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Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Runnin' Down a Dream (2007)

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"Runnin' Down A Dream," a film directed by cinema legend Peter Bogdanovich, is the story of one of America's great rock and roll bands told as never before.


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Title: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Runnin' Down a Dream (2007)

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Credited cast:
Ron Blair ...
Himself (voice)
Mike Campbell ...
Himself (archive footage)
George Drakoulias ...
Howie Epstein ...
Himself (archive footage)
Steve Ferrone ...
Stan Lynch ...
Himself (archive footage)


"Runnin' Down A Dream," a film directed by cinema legend Peter Bogdanovich, is the story of one of America's great rock and roll bands told as never before.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Documentary | Music





Release Date:

14 October 2007 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Untitled Tom Petty Documentary  »

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User Reviews

Everything a Heartbreakers fan could possibly wish for - 88%
10 January 2011 | by (Hampshire, England) – See all my reviews

Having been utterly converted by their 4-disc live compilation last Christmas, I have been steadily absorbing the music of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers ever since. When I got wind of this extensive and detailed documentary, I struggled to find the time to watch it - BBC 4's annoying scheduling coupled with a near-4 hour running time meant it was simply impossible, given my working hours. Thankfully, owning the DVD eliminates this problem so last night, I settled down with a glass of Scotch and enjoyed one of the very best music documentaries ever made.

Listeners in the UK would be forgiven for not recognising Tom Petty's name but the man has a huge back catalogue of genuine rock and roll genius, dating back to the early 70's when the Heartbreakers began to form from the ashes of Mudcrutch. The film, created to celebrate the band's 30th anniversary, offers a detailed analysis of all the departures, deaths and drugs you'd expect from most rock and roll stories but Petty has always done things his way. His legal battles with record companies and his solo work with the likes of George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and many others help to create a picture of a man leading a band that have made a career of fashioning quality tunes without ever managing to sell out, break up or (if we're honest) become cool.

The film, littered with electric performances throughout their career, certainly leaves few stones unturned in trying to identify the secrets of their success. Petty certainly comes across as a man driven by a desire to succeed, even if he runs the risk of alienating others in the band. Those who have stayed the course remain happy to let Petty have the limelight, not only providing musical support but actually enjoying performing on stage with him. Each set-back and tragedy is felt and at times, "Runnin' Down A Dream" becomes surprisingly evocative - I welled up during his performance of "Southern Accents", one of a number of hits that gets a fresh airing during the film. The footage of Petty playing with the Travelling Wilburys and Dylan on tour in Australia is just amazing, given Petty's journey to the top but it's also staggering how much of their career is covered on film. Early 8mm home video of them leaving Gainsville, Florida to drive to LA to sign a record deal, stopped by customs in Germany with a few "souvenirs" from Amsterdam, touring England when they first tasted success - all of it is here, as though Peter Bogdanovich himself was there. You imagine him in the back of the bus or lurking behind a bush, filming them undercover.

The film also doesn't lack celebrity credential as Dave Stewart, George Harrison, Johnny Depp, Dave Grohl, Rick Rubin and Stevie Nicks all help to contribute to what amounts to a glowing testament to the band. Due to its length, it does feel a bit dry in places - the few humorous stories and anecdotes help to maintain interest, besides the band's performances - but there is a sense of genuine love for the group and their music. For fans, this is simply an awesome documentary especially as if you get the boxed set containing the 30th anniversary concert and extra CD as well. For non-listeners, it's easy to be seduced by the power of their music and the personalities behind the tunes although you shouldn't expect too much in the way of dirt. Dissenting voices are still heard - those who left the band openly criticise some of Petty's decisions - but for most, this is an exhaustive, extensive and extremely good tribute to possibly the best rock band you've never heard of.

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