7.2/10
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American Pop (1981)

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.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Tony / Pete
...
Frankie (as Marya Small)
Jerry Holland ...
Louie
...
Bella
Jeffrey Lippa ...
Zalmie
Roz Kelly ...
Eva Tanguay
...
Crisco (as Frank De Kova)
Rick Singer ...
Benny (as Richard Singer)
Elsa Raven ...
Hannele
Ben Frommer ...
Palumbo
...
Nancy
...
Leo Stern
Eric Taslitz ...
Little Pete
Gene Borkan ...
Izzy
...
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 »

Genres:

Animation | Drama | Music

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

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| | |

Release Date:

13 February 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Amerykanska muzyka pop  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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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 Tony meets the waitress in Kansas, he asks her a number of questions which are references to songs about the state. He asks her, "Is everything up to date here?" which references Rodgers and Hammerstein's song "Kansas City" from the musical "Oklahoma!" However, that song actually concerns the Kansas City in Missouri, as another song from that show indicates. See more »

Quotes

[Tony has injured himself and lies in bed wearing casts around his neck, leg, and arm]
Man: How do you feel?
Tony: Like a fuckin' M&M: dig my thin candy shell.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Disclaimer before soundtrack listings: The following songs were depicted as being written by fictional characters. The producer would like to thank the true composers. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Book of Eli (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall
Written by Bob Dylan
Composed by Bob Dylan
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User Reviews

 
Good. Especially if you're a music geek, like me.
23 November 2003 | by (Ontario) – See 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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