Movies About Musicians

Having just seen (actually for the second time) the made for VH1 movie “Hysteria: The Def Leppard Story” and recently also having watched “Ray” and “The Five Heartbeats” got me thinking about all the movies I’d seen about real or fictitious musicians or singers.

Musical biopics, I suppose they’re called in the trade; biographical pictures that because of their subject matter must include a great deal of music.

So I thought I’d put together a list, and over the next few months I’ll be updating to add comments and ratings to these flicks as a guide to the newly needing to be inspired musicians on my reading list. Because I’ve seen most of these movies, over the years, and found them either inspirational, insipid or in some cases, wildly inaccurate about the way being a musician actually works. No matter, the accuracy, however, it seems that the movie-going public has ALWAYS been fascinated by biographies of musicians, whether they would have them in their homes or not.

So here’s the list:

BIOPICS
Title Subject Star Year Rating
Amadeus Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Tom Hulce 1984   
Backbeat The Beatles / Stu Sutcliffe
and John Lennon
Stephen Dorff and Ian Hart 1994   
Beyond the Sea Bobby Darin Kevin Spacey 2004   
Bird Charlie Parker Forest Whitaker    
Bound for Glory Woodie Guthrie David Carradine    
Coal Miner’s Daughter Loretta Lynn Cissy Spacek 1980   
Control Ian Curtis (Joy Division) Sam Riley 2007  
Daydream Believers: The
Monkees Story
The Monkees   2000  
De-Lovely Cole Porter Kevin Kline 2004   
Elvis Elvis Presley Jonathan Rhys Meyers    
Great Balls of Fire Jerry Lee Lewis Dennis Quaid 1989   
Hendrix Jimi Hendrix Wood Harris 2000  
Hilary and Jackie Hilary and Jacqueline Du Pre Emily Watson and Rachel
Griffiths
1998   
Hysteria: The Def Leppard
Story
Def Leppard   2001   
I’ll Cry Tomorrow Lillian Roth Rita Hayworth    
Immortal Beloved Ludwig van Beethoven Gary Oldham 1994   
Impromptu Frederic Chopin Hugh Grant 1991  
La Bamba Ritchie Valens Lou Diamond Phillips 1987   
Lady Sings the Blues Billie Holiday Diana Ross    
Life with Judy Garland Judy Garland Judy Davis    
Lizstomania Franz Lizst Roger Daltrey    
Night and Day Cole Porter Cary Grant    
Ray Ray Charles Jamie Foxx 2004   
Selena Selena Jennifer Lopez 1997   
Shine David Helfgott Geoffrey Rush    
Sid and Nancy Sid Vicious Gary Oldham 1986   
Song Without End Franz Liszt Dirk Bogarde 1960  
Stoned Brian Jones Leo Gregory 2005  
Sweet Dreams Patsy Cline Jessica Lange 1985  
The Benny Goodman Story Benny Goodman Steve Allen    
The Buddy Holly Story Buddy Holly Gary Busey    
The Debussy Film Claude Debussy Oliver Reed 1965  
The Doors The Doors / Jim Morrison Val Kilmer 1991   
The Gene Krupa Story Gene Krupa Sal Mineo 1959  
The Glenn Miller Story Glenn Miller Jimmy Stewart 1953  
The Jacksons: An American
Dream
The Jacksons / Jackson Five      
The Jolson Story Al Jolson Larry Parks 1946  
The Josephine Baker Story Josephine Baker Lynn Whitfield    
The Life of Verdi Guiseppe Verdi Ronald Pickup    
The Linda McCartney Story Linda McCartney      
The Man in the Mirror Michael Jackson Flex Alexander 2004  
The Pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman Adrien Brody 2002  
The Temptations The Temptations      
Wagner Richard Wagner Richard Burton    
Walk the Line Johnny Cash Joaquin Phoenix 2005   
What’s Love Got to Do With
It?
Tina and Ike Turner Angela Bassett and Laurence
Fishburne
1993   
Why Do Fools Fall in Love? Frankie Lymon      
Yankee Doodle Dandy George M. Cohan James Cagney 1942  

VARYING DEGREES OF FICTION
Title Subject Star Year Rating
A Star is Born   James Mason and Judy Garland    
A Star is Born (remake)   Barbra Streisand and Kris
Kristofferson
   
Bandits        
Dream Girls   Jennifer Hudson, Beyonce
Knowles, Eddie Murphy
   
Grace of My Heart Denise Waverly/Edna Buxton Ileanna Douglas  1996  
Honeysuckle Rose   Willie Nelson    
Honkytonk Man Red Stovall (Jimmie Rodgers) Clint Eastwood    
Moscow on the Hudson   Robin Williams    
Music and Lyrics   Hugh Grant and Drew
Barrymore
   
New York, New York   Robert Deniro and Liza
Minnelli
1977  
Rock Star   Mark Wahlberg    
Songwriter   Willie Nelson    
Sueno   John Leguizamo    
That Thing You Do The Wonders Tom Hanks    
The Commitments        
The Fabulous Baker Boys   Beau and Jeff Bridges    
The Five Heartbeats   Robert Townsend    
True Country   George Strait    
Young Man with a Horn Rick Martin (Bix
Biederbecke)
Kirk Douglas    
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