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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.

Director:

Ralph Bakshi

Writer:

Ronni Kern

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ron Thompson ... Tony / Pete
Mews Small ... Frankie (as Marya Small)
Jerry Holland Jerry Holland ... Louie
Lisa Jane Persky ... Bella
Jeffrey Lippa Jeffrey Lippa ... Zalmie
Roz Kelly ... Eva Tanguay
Frank DeKova ... Crisco (as Frank De Kova)
Rick Singer Rick Singer ... Benny (as Richard Singer)
Elsa Raven ... Hannele
Ben Frommer Ben Frommer ... Palumbo
Amy Levitt ... Nancy
Leonard Stone ... Leo Stern
Eric Taslitz Eric Taslitz ... Little Pete
Gene Borkan Gene Borkan ... Izzy
Richard Moll ... 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:

Zalmie should have been a star, but there were complications. Benny could have been famous, but life got in the way. Tony had a brush with success, but had to let it go. So it was up to Pete to grab it, hold it, and make himself heard. See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Hebrew | Russian | Yiddish

Release Date:

13 February 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Amerykanska muzyka pop See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$6,000,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Ralph Bakshi: as the voice of the piano player who tells a pregnant Bella that her song "is going to be a big hit. I think you should try it out." See more »

Goofs

As the film traces the history of pop music in America during the 20th century, all music featured is from US musicians/artists... except the Sex Pistols, who are a UK band. See more »

Quotes

Palumbo: Don't you think it's time for a wedding?
Zalmie: How can I ask her? I don't have a cent.
Palumbo: You should have thought of that before you got her pregnant.
Zalmie: Who thinks at a time like that?
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 »

Alternate Versions

In some versions of the film, dialog has been redone in at last two scenes, presumably to make points more clear. For example, in Little Pete's first scene, he is asked what his Dad would say about him hanging backstage with a rock band. In one version, Pete says "Nothing. He's dead." In the other version, he instead says "I never met my Dad. He's some kind of mystery" (which serves as a better setup for information learned later) Also, Tony returns to the band's apartment after his release from the hospital, only to find they have moved out. In both versions, under 'People Are Strange,' we hear him on the phone with a friend, but the phone conversations begin completely differently. In one we never learn what happened to the band, only that they seemed to have moved out and left Tony behind, while in the other we learn that the band has gone on to big things, with a gold album. Both versions' phone calls end the same way, though, with Tony desperately asking his friend for money or drugs. See more »

Connections

References I Love Lucy (1951) See more »

Soundtracks

As Time Goes By
Composed by Herman Hupfeld
See more »

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User Reviews

At-times-corny-hodgepodge, yet quirky, offbeat, and strangely touching
16 May 1999 | by mercer74See all my reviews

I won't go so far as to call this movie a masterpiece, but I do have a special weakness for Ralph Bakshi for some reason, and I enjoyed this film despite the awkward non-uniform animation (involving heavy use of rotoscoping), the corniness of some moments, and the bizarre contexts into which some popular songs are placed (e.g. a Bob Dylan song being composed by some fictional character on a bus, and - as another reviewer commented - a Bob Seger song somehow being considered punk).

Nevertheless, there are several things I enjoyed about "American Pop". Rather than a single individual, the "protagonist" is a "familial line"; one could even say the protagonist of this movie is a "creative spark" that passes from father to son. It was interesting how we were shown that the same creative spark which expresses itself through popular music is intimately intertwined with the sexual urge - and hence the urge to "keep the spark alive" by passing it to the next generation.

It's also very interesting to see a movie about popular music as a whole throughout the twentieth century, as opposed to being confined to one particular decade. In fact, on one level, "American Pop" is simply an entertaining history of twentieth century popular music, a history which is embellished by the presence of four characters which represent different points in that century insofar as they "could have written" the songs of their particular time.

Finally, one of my favourite aspects of "American Pop" is alluded to by the second word of the title: "Pop". "Pop" is, of course, short for "popular", and in this film we see that these characters' choice to express themselves via the medium of popular music (rather than, say, classical music or classical painting) is very closely wound up with the fact that these are all quite down-to-earth, everyday types of people who sometimes experience the grittier side of life.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I would have to give "American Pop" either a 7 or an 8.


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