Al Pacino is Danny Collins, an aging 70s rocker Danny Collins who can’t give up his hard-living ways in the film of the same name that’s just premiered. The story? Danny’s manager (Christopher Plummer) uncovers a 40-year-old undelivered letter written to Danny by John Lennon, so he decides to change course and embark on a journey to rediscover his family and begin a second act. An impressive cast here, including Annette Bening, Bobby Cannavale, and Jennifer Garner. Take a look:
Danny Collins is the latest in a long, long line of movies about modern musicians, where the music itself takes a back seat to the biography. You can go all the way back to Danny Kaye as “Red” Nichols in The Five Pennies, way back in 1959, and follow the bouncing ball through the films below:
Get On Up (2014): A chronicle of James Brown’s rise from extreme poverty to become one of the most influential musicians in history.
Crazy Heart (2009): A faded country music musician is forced to reassess his dysfunctional life during a doomed romance that also inspires him.
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007): Singer Dewey Cox overcomes adversity to become a musical legend. (Okay, he wasn’t real, but he should have been!)
Walk the Line (2005): A chronicle of country music legend Johnny Cash’s life, from his early days on an Arkansas cotton farm to his rise to fame with Sun Records in Memphis, where he recorded alongside Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins.
Ray (2004): The story of the life and career of the legendary rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles, from his humble beginnings in the South, where he went blind at age seven, to his meteoric rise to stardom during the 1950s and 1960s.
Selena (1997): The true story of Selena Quintanilla-Perez, a Texas born Tejano singer who rose to cult status to performing at the Astrodome, and having chart topping albums on the Latin music charts.
That Thing You Do! (1996): A Pennsylvania band scores a hit in 1964 and rides the star-making machinery as long as it can, with lots of help from its manager. (Another mythical band that was more real than most of its ‘real’ counterparts.)
La Bamba (1987): Biographical story of the rise from nowhere of early rock and roll singer Ritchie Valens who died at age 17 in a plane crash with Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper.
This is Spinal Tap (1984): The first, the best mockumentary about the best heavy metal (and pop and glitter and moptop) band there ever wasn’t: Spinal Tap, England’s loudest band, on what proves to be its final, fateful tour.
The Buddy Holly Story (1978): The story of the life and career of the early, amazing rock-and-roll singer, from his meteoric rise to stardom to his marriage and untimely death, featuring an equally amazing performance by Gary Busey at his vey best.
…not to mention at least half a dozen films about Elvis Presley, from the sublime–Kurt Russell in Elvis (1979)–to the wonderfully ridiculous Bubba Ho-Tep (2002), with Bruce Campbell as a senior-citizen Presley fighting mummies in a Louisiana retirement home. Apparently, The King will never die…