7.8/10
1,249
26 user 20 critic

Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll (1987)

This documentary movie covers two concerts at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis, Missouri, to celebrate Chuck Berry's 60th birthday, and also discusses his life and career.

Director:

Taylor Hackford
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1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Chuck Berry ... Self
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ingrid Berry Ingrid Berry ... Self
Eric Clapton ... Self
Robert Cray ... Self
Bo Diddley ... Self
Ahmet Ertegun ... Self - DVD only
Don Everly ... Self
Phil Everly ... Self
Etta James ... Self
Johnnie Johnson Johnnie Johnson ... Self
Steve Jordan ... Self
Bobby Keys Bobby Keys ... Self
Chuck Leavell Chuck Leavell ... Self
John Lennon ... Self (archive footage)
Julian Lennon ... Self
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Storyline

St. Louis, Missouri. For Chuck Berry's 60th birthday, Keith Richards assembles a pickup band of Robert Cray, Joey Spampinato, Eric Clapton, himself, and longtime pianist Johnnie Johnson. Joined on stage by Etta James, Linda Ronstadt and Julian Lennon, Berry performs his classic rock songs. His abilities as a composer, lyricist, singer, musician and entertainer are on display and, in behind-the-scenes interviews, are discussed by Bo Diddley, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, the Everly Brothers, Bruce Springsteen and others. There's even a rarity for Berry, a rehearsal. Archival footage from the early 1950s and a duet with John Lennon round out this portrait of a master. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Whole World Knows the Music. Nobody Knows the Man.


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce voted to give Chuck Berry a star on the Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame a couple of years before this film was made. The star was never dedicated because nobody was willing to step forward to pay for it. In order to help promote the film, Universal Pictures paid for the star and it was dedicated the same week the film was released. See more »

Quotes

Chuck Berry: They say "That's a Chuck Berry song because it's Ba-du-ba-dada
[scat-sings a riff]
Chuck Berry: ." Well, the first time I heard in that was in one of Carl Hogan's riffs in Louis Jordan's band. We have T-Bone Walker, I love T-Bone Walker's slurs and his blueses; so put a little Carl Hogan, a little T-Bone Walker and a little Charlie Christian, the guitarist in Tommy Dorsey's band, together: look what a span of people that you will please. And that's what I did in Johnny B. Goode, Roll Over Beethoven - And ...
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Connections

Featured in Keith Richards: Under the Influence (2015) See more »

User Reviews

 
One of the greatest documentaries ever.
25 November 2006 | by davereeseSee all my reviews

I just happened to catch this for the third or fourth time, and first time with my wife, on Universal HD today. Taylor Hackford does a phenomenal job in this movie. Chuck Berry, one of the most complicated and conflicted figures in the history of rock and pop music is rich territory and Hackford managed to catch Berry in all of his many guises - charming, professional, intelligent, thoughtful, bitter, petulant, unprofessional, difficult, and combative. What really marks this movie as a superior documentary is Hackford refusal to judge Berry to focus on just documenting the man and his behavior in a variety of situations and from a variety of sources. There really is no ax-grinding going on in this movie and there is no whitewashing - everything is what it is whether it's Berry in a touching scene with his mother and father or it's Berry in a petulant rehearsal stare-down with Keith Richards when Berry isn't getting his way.

Hackford's other great achievement in this movie is the excellent recording of Berry's 60th Anniversary Concert, the predominate reason for the whole project and the involvement of other pop/rock music notables, at St. Louis' Fox Theatre. Backed by Keith Richards, Johnnie Johnson (Berry's pianist and forgotten early influence), Steve Jordan, Bobby Keys, Robert Cray, and Joey Spaminato, Berry performs what is probably his best show in 30 years. Hackford catches the performer's excitement, the crowd's excitement, and Berry's energy and showmanship in a way those of us too young to have seen or heard Berry can begin to understand why he serves a such a seminal influence in pop and rock music.

The movie is full of entertaining nuggets. Hackford's interviews with Keith Richards are fascinating. Richards' comments are just insightful about Berry, the influence of Berry's music, and the influence of Johnson of Berry's songs; they're also fascinating in just watching and listening to Richards himself - part mystic, part philosopher, part drunk. Also particularly interesting is a three-way conversation between Berry, Little Richard, and Bo Diddly who go into great detail about their early careers, music, business, and how racism negatively affected their careers and their recognition as the earliest purveyors of rock and roll.

I think this movie is interesting regardless of whether your actually interested in Berry beforehand or not. It is as fine a documentary that any director could produce and you should watch this movie whenever the chance presents itself.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

9 October 1987 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll See more »

Filming Locations:

East St. Louis, Illinois, USA See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$156,597, 11 October 1987

Gross USA:

$719,323

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$719,323
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Company Credits

Production Co:

Delilah Films See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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