Almost Famous - Cameron Crowe (2000)

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An autobiographical movie by Cameron Crowe, Oscar Award 2001 for the best original screenplay, about the real experience of the director when he followed, as a (very young) music journalist, the US tour of the British group Led Zeppelin, in 1973, a period particularly rich for the rock music.

 

     

Plot / Characters and interpreters / Soundtrack / Images from the movie / Soundtrack on CD / Script

The Plot

 

In the real life Cameron Crowe was in tour with the future champions of the hard rock scene, with a contract by the famous music magazine Rolling Stones while he was still a teenager (probably they did not realize that, the agreement was concluded by phone). They were at that time almost famous in Europe but at the beginning in US.

In the movie the band is substituted by an imaginary the Stillwater, a rock FM band with this name existed in US, but it's probably a coincidence. The imaginary group gives the opportunity to insert typical characters, as the modest front-man, the more talented lead guitar, the manager that followed the group since the very beginning, but now inadequate for the great step and so on.

The other element on which the the movie is based is the groupie's world. These girls following the stars, or pretended stars, living short love stories only to live for a while in their world. One the groupies is Penny Lane (Kate Hudson, daughter of the actress Goldie Hawn and wife of a rock musician, Robinson of the Black Crowes) and William is deeply fascinated by her mix of melancholy and variable moods. A very good performance by Hudson and a nomination for the Oscar Award.

A good reconstruction of that years and that period, probably easier since this period apparently is still here, in the fashion and moreover in the music: basic rock-blues proposed in the nineties and in the following decade by the Black Crowes, o dai Bush, o dai Gathering, or by the White Stripes or by The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and many others, including the original protagonists, as Neil Young or Jimmy Page.

 
 Characters and Interprters
 

Interpreter

Character

Notes

Billy Crudup

  Russell Hammond

Lead guitar and real leader of the group, during the tour he becomes a good friend for the young journalist William.

Frances McDormand

  Elaine Miller

William's mother, professor at California University, anxious to guide the young William to a correct life, after the fault with the other son, her daughter Anita. A good characterization by the famous American actress, already Oscar winner.

Kate Hudson

  Penny Lane

The group of the groupies has a name, that is, the "band-aid" (with the several meanings that can be read, including the benefit band of Bob Geldolf in 1984). The group leader of the band-aid is undoubtedly Penny Lane (other citation), the character very well interpreted by Kate Hudson.

Patrick Fugit

  William Miller

The main character, 15-years-old and applicant musical journalist. The actor, Patrick Fugit, at his debut in the cinema, was selected between many other young actors.

Jason Lee (I)

  Jeff Bebe

The voice of the Stillwater group and pretended (but not actual) leader.

Philip Seymour Hoffman

  Lester Bangs

The famous rock journalist that gives free lesson of ant conventionality to the young William (as to the real Crowe). A real figure between the fiction ones, the journalist Lester Bangs died in 1982.

Fairuza Balk

  Saphire Loveson

Russel's wife.

Noah Taylor

  Dick Roswell

The manager of the Stillwater band.

Anna Paquin

  Polexia Aphrodisia

Another member of the band-aid group, the brunette one. She has an important role in William's life, she helps him to discover something very important in the life.

Jimmy Fallon

  Dennis Hope

Stillwater's new manager.

Zooey Deschanel

  Anita Miller

William's sister. Definitely intolerant about her mother's life lessons, she leaves the family home at 18 years and one day. But she left to William a precious gift: her collections of rock vinyl records.

Michael Angarano

  William Miller

William as a child.

John Fedevich

  Ed Vallencourt

The drummer.

Mark Kozelek

  Larry Fellows

The bass player.

 
 Immagini dal film
   

A little selection of images captured directly from the Cameron Crowe's film, in order to help the memory and to remember the characters. The film on DVD is easily available, for a comfortable search it can be used the Amazon UK link on the right.

 
William Penny Lane Russell
Lester Penny Lane Jeff

Sul pullman All together William at work with Russell
... Pretty eyed, pirate smile, you'll marry a music man Ballerina,
you must have seen her dancing in the sand And now she's in me, always with me, tiny dancer in my hand...
William and Polexia Russell at the dinner, ending the tour Penny Lane at the same event, before ...
 

Soundtrack

 

The soundtrack was organized by the rock composer Nancy Wilson, previously leader of the femal rock group Heart. Of course the soundtrack is mainly based on musical pieces of the seventies. More than 50 songs and musics were utilized in the film, the complete list is available below. Of course, only a selection of this list is included in the CD issued with the movie's soundtrack. Also the CD list is available in the followings.

The selection includes many rock champions of the seventies, of course the Led Zeppelin, their forerunners, the Deep Purple and the Who, together with Simon & Garfunkel and Neil Young, up to Jimi Hendrix and the heavy metal first popular band the Black Sabbath, but even a progressive band as the Yes is present.

The southern rock is widely mentioned, with the Allman Brothers, the Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Little Feat, together with alternative and soul champions as Joni Mitchell or Stevie Wonder. In evidence the pop star Elton John: two famous songs of the British composer are used in two key moments of the film (Tiny Dancer and Mona Lisa).

To be mentioned also a not so widely known song of the British group Thunderclap Newman, an almost revolutionary piece called Something In The Air (something that is ... the revolution) from the album Hollywood Dream (1969, produced by Pete Townshend of the Who) covered many times and used also in other movies, as for example The Strawberry Statement of Stuart Hagman (1970), to give the flavor of the era.

For the imaginary band, The Stillwater, were instead composed new pieces, but perfectly aligned to the seventies style, between them the main theme of the movie, Fever Dog.

 

Interprete

Canzone

Momento

Simon and Garfunkel

America

Williams' sister is leaving home the day after her 18th birthday. The music in the background is America, she says that song explains why she's leaving:
ANITA: "I want to play you a song that explains why I'm leaving, and try to listen."
ELAINE: "We can't talk? We have to listen to rock music?"

The Who

Sparks

William takes from below his bed the LP's of Anita. Between them all the classics of the period, from Pet Sounds of the  Beach Boys, to Get Yer Ya Yas Out by The Stones,  Led Zeppelin (II), Blue by Joni Mitchell, Blonde on Blonde by Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, The Cream, and, lastly, inside the double cover of Tommy by the Who, a note by his sister: "Listen to Tommy with a candle burning and you will see your entire future...". The heady effect of all these albums registers, as we see him lighting a candle, and probably, viewing his future.

Todd Rundgren

It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference

 

Yes

I've Seen All Good People: Your Move

 

The Beach Boys

Feel Flows

 

Jethro Tull

Teacher

The music in background during the obstinate attempt of William to enter as a journalist in the concert. The announced group, strange contradiction, are the Black Sabbath.
"I'm William Miller and I'm here
from Creem Magazine to interview the
band Black Sabbath.
"

Stillwater

Fever Dog

The first piece that can be heard by The Stillwater, special guests during the US tour of the already famous Black Sabbath.

Rod Stewart

Every Picture Tells A Story

William arrives at his first hotel of his first tour as "embedded" music journalist. A lot of young fans try to gather autographs from the music stars inside.

The Seeds

Farmer

 

The Allman Borthers Band

One Way Out

William is for the first time on the road, on the bus tour of the group.

Lynyrd Skynyrd

Simple Man

 

Joni Mitchell

River

In the background during the first encounter between William and Penny Lane.

Thunderclap Newman

Something In The Air

In the background during the second night, played on guitar by Russell and other musicians.

Led Zeppelin

That's The Way

 

Stillwater

Love Comes And Go

The first real successfully concert for The Stillwater, a great performance by Russell. After the concert Russell, completely drunk, plunges into a pool during a party.
The concert was longer in the first cut, then it was reduced.

Elton John

Tiny Dancer

Listened to the radio and sung by all together in the coach, the day after the party and the mess, the harmony between is coming back while the tour bus continues its travel.

Nancy Wilson

Lucky Trumble

Another main theme for the movie.

David Bowie

I'm Waiting For The Man

During the arrival at an important hotel, the pop star David Bowie enters and the fans follow him instead of the "almost famous" Stillwater.

Cat Stevens

The Wind

Penny Lane all alone try some dance steps after another successfully concert by the group.

Clarence Carter

Slip Away

 

Elton John

Mona Lisa's and Mad Hatters

Another key moment. The last date in New York, Penny Lane is abandoned, practically rented to another group, Russell's wife is back and the short story between Russell and Penny must be closed. William has a intuition about Penny and runs to find her ...

Led Zeppelin

Tangerine

 

Iggy Pop

Search and Destroy

 

Black Sabbath

Sweet Leaf

 

Eric Carmen & The Raspberries

Go All the Way

 

Led Zeppelin

Misty Mountain Hop

 

The Chipmunks

The Chipmunk Song

The main titles theme. "A close-shot of a yellow legal tablet. A young hand comes into frame, holding a pencil. For a few moments, we hear onlythe soft scratching of pencil on paper, as credits are written in a series of dissolves. The hand carefully erases and corrects an error or two along the way. And then the sound of an old friend... the warm crackle of a vinyl record... as we now hear Alvin and the Chipmunks' "Christmas Song." (from the screenplay)

Yes

Roundabout

During the attempt of William to enter the arena and to attend to his first concert (Black Sabbath and Stillwater as special guests) as credited journalist, with the help of Penny lane. Before the concert the song of the British groups is broadcasted in the arena.

Led Zeppelin

Bron-yr-aur

 

Pete Droge

Small Time Blues

 

Stillwater

Hour of Need

 

Black Sabbath

Paranoid

During the concert.

Led Zeppelin

The Rain Song

 

Neil Young

Everbody Knows This Is Nowhere

Broadcasted by KMET Radio Station (active since 1969, nicknamed "The Mighty Met," was the pioneering station of the "underground" progressive rock format) after the first concert, in the car with William and Penny inside. In the screenplay is mentioned another Neil Young's song: Cinnamon Girl.

Fleetwood Mac

Future Games

 

Guess Who

Albert Flasher

Mentioned by Lester Bangs during his lessons to William at San Diego Radio Station.

Stillwater

Love Thing

During the concert.

Deep Purple

Burn

 

Stillwater

You Had to be There

During the concert (medley).

Steely Dan

Reeling in the Years

 

Bloodwyn Pig

Dear Jill

 

Jimi Hendrix

Voodoo Child

 

Clarence Carter

Slip away

 

Free

Wishing Well

 

Stevie Wonder

My Cherie Amour

While the doctor and the nurse are helping Penny Lane in her room and William watch them working.

MC5

Looking at you

In background during the phone call between William and Lester, William is asking hints to Lester after his first interviews.

Neil Young

Cortez the Killer

 

Brenton Wood

The Oogum Boogum Song

 

Little Feat

Easy to slip

 

Buddy Holly

Peggy Sue

After the turbulence in the band airplane. Russell sings the song trying to take heat out of the situation.

Chicago

Colour My World

The song in the background during the final titles and credits, with the Polaroid photos taken by Penny Lane.

 
 Soundtrack CD
 

Rod Stewart

Every Picture Tells A Story

Led Zeppelin

Tangerine

Led Zeppelin

That's The Way

Neil Young

Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere

Neil Young

Cortez The Killer

David Bowie

Waiting For The Man

Led Zeppelin

Misty Mountain Hop

Allman Brothers Band

One Way Out

Clarence Carter

Slip Away

Elton John

Tiny Dancer

cast (Thunderclap Newman)

Something In The Air

Simon & Garfunkel

America

The Who

Sparks

Stillwater

Fever Dog

Led Zeppelin

The Rain Song

Led Zeppelin

Bron-Y-Aur

Little Feat

Easy to Slip

Beach Boys

Feel Flows

Joni Mitchell

River

Elton John

Mona Lisa and Mad Hatters

Yes

Roundabout

 Yes

I've Seen All Good People

 Brenton Wood

The Oogum Boogum Song

 
 Script
 

It is possible to read the complete movie's script here. If no more available, contact us.

 

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Alberto Truffi 2009 - Music Graffiti

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