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6 Movies like Almost Famous: Rock ‘n’ Roll Antiques

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Roxanne_Sancto_itcher_contributor“If you enjoyed the rock’n’roll lifestyle of the swinging sixties in Almost Famous, there are two similar movies that should not be missed: Oliver Stone’s The Doors (1991) and James Mangold’s Walk The Line (2005).” ~ Roxanne Sancto

Although The Doors’ drummer, John Densmore, was the only one of the remaining band who appreciated Oliver Stone’s take on the band’s story, I really enjoyed the film and think Val Kilmer offered and excellent performance as Jim Morrison. Even Meg Ryan outdid herself in the role of Morrison’s long-term companion, Pamela Courson. Meg, who usually opts for light-hearted romance movies, really immersed herself in the role of Jim’s troubled girlfriend.

`The Doors´ (Oliver Stone, 1991)

A young Jim Morrison sits in the back of his family’s car, driving along a desert highway. They pass by a Native American man dying by the roadside, which makes a huge impact on Jim. Throughout the film, we see him reappear vaguely by Jim’s side.

The film starts with Jim’s days at UCLA, where one of his films is being screened; shortly afterwards, he meets Ray Manzarek who introduces him to Robby Krieger and John Densmore. The Doors are born.

At a party, Jim meets Pamela Courson who has attended the shindig with her boyfriend. Jim follows her home and climbs a tree up towards her balcony – she soon becomes infatuated by his poetic charms. Extremely interested in the effects and inspirations induced by psychedelic drugs, Jim talks his band mates into taking a trip to and in Death Valley. Some experience their trip better than others like Krieger for example, who seems to be suffering the whole way through.

With their first recorded songs such as Light My Fire and The End they take to the stage at the Whiskey a Go Go and further clubs on the Sunset Strip and within no time build a big a fan base.

If you like Almost Famous, you will like The Doors film, as it is filled with great music, a brilliant cast and an overall rock’n’roll vibe, complete with drug fuelled spats between band members and girlfriends.

`Walk The Line´ (James Mangold, 2005)

Walk The Line opens to Johnny Cash (Joaquin Phoenix) sitting backstage, waiting to perform his infamous gig at the Folsom State Prison. Sat next to a table saw, he is reminded of his childhood and the death of his brother, Jack.

Jack had been training to become a pastor, but died due to the injuries of an accident with a chainsaw. This put even more strain on Johnny’s relationship with his father, Ray, and as a result, he enrolled in the United States Airforce.

Cash started writing songs when he purchased his first guitar in 1952, whilst still on base. After his discharge, he moved to Memphis, Tennessee with his wife Vivian Liberto, and they started a family. Here, he put together a band with which he auditioned for Sun Records owner, Sam Philips.

They land a contract and start touring as Johnny Cash & The Tennessee Two. He then meets the singer, June Carter (Reese Witherspoon), who was married at the time. They spend a lot of time together but Johnny can’t seem to win her heart and falls deeper and deeper into the downward spiral of alcohol and drugs.

For several years, the two of them dance around a Ring of Fire; while June is obviously fond of Johnny, his erratic behaviour puts her off of wanting to engage in a serious relationship with him. It turns out, the couple had to go through a lot of ups and downs before finally meeting in the middle, when Johnny once again proposes to her on stage and this time, she finally accepts.

One of my recommended movies if you like Almost Famous is definitely Walk The Line; it may be slightly more serious and a tad sad, but it still captures the infamous “on the road” feeling, we all like so much.


Movies that are Similar to `Almost Famous´

What was your favourite Almost Famous moment? You may not want to admit it, because it was an obvious cheese-factor, but I bet you anything it was their singing along to Tiny Dancer on the tour bus!

If you’re looking for a little more fun and a little less cheese, however, watch Alex Proyas’s Garage Days, featuring Katie Noonan  and David McCormack.

Who knows, you might shed a little tear when they are booed off stage!


The Tour’s Not Over Yet – More Movies to Watch If You Like Almost Famous

Jane PicRoxanne’s recommendations for movies to watch if you like Almost Famous reminded me about Walk the Line, which I hadn’t seen in ages, and introduced me to The Doors. Thanks for the inspiration! By Jane Howarth.
Now I’ve got a few movie suggestions of my own to add. Following Roxanne’s trip to the swinging ‘60s, it seemed like the ‘70s should be the next step, so prepare for a whole lot of glitter.

If You Like Almost Famous You Will Like…

‘The Runaways’ (Floria Sigismondi, 2010)

Floria Sigismondi’s band movie is an origins story. Kristin Stewart portrays Joan Jett, with Dakota Fanning as bandmate Cherie Currie, as they fight to put a band together.

This is a coming-of-age movie with a rock and roll side that goes beyond the naïve journalist’s adoration, instead turning into a desperation to live every bit of the lifestyle.

It might focus on a band insider rather than a journalist’s borderline-entourage status, but The Runaways reveals Joan Jett’s same desperation to leave small town life behind for the music scene.

‘Velvet Goldmine’ (Todd Haynes, 1998)

Thinly veiled David Bowie stand-in, Brian Slade, fakes his alter-ego’s death (a cross between Ziggy Stardust’s lyrical demise on the eponymous album and his onstage end at the Hammersmith Odeon).

We only really get to know the character, however, when a music journalist (and long-time fan) decides to piece his life together through a series of interviews with friends, family and record industry insiders.

Cameron Crowe’s cult movie features fifty songs and more than doubled the standard music budget of a Hollywood picture. Todd Haynes’ ode to glam rock doesn’t quite reach those levels, but it’s on track with plenty hits from Roxy Music, Brian Eno and T. Rex.

Another music journalist who follows his hero. Velvet Goldmine’s older characters let it visit the excesses a little more freely, while the glam rock backdrop makes the performers seem less human.

‘Saturday Night Fever’ (John Badham, 1977)

There’s more to this movie than John Travolta’s white suit and a BeeGees soundtrack (though let’s face it, both of those are pretty major components).

Beyond the shiny disco lights, Saturday Night Fever is all about the harsh realities of life on the run-down side of the Brooklyn Bridge. Disco gives dancers like Tony Manero an escape, making them part of something shiny and exciting, but perhaps it’s not so easy to shake off those problems.

Saturday Night Fever doesn’t share Almost Famous’ optimism – life’s hard, and if you live for music, you’d better fit it in around your day job. But the soundtrack’s great, and this movie captures a totally different side of the scene.

‘This Is Spinal Tap’ (Rob Reiner, 1984)

I can’t help giving a nod to tour mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap. Made in 1984 but charting the decline of a supposedly legendary ‘70s band, it actually feels like a great match.

Like Cameron Crowe’s movie, it takes inspiration from real incidents, and somehow it captures the same blend of ambition and chaos which rules the tour in Almost Famous.

Instead of finding disillusionment, here we can’t help but laugh as the band’s misfortunes stem from the fact that they’re just not very good. As one of their critics puts it, ‘what day did the Lord create Spinal Tap, and couldn’t he have rested on that day too?’

For all the humour, this floundering band’s tour feels like part of the Almost Famous world (18” Stonehenge notwithstanding).


Another Great Decade for Music

All these movies are full of classic songs you’ll be singing all day long (at least, I will be), and I think they really connect with their soundtracks. Still in need of a music fix?

Paola has listed the rock stars who took to film and the actors who think they’re band material.

Tell Us What You Think

What stories of fame and fortune have you enjoyed?Sing about it in the comments below.

**For a video playlist of the recommendations, please click here.

My name is Roxanne Sancto and I’ll be writing all things music, book and movie related for itcher mag. I also write for New Heroes & Pioneers’ upcoming Festival and Culture magazines, to be launched in the spring of 2014. I am the co-author of The Pink Boots and am currently working on two new novels. I love music, literature, cinema, crafting, yoga and animals.
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