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Guide Picks - The Top 10 Greatest Oldies Music Films
Here's a list of the best films - fiction and non-fiction - about oldies music and oldies artists, handpicked. It's subjective, of course, but it covers the 50s, 60s, and 70s in search of what your Guide considers the classic movies about Oldies music. This will be an ongoing resource that I'll be adding to constantly; if you have any suggestions for this list, feel free and e-mail me!

American Hot Wax
Quite possibly the best fictionalized film about rock and roll ever made, and certainly the best about its early years. This acclaimed film shows the true spirit of those heady formative years, focusing on Alan Freed's story but expanding to include as much of the rock universe as possible. A loving tribute to the magic of the music. Hard to find, but more than worth it - the closing concert alone, featuring real stars, is worth the price.
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Hank Williams - The Show He Never Gave
A fascinating, overlooked gem, this Canadian film features "Sneezy" Waters in a eerily accurate depiction of Hank, spending a fictionalized last night on Earth playing a concert in his mind. You not only get to hear faithful renditions of Hank Sr. classics, you get a number of glimpses into his dark and tortured soul. An absolutely unique film experience.
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The Girl Can't Help It
There were a ton of quickie rock and roll movie cash-ins in the Fifties, but none were as funny or energetic as this one. Directed by Frank Tashlin, who was responsible for Jerry Lewis' best films and some of Warner Bros' best cartoons, it spins a wild yarn about mobsters and fills it with any number of rock and rollers performing their hits, not the least of which is Little Richard. Jayne Mansfield and Julie London aren't hard to look at, either. A load of fun.
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A Hard Day's Night
What can you say about the movie that introduced Beatlemania to the world? Just this: it's worth seeing again, having been gloriously restored in the past few years. And if you don't enjoy the Fabs, give it a chance anyway - chances are you'll walk away filled with the same happy energy early Sixties audiences were infected with. Rewrites the rules on rock movies, and does it with a wink.
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Don't Look Back
The Sixties' most enigmatic figure weaves a potent myth around himself here, dealing with a fickle public and a clueless press and somehow rising above it all. This documentary - the best of its era - features the famous "Subterranean Homesick Blues" proto-video.
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Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock and Roll
This film does what all great documentaries should do: it offers evidence of rock deification, reveals the art behind the process, and then peers past the myth into the man. That man may or may not be someone you want to know better, but you won't be bored; Berry himself narrates some of this film, realizing this is his tale for the ages. Spellbinding.
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Elvis - '68 Comeback Special
Of course, no one called it a "comeback" back in 1968. That would have suggested that Elvis had left, and no one was ready to admit that. But the King pulled off rock's greatest reappearing act here, reminding a whole new generation why he deserved the crown. The "unplugged" sequence alone is quite possibly the best music Elvis ever made, and that's saying something.
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American Graffiti
It's not technically about the music, but there has never been a film to rival this one in terms of defining an era - in this case, the waning Fifties culture on display in 1962. The film managed to make instant stars out of its cast, introduce Wolfman Jack to the world, and single-handedly kick off the Fifties retro craze of the Seventies. A perfect portrait of a bygone era.
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That Was Rock: The T.A.M.I./T.N.T. Show
A star-studded gala, an embarrassment of riches. This 1965 TV show combines the talents of James Brown, the Rolling Stones, the Temptations, Marvin Gaye and many, many others, but what's most impressive is that every single artist here is working at his peak. James Brown's "Night Train" performance alone is regarded as one of the most insanely exciting moments in rock history.
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Standing in the Shadows of Motown
The newest addition to this list, and one that fills a much needed gap in rock history, paying long-overdue respect to the amazing musicians who backed Motown's hottest artists in its glory days. Features interviews with any number of rock legends past and present, all of whom attempt to explain the raw power behind the Sound of Young America.
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