Early on in Hackford's well-researched documentary and concert film about the legendary Chuck Berry, we see Berry outside the Fox Theatre in St Louis, from which he was excluded as a boy because of his colour, and now to be the scene of his 60th birthday concert. Interviews with Berry's contemporaries - pianist and former partner Johnnie Johnson, wild man Little Richard and Bo Diddley - stress his originality, while family members fill in the personal background. Unusually, the emphasis is on the development of his unique guitar sound, with keen insights into his diverse influences. Berry's voice is shot, and several songs - 'School Days', 'Sweet Little Sixteen', 'Memphis' - fall hopelessly flat, but his guest stars do him proud: Richard's clanging riffs on 'Little Queenie', Clapton's bluesy licks on 'Wee Wee Hours', and R & B queen Etta James' gutsy, soulful singing on 'Rock'n'Roll Music'. The sound recording is excellent, and the fluid camerawork and sharp editing capture the live concert atmosphere.
Cast and crew
Jerry Lee Lewis