
Set in the summer of 1964, the film tells the story of the rise and fall of a fictional one-hit wonder rock band called The Wonders. The group was assembled by Jimmy Mattingly (Hanks). Along with Mattingly, the group consisted of Guy (Liv Tyler), Lenny (Steve Zahn), and Chad (Tom Everett Scott).
The band scored a local hit with their song “That Thing You Do.” The film received favorable reviews from critics and was a box office success, grossing $25 million on a $16 million budget. It won an Academy Award for Best Original Song for “That Thing You Do!”
It was also nominated for Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Cinematography, and Best Music, Original Musical or Comedy Score.
The soundtrack features many popular songs from the 1960s to 1990s including “Rock Around The Clock”, “Can’t Help Falling In Love With You”, “Walking On Sunshine”, and many more!
Velvet Goldmine (1998)
The film Velvet Goldmine is a 1998 British-American musical drama that tells the story of a journalist in search of his childhood idol, the glam rocker Brian Slade. The film explores themes such as sexual identity and fame.
In 1998, the British film, Velvet Goldmine, was released to mixed reviews. It was based on a novel by journalist and author of Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh.
The movie starred Ewan McGregor as Curt Wild and Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Brian Slade with appearances from Christian Bale as Arthur Stace (a character loosely based on real-life preacher Arthur Bell) and Toni Collette as Nicola Six.
Velvet Goldmine is set in London during the 1970s when glam rock music was at its peak.
No products found.
No products found.
Almost Famous (2000)
In 2000, Cameron Crowe wrote and directed a film about the adventures of William Miller as he tries to make it in the music industry.
The movie is based on Crowe’s experiences as a young journalist for Rolling Stone magazine during his time with 1970s rock bands touring America.
It stars Patrick Fugit (as William Miller), Billy Crudup (as Lester Bangs), Kate Hudson (as Penny Lane), and Frances McDormand (as Sandra Phillips).
The main difference between the two is that while both cover similar ground such as fame, drugs, sex and rock-and-roll; they do so with vastly different tones.
For example, when Penny Lane’s character (played by Kate Hudson) tells her mom about all the crazy things she does on tour with Stillwater (the band), her mother asks if she’s been raped or had any abortions yet to which Penny replies “Mom! I’m just trying to be famous”.
Hedwig And The Angry Inch (2001)
Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a 2001 American musical comedy-drama film directed by John Cameron Mitchell. The film tells the story of a fictional rock band fronted by an East German singer, Hedwig Robinson, who was born as Hansel Schmidt.
The plot revolves around Hedwig’s life after being left by her lover for an American GI named Tommy Gnosis with whom she had started a relationship while performing in West Berlin during the Cold War era.
The film stars John Cameron Mitchell as Hedzig, Miriam Shor and Michael Pitt as Tommy Gnosis; it features songs written for the stage show of the same name which premiered at Off-Broadway’s Jane Street Theatre in 1998 before transferring to Broadway
In 2001, the popular rock musical Hedwig and The Angry Inch was adapted into a film. Directed by John Cameron Mitchell, the movie starred actor and singer Neil Patrick Harris as “Hedwig Robinson”, an East German transsexual who is forced to play in drag bars after her botched sex-change operation.
Ready to learn about more Film History & Film Movements?