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American Pop (1981)

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The story of four generations of a Russian Jewish immigrant family of musicians whose careers parallel the history of American popular music in the 20th century.

Director:

Ralph Bakshi

Writer:

Ronni Kern

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ron Thompson ... Tony / Pete
Mews Small ... Frankie (as Marya Small)
Jerry Holland Jerry Holland ... Louie
Lisa Jane Persky ... Bella
Jeffrey Lippa Jeffrey Lippa ... Zalmie
Roz Kelly ... Eva Tanguay
Frank DeKova ... Crisco (as Frank De Kova)
Rick Singer Rick Singer ... Benny (as Richard Singer)
Elsa Raven ... Hannele
Ben Frommer Ben Frommer ... Palumbo
Amy Levitt ... Nancy
Leonard Stone ... Leo Stern
Eric Taslitz Eric Taslitz ... Little Pete
Gene Borkan Gene Borkan ... Izzy
Richard Moll ... Beat Poet
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Storyline

"American Pop" is the animated story of a very talented and troubled family starting with 19th century Russia and moving through several generations of musicians. The film covers American popular music from the pre-jazz age through rhythm and blues, 1950s rock 'n' roll, drug-laden psychedelia, and punk rock, finally ending with the onset of New Wave in the early 1980s. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

It's an epic journey down through the music of American time through the eyes and spectacular moving art of Ralph Bakshi, the creator of "Fritz the Cat", "Heavy Traffic" and "The Lord of the Rings". It's the ultimate sight and sound experience with the mind blowing music of Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and many other great American artists. See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Hebrew | Russian | Yiddish

Release Date:

13 February 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Amerykanska muzyka pop See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$6,000,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Although all of the characters are fictional, many were partially inspired by real people. The character of Frankie, for instance, was based on Grace Slick (of Jefferson Airplane) and Janis Joplin (of Big Brother and the Holding Company). See more »

Goofs

When Pete is playing "Night Moves" in the recording studio, his fingers are moving up on the piano although the notes in the song can clearly be heard going high to low. See more »

Quotes

Man: Hey, DiNoble, what are you doin'?
Tony: Thinkin'.
Man: Thinkin' of what?
Tony: Clean thoughts.
Man: Then how come my dishes are dirty?
Tony: Dirty?
Man: Dirty.
Tony: Well, them poor dumb little bastards. They never learned the power of positive thought.
Man: I thought you said you was a dishwasher.
Tony: I'm a dishwasher.
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

Special thanks to the late, great Jimi Hendrix. See more »

Alternate Versions

In some versions of the film, dialog has been redone in at last two scenes, presumably to make points more clear. For example, in Little Pete's first scene, he is asked what his Dad would say about him hanging backstage with a rock band. In one version, Pete says "Nothing. He's dead." In the other version, he instead says "I never met my Dad. He's some kind of mystery" (which serves as a better setup for information learned later) Also, Tony returns to the band's apartment after his release from the hospital, only to find they have moved out. In both versions, under 'People Are Strange,' we hear him on the phone with a friend, but the phone conversations begin completely differently. In one we never learn what happened to the band, only that they seemed to have moved out and left Tony behind, while in the other we learn that the band has gone on to big things, with a gold album. Both versions' phone calls end the same way, though, with Tony desperately asking his friend for money or drugs. See more »

Connections

Edited from Stormy Weather (1943) See more »

Soundtracks

Onward Christian Soldiers
Music by Arthur Sullivan (as Sir Arthur S. Sullivan)
Lyrics by Sabine Baring-Gould (as Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Good. Especially if you're a music geek, like me.
23 November 2003 | by dividebyzeroSee all my reviews

I love the animation style used in this movie. The interlacing of real footage and photos from earlier times brings a level of realism not seen in many animated films. The characters move realistically as well; minute body language is portrayed well. Voice overs are great. Of course it's not "Disney quality", but it's got a grittiness to it that truly makes it original.

Now I can see how one could criticize this movie. Basically, it all depends on how you watch it. If you watch it as a drama, you'll be disappointed. The plot is very centered around the one tragic late hippieish character, and is pretty simple and predictable. But there's a certain amount of charm within the overall story, kind of a sad, but beautiful shine.

If you watch it more as a musical, the movie works fine. The songs chosen are fantastic, and they totally underline the feel of the scenes in which they are used. In one of the first scenes, taking place in Czar-era Russia, there is no dialogue, only subtitles (giving it a great historical feel). The soundtrack is a sad and stirring Russian song sung acappella. You really get a sense of what the characters were going through.

This style continues throughout the movie. One of the most emotional scenes, for me, takes place in a cornfield, with the character torn apart with what he's done with his life. Janis Joplin's version of "Summertime" (an interesting choice, perhaps a hint of a throwback to earlier eras, as it is a Gershwin tune) as haunting as ever plays as the character cries. Messed up. But well done.

Jimi Hendrix has a cameo. A pseudo-Joplin/Slick character has a major role. A Sex Pistols parody jams it out. Late 70s corporate goons are running the studio. Great fun.

And that's how you have to enjoy the movie; and that's probably why music geeks will love it more than anyone else.


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