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Great Balls of Fire! (1989)

PG-13 | | Biography, Drama, Music | 30 June 1989 (USA)
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The life and career of wildly controversial rock 'n' roll star Jerry Lee Lewis.

Director:

Jim McBride

Writers:

Myra Lewis (book), Murray Silver Jr. (book) (as Murray Silver) | 2 more credits »
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Dennis Quaid ... Jerry Lee Lewis
Winona Ryder ... Myra Gale Brown
John Doe ... J.W. Brown
Stephen Tobolowsky ... Jud Phillips
Trey Wilson ... Sam Phillips
Alec Baldwin ... Jimmy Swaggart
Steve Allen ... Himself
Lisa Blount ... Lois Brown
Joshua Sheffield Joshua Sheffield ... Rusty Brown
Mojo Nixon Mojo Nixon ... James Van Eaton
Jimmie Vaughan ... Roland Janes
David Ferguson David Ferguson ... Jack Clement
Robert Lesser ... Alan Freed
Lisa Jane Persky ... Babe
Paula Person Paula Person ... Sam's Secratary
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Storyline

The story of Jerry Lee Lewis, arguably the greatest and certainly one of the wildest musicians of the 1950s. His arrogance, remarkable talent, and unconventional lifestyle often brought him into conflict with others in the industry, and even earned him the scorn and condemnation of the public. In 1956, Louisiana bad boy Jerry Lee Lewis moves to Memphis, determined to dethrone Elvis Presley with his ferocious, God-given talent. When Jerry Lee bangs out the chorus with his feet, huge fans howl out for more. When he finishes his performance by setting his piano ablaze, they mob the stage. But when he marries his 13-year-old cousin Myra Gale Brown...the scandal nearly destroys the Killer's career. Written by Murray Chapman <muzzle@cs.uq.oz.au>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The true story of a legend. See more »

Genres:

Biography | Drama | Music

Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

30 June 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Great Balls of Fire! See more »

Filming Locations:

Somerville, Tennessee, USA See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,807,986, 2 July 1989

Gross USA:

$13,741,060

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$13,741,060
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Orion Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR | Dolby Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

Dennis Quaid did some of his own piano playing. Pianist and singer Jason D. Williams, often compared to Jerry Lee Lewis in looks and musical performance, also served as Quaid's piano double. The filmmakers used Williams' hands for the piano parts in the film. Williams also found himself teaching Dennis Quaid how to play a few parts, which Quaid quickly picked up. At the time of filming, Quaid had played the guitar for twenty years, but had only played the piano for two years. See more »

Goofs

During the concert scene with the hot blonde fan in the white fringe top, she throws down her old cigarette when she starts to dance, but a moment later, she's magically holding a new freshly lit smoke. See more »

Quotes

Myra Gale Brown: All I ever wanted was a little pink house with a blue door... a little baby sittin' in a high chair.
See more »

Connections

Spoofed in Muppets Tonight: Dennis Quaid (1997) See more »

Soundtracks

Lover
Written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart
Performed by Les Paul and Mary Ford
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Immensely Entertaining & The Music Is Great
3 September 2001 | by sddavis63See all my reviews

An excellent job by director Jim McBride of putting Myra Lewis's book about the life of legendary rock and roll star Jerry Lee Lewis (her husband) on film.

Dennis Quaid gives an over the top performance (sometimes a bit too over the top; but, then again, this is Jerry Lee Lewis) as Lewis, arrogant and child-like, trying to deal with sudden fame, having to deal with the consequences of having married his thirteen year old cousin (Myra, who authored the book). Quaid was truly excellent in this role. Yes, the lip-synching was perhaps a bit too obvious at times, but for the sake of hearing some great music performed by the real Jerry Lee Lewis, that was an irritant I could easily put up with. The relationship between Lewis and Myra (Winona Ryder) is developed sensitively and tastefully by McBride. Humour is added by exploring the complex love-hate relationship between Lewis and his cousin, the evangelist Jimmy Swaggart (Alec Baldwin). There is also great irony, given what ultimately happened to Swaggart, as we listen to him lecturing Lewis about the dangers of taking the "gold-paved streets of rock and roll."

I really enjoyed this movie. Perhaps it was guilty of portraying everyone in it as a bit of a caricature, but it still seemed to offer an entirely believable story of Lewis's life. Well worth the watching.

9/10


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