Rock Around the Clock (film)


Rock Around the Clock (film)

"Rock Around the Clock" is the title of a 1956 musical motion picture that featured Bill Haley and His Comets along with Alan Freed, The Platters, and Freddie Bell and the Bellboys. It was produced by b-movie king Sam Katzman (who would produce several Elvis Presley films in the 1960s) and directed by Fred F. Sears.

The film was shot over a short period of time in January 1956 to capitalize on Haley's success and the popularity of his multimillion-selling recording "Rock Around the Clock" which debuted in the 1955 teen flick "Blackboard Jungle", and is considered the first major rock and roll musical film.

"Rock Around the Clock" told a highly fictionalized rendition of how rock and roll was discovered, but moviegoers didn't care about the plotline; they wanted to hear the music. The film was blamed for inciting rowdy behavior in theaters across America and Great Britain, and was banned in some parts of the world. Queen Elizabeth II reportedly requested a special screening of the film; her reaction to it is not known.

Despite the movie being named after it, the song "Rock Around the Clock" - although heard three times during the picture - is never actually performed in its entirety on screen. At the end of the picture, the director decides to show the two dramatic leads having a conversation while Haley and the Comets are shown performing the song in the background, the music muted to allow dialogue. It has been suggested that the decision to have people talking over this climactic performance "Rock Around the Clock", a song people came to the film to hear, might have been a contributing factor in reported theater violence.

"Rock Around the Clock" was one of the major box office successes of 1956, and soon many more rock and roll musical films (notably the big-budget "A" picture "The Girl Can't Help It") would be produced and within a year, Elvis Presley (whose first film, 1956's "Love Me Tender", was a western, not a rock and roll movie) would soon appear in the most popular films of the genre, including "Jailhouse Rock" and "King Creole".

Later in 1956, Bill Haley and His Comets headlined a loose sequel, "Don't Knock the Rock", also directed by Sears and produced by Katzman. Rushed into production in order to capitalize on the success of "Rock Around the Clock", the sequel failed to duplicate the earlier film's success.

In 1961, Katzman produced the similarly titled, "Twist Around the Clock" starring Chubby Checker, which was very similar in basic plot to "Rock Around the Clock" and is often referred to as a remake of the Haley picture.

"Rock Around the Clock" is also the title of a 1987 Canadian documentary.

ongs performed in the movie

# "Rock Around the Clock" - Bill Haley and His Comets
# "See You Later Alligator" - Haley
# "Rock-a-Beatin' Boogie" - Haley
# "A.B.C. Boogie" - Haley - first verse only
# "Cuero (Skins)" - Tony Martinez and His Band
# "Mambo Capri" - Martinez
# "Solo Y Triste (Sad And Lonely)" - Martinez
# "Razzle-Dazzle" - Haley
# "Teach You to Rock" - Freddie Bell and the Bellboys
# "Bacalao Con Papa (Codfish And Potatoes)" - Martinez
# "Only You (And You Alone)" - The Platters
# "R-O-C-K" - Haley
# "Happy Baby" - Haley - first verse and chorus only
# "Mambo Rock" - Haley - chorus only
# "Giddy Up A Ding Dong" - Bell
# "The Great Pretender" - Platters
# "Rudy's Rock" - Haley

No soundtrack album was ever released for the film. The performance of "Rudy's Rock" is the only Haley song performed live on camera and while an off-air recording taken from the film would be released in Germany in the 1990s (as part of the Hydra Records Haley compilation album, "On Screen"), a proper studio-quality recording from the set has yet to be released. The band also performs live on camera during a brief rehearsal prior to lip-synching to the Decca recording of "R-O-C-K".

"Rock Around the Clock" is heard three times in the film - once over the opening credits, again in a brief rendition of the opening verse during a montage, and again at the end where only the last verse is heard.

A few months prior to shooting the film, the Comets had undergone a major change in personnel, with several members leaving the group. As a result, most of the songs lip-synched in the film actually feature a different line-up of musicians than those shown performing. The only songs on which all musicians shown on screen were also involved in the recording session are "See You Later Alligator" and "Rudy's Rock". During the performances of "Rock Around the Clock", Franny Beecher is shown playing the guitar for Danny Cedrone, who had originally been on the recording session, and who had died 18 months earlier. Cedrone's guitar work can also be heard on "ABC Boogie", the opening bars of which are performed off-camera.

Home video release

"Rock Around the Clock" was never released officially on VHS or laserdisc in North America. On January 23, 2007, Sony Pictures (current owners of the Columbia catalog) released the first Region 1 DVD edition of the film alongside "Don't Knock the Rock". [http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000KF0GRW]

External links

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