- Almost Famous
name = Almost Famous
caption = Theatrical release poster
Cameron Crowe Lisa Stewart
Patrick Fugit Billy Crudup Kate Hudson Frances McDormand
Philip Seymour Hoffman Zooey Deschanel
Joe Hutshing Saar Klein
September 13, 2000
runtime = Theatrical cut
country = flagicon|USA
language = English
gross = $47,383,689
website = http://www.cameroncrowe.com/eyes_ears/films/almostfamous/almostfamous_overview.html
amg_id = 1:212038
imdb_id = 0181875
"Almost Famous" is a 2000
comedy-drama filmwritten and directed by Cameron Crowe, writer and director of " Jerry Maguire". It tells a fictional story of a teenage journalist writing for " Creem" and " Rolling Stone" magazines while covering the rock band Stillwater, and his efforts to get his first cover story published. The film is semi-autobiographical, as Crowe himself was a teenage writer for "Rolling Stone".
Despite receiving good reviews, the film was a
box office bomb. It received four Oscar nominations, one of which led to an award to Crowe for his screenplay. It was also awarded the 2001 Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media. Roger Eberthailed it as the best movie of the year.
The film is based on Crowe's experiences touring with rock bands
The Allman Brothers Band, Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. In a "Rolling Stone" article, he talks about how he lost his virginity, fell in love, and met his heroes, experiences that are shared by William, the main character in the film.
In 1973, William Miller (
Patrick Fugit) is a teenager aspiring to be a rock-and-roll journalist, despite the desires of his eccentric, overprotective mother, Elaine ( Frances McDormand), who wants him to go into law. Shunned by his classmates (most of whom are two or three years older than he is), he writes for underground papers in his hometown, San Diego.
He goes one morning to watch as a local radio station interviews pioneering rock journalist
Lester Bangs( Philip Seymour Hoffman). The two hit it off, and Bangs gives William a $35 assignment to write up a Black Sabbathconcert. William, without credentials or a ticket, cannot get into the arena. He meets up with some "Band-Aides," semi-groupies ( Bijou Phillips, Anna Paquin, Fairuza Balk) who draw the line at intercourse with rock stars (everything else is fair game) and their leader, Penny Lane ( Kate Hudson). Then he runs into the opening band on the card, Stillwater, who first dismiss him as a journalist, but when he calls them by their names and praises their most recent work in detail, they realize that he is a genuine fan and allow him backstage.
A week or so later, he goes with Penny (deceiving his mother) to the "
Riot House" – the Hyatt Hotel on Sunset Boulevard. He first meets Vic Munoz ( Jay Baruchel), an extreme Led Zeppelinfan with a bad stutter, who follows them all over the country, and they are soon in a room with Stillwater. Penny goes off with the band's "guitarist with mystique", Russell Hammond ( Billy Crudup), to a vending room, where they have sex. William is beginning to appear jealous.
William is called by
Ben Fong-Torres( Terry Chen), editor of " Rolling Stone". They have read his material and want him to do a story. However, Ben is under the impression that William is several years older than he really is. William does nothing to disillusion Ben and accepts an assignment to follow Stillwater on the road to write an article.
Elaine consents, under strict conditions (which, to her chagrin, will be repeatedly violated). Penny and other Band-Aides will be riding the bus as well. William tries to get interviews with each band member, but his attempts to interview Russell are repeatedly frustrated. The young journalist witnesses Russell receive a severe electric shock on stage in Phoenix. A new band T-shirt showing the band (with all members but Russell out of focus) sparks a bitter argument between lead singer Jeff (Jason Lee) and Russell, with Jeff angry that what was once "The Jeff Bebe Band" is now dominated by Russell. In reaction, Russell and William go off to a teenage house party where the musician has too much acid. William calls for the band bus to come by the house, and Russell is persuaded to get on the bus. It is made clear that, however much they might argue, the band is a family.
Both Penny and Russell know that Penny must leave the tour before New York, where Leslie, Russell's wife, will be joining the tour. During a poker game, he allows the manager to put up the groupies as a stake in a poker game. The band leases the groupies to the band
Humble Piefor $50 and a case of Heinekenbeer. When William tells Penny about this, she acts nonchalant but is devastated.
Penny goes to New York on her own anyway, and, as the band celebrates in a restaurant together with Russell's wife, Penny shows up in the background. Band manager Dick Roswell (
Noah Taylor) asks her to leave. William goes to Penny's room and finds her overdosed on Methaqualone. While trying to wake her up, he tells her he loves her. William has called a doctor, who comes and pumps her stomach. She confides in William the next day, even telling him her real name – a secret even Russell doesn't know.
On a plane ride to another concert the band's plane is caught in poor weather and looks like it will have to make a crash landing. Believing they will all die, the band members and entourage start confessing their secrets. When Jeff and Russell start arguing, and Penny is referred to as "that fucking groupie", William, to the surprise of all, defends Penny and speaks his anger that the band used her, declaring his own love for her. The plane lands safely, leaving all to ponder the changed atmosphere.
William must continue on to San Francisco to finish the story. As William is leaving to fly to San Francisco, Russell tells him to go ahead and write whatever he wants. The "Rolling Stone" editors love the story and can't wait to publish it, but first they have to ask the band to verify it. The band, fearful of the effect the article will have on their image, deny everything. William is crushed and the story is dead. While sitting dejected in the airport, he sees his sister, who had left both home and Elaine to become a stewardess. They go back home together, and William stages a reconciliation.
While backstage at the
Miami Orange Bowlback on the Stillwater tour, Sapphire ( Fairuza Balk) (one of the Band-Aids) talks to Russell about Penny's near-suicide and how despite the many warnings she received about having too many people fall in love with her, one of them ended up saving her life. Russell is initially curious about the person Sapphire talks about (William), but Sapphire immediately chastises him, saying that everyone, including Penny, knows what Russell and the band did to him. Russell then calls Penny and asks for her address, telling her that he wants to meet. Instead she gives him William's address in an attempt to solve the conflict between them. Russell goes to the house thinking it's Penny's but finds Elaine instead. Upon learning who he is, she sends him in to see William. The two of them reconcile and Russell finally gives William the long overdue interview. He then reveals that he called "Rolling Stone" and told them that William's story is true.
The final scenes are a picture of the cover of the "Rolling Stone" issue that will feature William's story with Russell's picture on the front with the rest of the band behind him. We then see images of Penny leaving on her dream trip to Morocco, William at home with his sister and mother, and of the bus which will take the band (without William) on its 1974 tour (with the marquee "NO MORE AIRPLANES TOUR 1974"). Though, as Bangs suggested, rock 'n' roll may be changing from an art form to a profit center, it is implied that at least Stillwater will be immune from this.
Billy Crudupas Russell Hammond
Frances McDormandas Elaine Miller
Kate Hudsonas Penny Lane - Hudson was originally cast in the role of Anita [ [http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=89142844 Zooey Deschanel, Tuning Up with She and Him : NPR Music ] ]
*Jason Lee as Jeff Bebe
Patrick Fugitas William Miller
Zooey Deschanelas Anita Miller
Michael Angaranoas Young William Miller
Anna Paquinas Polexia Aphrodisia
Fairuza Balkas Sapphire
Noah Tayloras Dick Roswell
Mark Kozelekas Larry Fellows
John Fedevichas Ed Vallencourt
Philip Seymour Hoffmanas Lester Bangs
Jimmy Fallonas Dennis Hope
Bijou Phillipsas Estrella Starr
Terry Chenas Ben Fong-Torres
Rainn Wilsonas David Felton
Jay Baruchelas Vic Munoz
Peter Framptonas Reg
Zack Wardas The Legendary Red Dog
Mitch Hedbergas Eagles Road Manager
John Patrick Amedorias Himself
Nick Swardsonas Insane Bowie Fan
William Mapother( deleted scenes) as Bartender
Bodhi Elfman( director's cut) as Alice's manager
Kyle Gass( director's cut) as Quince Allen
Patrick Williams(uncredited) as Roadie
Along with the standard DVD version, Crowe compiled an alternative version entitled "Untitled", which was a compilation of both released footage and his favorite deleted scenes. Running for about 40 minutes longer than the theatrical release, "Untitled" was subtitled "The Bootleg Cut", with its packaging resembling a cheap seventies bootleg. (A variant of "Untitled" is the basis of the network television version of "Almost Famous".)
The DVD also contains a deleted scene that shows William playing
Led Zeppelin's " Stairway to Heaven" (in its entirety) to his mother. The song itself is not included on the soundtrack but the video has a watermark instructing viewers when to start the song.
Major changes to the film
* The hand in the opening titles writes "Untitled" instead of "Almost Famous". ("Untitled" was the title that Cameron Crowe originally wanted for the cinematic release of the film.Fact|date=December 2007)
* Elaine berates a man for painting "Merry Xmas" on a storefront, saying "
Xmas" is not a real word.
* Young William is mocked in the school shower for his lack of pubic hair.
* Additional albums are glimpsed in the scene in which young William finds the record bag under his bed.
* William arrives at school to see that his classmates have changed the marquee on the school's sign to read "William Miller is too young to drive or fuck".
* Bangs talks in more detail about
The Guess Whoand mentions a live version of "American Woman" from the band's "Live at the Paramount".
* Before cutting to the restaurant scene with Bangs, William and Lester stand on a street corner in silence, as Lester waits for a bus.
* Before the first concert, Russell tells William how the littlest details in songs are the ones that people remember the most, citing a vocal sound in
Marvin Gaye's "What's Happening, Brother?" as an example.
* Anita's ex-boyfriend climbs through the window of her bedroom and reminisces to William about the sex that the couple had there.
* Before he leaves for the Hyatt House, William is given a wad of 'gas money' by his mother.
* Penny and William's arrival at the Hyatt House is heavily extended, featuring a longer section with
Peter Frampton, as well as William being told to "blow me!" by a comedian he recognizes.
* Before having sex in the ice room, Penny and Russell have a conversation about their failing relationship.
* Stillwater attends a radio interview, hosted by a stoned DJ (
Kyle Gass) who falls asleep mid-conversation. Band members argue and spout profanities on-air as the DJ snoozes.
* An extra scene before Russell's electric shock shows William attempting to interview Stillwater's dimwitted bassist in the pouring rain.
* The backstage fight over the blurry t-shirt includes an added exchange in which Russell asks Jeff if he's on cocaine.
* In addition to "Page, Plant...Mick, Keith", Jeff also mentions
Ritchie Blackmoreand Ian Gillanof Deep Purplewhen he gives examples of frontmen/guitarist songwriting teams.
* A couple of lines were added to the scene in Aaron's bedroom, in which Russell gives his belt to a young admirer.
* The scene after Russell jumps into the swimming pool is extended.
* The band holds a birthday party for Penny Lane, where she first learns that she is not welcome on the airplane.
* Upon exiting the band's car in New York, William's bag tears, spilling his (stolen) souvenirs from hotels all over the pavement. He is assisted in picking them up by Dick. This explains, in the regular cut, why William is holding a torn bag when he is confronted by superfan Vic.
* After Penny Lane's recovery from her
Quaaludeoverdose, she and William walk by the lake in Central Park. She proceeds to tell him her real name, and in the extended cut, says: " Keith Richardslooked at me, pulled me on stage, he took me backstage, and gave me a Coke with ice and a lemon. And I never went home."
* A short scene is added near the end as Jeff and Russell talk their relationship through.
The film's award-winning soundtrack features over 50 songs, making up an eclectic mix of period rock, other period genres, and some songs written by Crowe's wife, Nancy Wilson, expressly for the movie. Highlights include rarely-licensed
Led Zeppelintracks, Simon & Garfunkel's "America", Elton John's " Tiny Dancer", and "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters", Steely Dan's " Reelin' in the Years", Joni Mitchell's " River" and Thunderclap Newman's "Something in the Air". There is one slight anachronism: during a party scene the song "Burn" by Deep Purpleplays in the background. The album was not released until February 1974, a half year after the events are supposed to have taken place.
oundtrack album track listing
Simon and Garfunkel- "America"
The Who- "Sparks"
Todd Rundgren- "It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference"
# Yes - ""
The Beach Boys- " Feel Flows"
# Stillwater - "Fever Dog"
Rod Stewart- " Every Picture Tells a Story"
The Seeds- "Mr. Farmer"
The Allman Brothers Band- "One Way Out" (Live)
Lynyrd Skynyrd- " Simple Man"
Led Zeppelin- " That's the Way"
Elton John- " Tiny Dancer"
# Nancy Wilson - "Lucky Trumble"
David Bowie- " I'm Waiting for the Man" (Live)
Cat Stevens- "The Wind"
Clarence Carter- "Slip Away"
Thunderclap Newman- "Something in the Air"
;Songs that are featured in the movie but not on the soundtrack album
The Chipmunks- " The Chipmunk Song"
Brenton Wood- " The Oogum Boogum Song"
The Stooges- "Search and Destroy"
Black Sabbath- "Paranoid"
Jethro Tull- "Teacher"
*Yes - "Roundabout"
Joni Mitchell- "River"
Black Sabbath- " Sweet Leaf"
Pete Droge- " Small Time Blues"
John Keen- " Something in the Air"
Little Feat- " Easy to Slip"
Eric Carmen- " Go All the Way"
Peter Frampton, Wayne Kirkpatrick& Gordon Kennedy- " Hour of Need"
The Guess Who- " Albert Flasher"
Russell Hammond& Jeffrey Bebe- " Love Thing"
Neil Young- " Everybody Knows This is Nowhere"
Fleetwood Mac- " Future Games"
Deep Purple- "Burn"
Peter Frampton, Wayne Kirkpatrick& Gordon Kennedy- " You Had to Be There"
Blodwyn Pig- " Dear Jill"
Steely Dan- " Reeling in the Years"
MC5- " Looking at You"
*Stillwater - "Love Comes and Goes"
Jimi Hendrix- " Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
Lou Reed- " I'm Waiting for the Man"
*Free - "
Jerry Allison, Norman Petty& Buddy Holly- " Peggy Sue"
Led Zeppelin- " Misty Mountain Hop"
Elton John- " Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters"
Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show- " The Cover of Rolling Stone"
Stevie Wonder- " My Cherie Amour"
James Pankow- " Colour My Wind"
Neil Young- " Cortez the Killer"
Led Zeppelin- " The Rain Song"
Led Zeppelin- " Bron-Y-Aur"
Led Zeppelin- " Tangerine"
*Stillwater - "Chance Upon You"
* In the scene in which the tour plane hits turbulence, Russell starts to sing "Peggy Sue". This is in reference to
Buddy Holly, who died in a plane crash while on tour. Russell then continues "Whoa baby!", referencing The Big Bopper, who died in the same plane crash.
*At the party, when he is on acid, Russell Hammond cries out, "I am a golden god!" This is a reference to
Robert Plantof the band Led Zeppelin, who is purported to have said the same thing (sober) while looking over the Sunset Stripfrom a hotel balcony. Plant is referenced again in an earlier scene in which Sapphire ( Fairuza Balk) bursts open the back door at the arena and says, "Does anyone remember laughter?", much like Plant did when he improvised during live performances of " Stairway To Heaven".
* When William goes to "Rolling Stone"'s offices,
Terry Chen(playing "RS" music editor Ben Fong-Torres) stands in front of a poster for Hunter S. Thompson's Freak Power campaign.
* Featuring over 50 songs, the film's music budget was $3.5 million. Most music budgets for films are less than $1.5 million.
* During the opening credits, the hand that's writing on the notepad belongs to
* Stillwater's songs were written by
Peter Frampton(who also had a small part in the film), Cameron Crowe and his wife Nancy Wilson of the rock band Heart, a fact indicated early in the credits although the music acknowledgments credit Russell Hammond and Stillwater as if they were real authors and performers.
* According to the commentary on the director's cut,
Noah Taylorstayed in character as the band's manager during breaks in filming.
Pearl Jamlead guitarist Mike McCreadyplays some of the guitar bits in the film.
* In 2008, "
Entertainment Weekly" named the film soundtrack #23 on its list of best in the past 25 years, [http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20207076_20207387_20207423,00.html] and named the film poster one of the top 25 of the past 25 years. [http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20207076_20207387_20207597,00.html]
* The school shown for a few seconds near the beginning of the film is the
University of San Diego High School(USDHS), Cameron Crowe's alma mater. Crowe also cast his former journalism teacher from USDHS, Danny Wilson, to make a cameo during the high school graduation scene.
* The concert scenes that open the film were filmed down the road from USDHS at the
San Diego Sports Arena.
* [http://www.cameroncrowe.com/eyes_ears/films/almostfamous/almostfamous_overview.html Official site]
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