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Standing in the Shadows of Motown (2002)

PG  |   |  Documentary, Music  |  29 November 2002 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 2,843 users   Metascore: 76/100
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Documentary about the Funk Brothers, a group of Detroit musicians who backed up dozens of Motown artists.



(Narration), (Narration), 1 more credit »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard 'Pistol' Allen ...
Benny 'Papa Zita' Benjamin ...
Himself (archive footage)
Eddie 'Bongo' Brown ...
Himself (archive footage)
Johnny Griffith ...
James Jamerson ...
Himself (archive footage)
Uriel Jones ...
Gerald Levert ...


In 1959, Berry Gordy Jr. gathered the best musicians from Detroit's thriving jazz and blues scene to begin cutting songs for his new record company. Over a fourteen year period they were the heartbeat on every hit from Motown's Detroit era. By the end of their phenomenal run, this unheralded group of musicians had played on more number ones hits than the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones, Elvis and the Beatles combined - which makes them the greatest hit machine in the history of popular music. They called themselves the Funk Brothers. Forty-one years after they played their first note on a Motown record and three decades since they were all together, the Funk Brothers reunited back in Detroit to play their music and tell their unforgettable story, with the help of archival footage, still photos, narration, interviews, re-creation scenes, 20 Motown master tracks, and twelve new live performances of Motown classics with the Brothers backing up contemporary performers. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The best kept secret in the history of pop music. See more »


Documentary | Music

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for language and thematic elements | See all certifications »




Release Date:

29 November 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Standing in the Shadows of Motown: The Story of the Funk Brothers  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$114,442 (USA) (15 November 2002)


$1,600,547 (USA) (21 February 2003)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Montell JordanChaka Khan: [singing] Baby, there ain't no mountain high enough / Ain't no valley low enough / Ain't no river wide enough to keep me from getting to you.
See more »


Referenced in Film Geek (2005) See more »


You've Really Got a Hold On Me
by Smokey Robinson (as William Robinson Jr.)
Performed by Meshell Ndegeocello and The Funk Brothers
Me'Shell NdegéOcello appears courtesy of Maverick Recording Company
Used by permission of Jobete Music Co., Inc.
All Rights Reserved
See more »

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User Reviews

30 September 2002 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

This is a "must see" if you are at all interested in R&B, soul, Motown, etc. But it's really a must-see if you're a musician yourself.

Using archival footage interspersed with recent concert footage and anecdotal recreations, this film follows the careers of "The Funk Brothers" - the men who backed up a who's who of Motown's brightest stars from 1959 into the mid 1970's, and who have played on more #1 hits than the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, and Elvis COMBINED.

The movie will be in general distribution Nov. 15 (2002) - I saw it at the Vancouver International Film Festival, where the theater was packed (I'd guess at least half with musicians) - and the response was amazing - people were laughing, crying, shouting, singing along, and dancing in the seats (to paraphrase Martha and the Vandellas)

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

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