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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.

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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:

All those years...All those dreams...All those sons...One of them is going to be a star. See more »

Genres:

Animation | Drama | Music

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| | |

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

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

Connections

Edited from Applause (1929) See more »

Soundtracks

People Are Strange
Composed by John Densmore, Robby Krieger, Ray Manzarek and Jim Morrison
Performed by The Doors
Courtesy of Elektra/Asylum Records
See more »

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User Reviews

 
It's DEFINITELY different...
24 May 2004 | by (Mad City, Wisconsin) – See all my reviews

If nothing else, Ralph Bakshi is an innovator. He has been ever since he did the first X-rated cartoon, FRITZ THE CAT.

He's also been uneven in his work. He either does great things, like FRITZ, or he produces forgettable, total bombs like COOL WORLD.

Just the same tho, I've very much enjoyed his stuff over the years. My personal favorites are HEY GOOD LOOKIN' and AMERICAN POP.

AMERICAN POP is a daring concept; a feature length, multigenerational saga that tells the story of an immigrant family's American adventure.

When it works (and that's MOST of the time), it works WELL. Bakshi did his historical homework on this one, as well as the musical homework required in telling the story of a family of entertainers.

His characters achieve the goal that EVERY cartoonist tries for; on some level, we find ourselves identifying with those characters, and CARING about them... ALL of them, from the turn of the century song plugger on the streets of New York City, to the Heavy Metal rocker who finally achieves the American Dream.

In some places tho, Bakshi's attempts at innovation have a rather bizzare effect, and sometimes just plain DON'T WORK with his audiences, even for those who LOVE his work.

I'm thinking specifically of the somewhat startling attempt to use cartoon characters in a sexual situation. Somehow, the sight of a cartoon character opening his pants to expose jockey shorts prior to making love with ANOTHER cartoon character is jarring and unsettling in the extreme. It's not a matter of prudishness... it's just that the idea of realistically drawn cartoon characters having sex is a bit of a leap of imagination that many can't easily negotiate.

Another place that it doesn't quite work is during the sequence during the Vietnam years.

We've ALL seen the horrible news film clip of the police chief of Saigon personally executing a prisoner, shooting him in the head with his snub nosed revolver. Bakshi produced a very short cartoon version of that clip for the film. It's intention in the montage is clear and powerful, but somehow the idea of cartooning this horrendous act is even more deeply disturbing to the viewer than the ORIGINAL film was. It might have been MORE acceptable if Bakshi had used a Rotoscoped version of it that was LESS cartoonlike, as he did with other file footage used in the movie.

Just the same... overall, Bakshi's bold experimental film WORKS, and works well.

AMERICAN POP, despite it's faults, is a breakthru for the art of animation. It's a successfully mounted drama, done in animation. Disney came close sometimes, but Bakshi boldly went where Disney didn't dare to.

For anyone who loves animation, and anyone who loves music... AMERICAN POP gets MY vote.


14 of 19 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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