The Weavers: Wasn't That a Time!

Overview

This is a tribute film to the first folk music group to break through to a wider audience, the Weavers, formed in the late '40s by Pete Seeger, Lee Hays, Fred Hellerman, and Ronnie Gilbert. In 1950, the group made history with their recording of the Leadbelly song "Goodnight, Irene," which stayed on top of the pop charts for an astonishing 13 weeks. Two years later, the Weavers ran afoul of anti-communist politicians and activists dedicated to rooting out all entertainers with affiliations or associations with ...
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Overview

This is a tribute film to the first folk music group to break through to a wider audience, the Weavers, formed in the late '40s by Pete Seeger, Lee Hays, Fred Hellerman, and Ronnie Gilbert. In 1950, the group made history with their recording of the Leadbelly song "Goodnight, Irene," which stayed on top of the pop charts for an astonishing 13 weeks. Two years later, the Weavers ran afoul of anti-communist politicians and activists dedicated to rooting out all entertainers with affiliations or associations with that party. The Weavers were blacklisted for several years, then made a stunning comeback with a New Year's Eve 1955 concert at Carnegie Hall, which became their most popular recording. Seeger left the group in 1958 for a solo career, and the Weavers carried on with several lineups for another five years. For this film, the original quartet re-formed in 1981 and performed a final show at Carnegie Hall, with the ill Lee Hays in a wheelchair. He died before the film was released, and it's clear that, although Seeger went on to the greatest fame among the original members, Hays' spirit guided the group throughout its existence and fuels this film. Director Jim Brown mixes footage of the group in their heyday with reminiscences by the members as they prepare for their last waltz together.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Tom Wiener
The Weavers: Wasn't That a Time! is a celebration of America's premier folk group featuring a makeshift reunion that doesn't feel like one. Original member Lee Hays was clearly not in good health when this film was shot, and it could be argued that rejoining fellow travelers Pete Seeger, Ronnie Gilbert, and Fred Hellerman on-stage was an event created to justify this film. It doesn't make much difference, because the quartet prove, in excerpts from that 1981 concert, that time hasn't diminished their rapport, either musically or personally. The Weavers' importance can't be underestimated; they brought traditional folk music to the masses and paved the way for the folk boom of the 1950s and its offshoots in other genres of popular music. As unabashed political activists whose careers were rudely interrupted by the McCarthy era witch hunts, they also offered a shining example of the artist as activist for generations of musicians to follow. All of this is evident in this unapologetic valentine to the group.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 6/16/1992
  • UPC: 075993830439
  • Original Release: 1982
  • Rating:

  • Source: WARNER BROS / WEA
  • Format: VHS

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Pete Seeger
Ronnie Gilbert
Lee Hays , Voice Only
Arlo Guthrie
Fred Hellerman
Don Mc Lean
Holly Near
Harry Reasoner
Studs Terkel Participant
Mary Travers
Weavers
Technical Credits
Jim Brown Director, Cinematographer
Paul Barnes Editor
Lee Hays Screenwriter
Tom Hurwitz Cinematographer
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2002

    Full of Joy!

    I saw this in the theater 20 years ago. By the end of the movie, the audience was singing along. Their voices aren't what they were in their youth, but their spirits are still strong.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2000

    This is a great film.

    I had never heard of The Weavers prior to seeing this film. Four wonderful people in a wonderful documentary. This is a must-see film.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews