American Pop

American Pop

4.5 2
Director: Ralph Bakshi

Cast: Ralph Bakshi, Ron Thompson, Marya Small, Jerry Holland

     
 

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The rise and growth of American popular music through the 20th century is reflected in the lives of four generations of one family in this animated drama directed by Ralph Bakshi. Zalmie (voice of Jeffrey Lippa), a Russian Jew, emigrates to America, and tries to struggle along as a comic and musician in vaudeville, until an injury suffered in World War I ends his… See more details below

Overview

The rise and growth of American popular music through the 20th century is reflected in the lives of four generations of one family in this animated drama directed by Ralph Bakshi. Zalmie (voice of Jeffrey Lippa), a Russian Jew, emigrates to America, and tries to struggle along as a comic and musician in vaudeville, until an injury suffered in World War I ends his singing career. Zalmie's son Benny (voice of Richard Singer) inherits his father's love for music, and when he grows to adulthood, he joins a jazz combo as a pianist; his career is cut short, however, when he's killed while fighting in World War II. Benny's son Tony (voice of Ron Thompson) is also bitten by the music bug and is determined to make his mark as a songwriter; he becomes involved in the Beat poetry and music community in San Francisco, and later falls in with a pioneering psychedelic band. Along the way, Tony fathers an illegitimate son named Pete (voice of Eric Taslitz), and ends up becoming Pete's guardian in New York City without realizing he's the boy's father. After Tony's death, Pete supports himself by dealing drugs, while struggling to make his dream of becoming a rock star a reality. Ralph Bakshi achieved American Pop's unique look through a process called "rotoscoping" -- shooting the scenes with live actors, and then tracing their movements onto animation cells.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Sharon Steinbach
An animated cult classic, Ralph Bakshi's American Pop says it all in the duality of its title: It chronicles both a century of popular music and a tale of father-son relationships among four generations of entertainers. Zalmi is a turn-of-the century Jewish immigrant who becomes a burlesque vaudevillian and mob-hit victim, while his son Benny dies before finding fame as a pianist. Benny's drifter son Tony, a self-destructive songwriter in San Francisco's psychedelic rock scene, leaves behind his boy Little Pete, who ultimately shines as a punk rock star. The film's visually compelling use of rotoscoping (tracing from live action) is punctuated by documentary footage of America's changing social and political climates. The soundtrack is a history lesson of 20th century music: George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Scott Joplin, Sam Cooke, Peter, Paul & Mary, Bob Dylan, The Mamas & The Papas, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Seger, and Lynyrd Skynyrd all get their due. From Minsky's and dance halls to Greenwich Village coffeehouses and West Coast rock festivals, American Pop is an unforgettable time capsule that drives home music's impact on all generations.
All Movie Guide - Jeremy Wheeler
American Pop is an ambitious and groundbreaking work of storytelling that also just happens to be animated. For years, love-him-or-hate-him director Ralph Bakshi pushed the envelope of animation as far as he could, which more often than not, resulted in some rather racy material (Streetfight, Fritz the Cat). Then came American Pop, which in 1981 ushered in not only a new style of animation for the masses (rotoscoping -- something Bakshi had played around with years before), but a soundtrack that covers almost 80 years of popular music, from Scott Joplin to Hendrix. It's a lofty goal, and even more so because of how utterly serious the sprawling story line is. This isn't loud and flashy like Heavy Metal, nor was the music as hip as Rock & Rule two years later. American Pop is a heavy drama that deliberately takes its time while trying to do justice to each character and their time period's music. That said, it tends to drag in some parts, focusing in on this or that person for too long -- but when the rock & roll revolution starts to take over, it knows when to turn it up and let the crazy visuals flow. The end, for instance, shouldn't work. Bakshi's been putting his audience through the emotional ringer for almost 90 minutes, but by the time Bob Seger starts blastin', you're there, fist in air, ready to preach the gospel. It's a great close to a daring animated film whose ambitions have to be respected, whether you enjoy it or not.

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Product Details

Release Date:
12/07/2010
UPC:
0014381684629
Original Release:
1981
Rating:
R
Source:
Image Entertainment
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Time:
1:36:00
Sales rank:
21,367

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Ron Thompson Tony & Pete
Marya Small Frankie
Jerry Holland Louie
Lisa Jane Persky Bella
Jeffrey Lippa Zalmie
Vincent Schiavelli Voice Only
Hilary Beane Voice Only
Roz Kelly Eva Tanguay
Frank de Kova Crisco
Richard Singer Benny
Elsa Raven Hannele
Ben Frommer Nicky Palumbo
Amy Levitt Nancy
Leonard Stone Leo
Eric Taslitz Little Pete
Gene Borkan Izzy
Joey Camen Freddie
Bob Morones Voice Only
Richard Moll Poet
Lynda Wiesmeier Voice Only

Technical Credits
Ralph Bakshi Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Lee Holdridge Score Composer
Ronni Kern Screenwriter
R&B Efx Cinematographer
David Ramirez Editor
Martin Ransohoff Producer
Richard St. Johns Executive Producer

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Scene Index

Side #1 -- American Pop
0. Scene Selections
1. Start [3:31]
2. Aneynu [2:01]
3. I Don't Care [2:24]
4. Maple Leaf Rag [4:06]
5. Smiles [2:16]
6. Over There [2:05]
7. Swamee [2:53]
8. Look for the Silver Lining [3:38]
9. Charleston [1:58]
10. Bill [2:18]
11. Sweet Georgia Brown [2:34]
12. Our Love Is Here to Stay [4:05]
13. Sing, Sing, Sing [2:04]
14. Lili Marlene [5:08]
15. Take Five [2:29]
16. Turn Me Loose [3:49]
17. You Send Me [3:27]
18. This Train [3:12]
19. California Dreamin' [5:51]
20. Somebody to Love [4:04]
21. People are Strange [1:36]
22. Up, Up and Away [1:52]
23. Purple Haze [3:29]
24. Summertime [4:33]
25. I'm Waiting for the Man [6:23]
26. Hell is for Children [5:06]
27. Night Moves [1:58]
28. Blue Suede Shoes [6:37]

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