Standing in the Shadows of Motown (2002)

PG  |   |  Documentary, Music  |  29 November 2002 (USA)
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Documentary about the Funk Brothers, a group of Detroit musicians who backed up dozens of Motown artists.



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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 soul behind the sound. 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 »


Ball Of Confusion (That's What The World Is Today)
by Norman Whitfield (as Norman J. Whitfield) and Barrett Strong
Performed by The Temptations
Used by permission of Jobete Music Co., Inc.
All Rights Reserved
Courtesy of Motown Record Company, L.P.
under license from Universal Music Enterprises
See more »

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User Reviews

I enjoyed it
31 August 2003 | by (Washington DC) – See all my reviews

One thing that I always noticed in the traditional "Motown" music from the 60's is either the sound of the Tamborine or the Vibes. Little did I know it was the same guy on every album.

Unlike many "true story" documentaries this was a good story with a happy ending. Most times when we watch documentaries about celebrities we tend to see much of the bad and ugly moments from their past. Certianly nobody is perfect with a squeeky clean background, however, I appriciate the fact that the producer of this movie put more emphasis on the good things and the funny stories and less on the conflicts and the shortcommings.

All of the extra features give you a sense of who these people are with the extra unedited footage of the band interacting with one and other. The part about the guys that died before, during, and after production was especially touching because it brought closure to a situation with many loose ends. I feel that this story has a happy ending because those who are still living and those who passed on are satisfied that they were recognized for their contributions.

Personally I would have liked to see the concert in its entirety instead of a few clips in between the candid interviews but overall it was a very well balanced and well written story about a band that most people didnt even know existed. Even though most people didnt know about the band, we can all relate because we know the songs. As each musican shares his involvement with Motown I know and "feel" where they are comming from because I probably have listened to their music a hundered times over.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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