Best Music Movies of 1980


The Blues Brothers


Jake Blues is just out of jail, and teams up with his brother, Elwood on a 'mission from God' to raise funds for the orphanage in which they grew up. The only thing they can do is do what they do best: play music. So they get their old band together, and set out on their way—while getting in a bit of trouble here and there.

Starring: Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, James Brown, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles
Directed by: John Landis
Release date: 1980-06-17

Coal Miner's Daughter


Biography of Loretta Lynn, a country and western singer that came from poverty to fame.

Starring: Sissy Spacek, Tommy Lee Jones, Levon Helm, Beverly D'Angelo, William Sanderson
Directed by: Michael Apted
Release date: 1980-03-07



A chronicle of the lives of several teenagers who attend a New York high school for students gifted in the performing arts.

Starring: Irene Cara, Lee Curreri, Laura Dean, Boyd Gaines, Albert Hague
Directed by: Alan Parker
Release date: 1980-05-16

AC/DC: Let There Be Rock


Before the show - Live wire - Shot down in flames - Hell ain't a bad place to be - Sin city - Walk all over - You - Bad boy boogie - The jack - Highway to hell - Girls got rhythm - High voltage - Whole lotta Rosie - Rocker - Let there be rock

Starring: Bon Scott, Angus Young, Malcolm Young, Cliff Williams, Phil Rudd
Directed by: Eric Dionysius, Eric Mistler
Release date: 1980-09-14

Playing for Time

Playing for Time
When a Jewish songstress is plucked from the stage and sent to Auschwitz, she and other musicians find themselves assigned to a terrible task—using their talents to soothe fellow prisoners who are sentenced to die in the gas chambers.
Starring: Vanessa Redgrave, Jane Alexander, Maud Adams, Christine Baranski, Robin Bartlett
Directed by: Daniel Mann, Joseph Sargent
Release date: 1980-09-30



Popeye is a super-strong, spinach-scarfing sailor man who's searching for his father. During a storm that wrecks his ship, Popeye washes ashore and winds up rooming at the Oyl household, where he meets Olive. Before he can win her heart, he must first contend with Olive's fiancé, Bluto.

Starring: Robin Williams, Shelley Duvall, Ray Walston, Paul Dooley, Richard Libertini
Directed by: Robert Altman
Release date: 1980-12-12

The Bar

The Bar
A Pakistani musical
Starring: Allauddin, Nadeem Baig, Diana Christiana, Ray Martin, Shabnam
Directed by: Nazrul Islam
Release date: 1980-01-11

Times Square

Times Square
Two ill-matched teenage girls form a punk band and soon have New York by its ears.
Starring: Tim Curry, Trini Alvarado, Robin Johnson, Peter Coffield, Herbert Berghof
Directed by: Allan Moyle
Release date: 1980-10-17

Forbidden Zone


A mysterious door in the basement of the Hercules house leads to the Sixth Dimension by way of a gigantic set of intestine. When Frenchy slips through the door, King Fausto falls in love with her. The jealous Queen Doris takes Frenchy prisoner, and it is up to the Hercules family and friend Squeezit Henderson to rescue her.

Starring: Hervé Villechaize, Susan Tyrrell, Gisele Lindley, Jan Stuart Schwartz, Marie-Pascale Elfman
Directed by: Richard Elfman
Release date: 1980-03-21

The Idolmaker


Based on the life of rock promoter/producer Bob Marucci, who discovered, among others, Frankie Avalon and Fabian.

Starring: Ray Sharkey, Peter Gallagher, Joe Pantoliano, Paul Land, JoJo D'Amore
Directed by: Taylor Hackford
Release date: 1980-11-14

The Competition


The movie centers on a piano competition whose winner is assured of success. It is Paul's last chance to compete, but newcomer Heidi may be a better pianist. Can romance be far away? Will she take a dive despite the pressure to win from her teacher, Greta, or will she condemn Paul to obscurity?

Starring: Richard Dreyfuss, Amy Irving, Lee Remick, Sam Wanamaker, Joseph Cali
Directed by: Joel Oliansky
Release date: 1980-12-03



A beautiful muse inspires an artist and his older friend to convert a dilapidated auditorium into a lavish rollerskating club.

Starring: Olivia Newton-John, Gene Kelly, Michael Beck, James Sloyan, Katie Hanley
Directed by: Robert Greenwald
Release date: 1980-08-08

Honeysuckle Rose


Buck Bonham is a country singer on the road caught in a romantic triangle with Dyan Cannon and Amy Irving, the daughter of one of his longtime musical sidekick.

Starring: Willie Nelson, Dyan Cannon, Amy Irving, Slim Pickens, Joey Floyd
Directed by: Jerry Schatzberg
Release date: 1980-07-18

Joni Mitchell - Shadows and Light

Joni Mitchell - Shadows and Light
Joni Mitchell's 1970s and '80s forays into jazzier territory may have distressed her folkie faithful, but they also resulted in some uncompromising, challenging, and, yes, entertaining music. Witness this 73-minute document from her '79 tour, which finds her backed by her greatest band eve. Mitchell's The Hissing of Summer Lawns-Hejira-Mingus period is heavily favored; there are two tunes from Court and Spark, but nothing earlier. It's not perfect--the film clips edited into the live tracks (at Mitchell's direction) are an annoying distraction (Rebel Without a Cause? Huh?). But by the time Mitchell, Mays, and vocal group the Persuasions finish a spine-tingling version of the title song, you'll have witnessed something special--and historic, as this was the only time this stellar crew toured together. --Sam Graham
Starring: Jaco Pastorius, Joni Mitchell
Directed by: Joni Mitchell
Release date: 1980-09-01

The Jazz Singer


Neil Diamond stars as Yussel in this tale of a young Jewish cantor who strives to make a career in music.

Starring: Neil Diamond, Laurence Olivier, Lucie Arnaz, Catlin Adams, Franklyn Ajaye
Directed by: Richard Fleischer
Release date: 1980-12-17

Das Rheingold


This is a beautifully conducted and thoughtfully staged performance of the first opera (the prologue) in Wagner's Ring Cycle. As soon as the clouds of mist have dissipated, while the daring, long-held opening chord is still reverberating, the screen clears to show not only the River Rhine and the three maidens (dressed like prostitutes in this production) assigned to guard the gold hidden there. It also shows an enormous dam (not mentioned in Wagner's text). This is the underwater base of a hydroelectric plant, and its presence tells us two things immediately: that this production takes the story out of the vaguely medieval fantasy world in which Wagner had placed it, and that a basic theme of the four-opera cycle would be power. Alberich, the Nibelung, is willing to renounce the love of women, after stealing the gold from the Rhine, to become the ruler of the world. Another basic theme is greed.

Starring: Pierre Boulez, Donald McIntyre, Martin Egel, Siegfried Jerusalem, Heinz Zednik
Directed by: Patrice Chéreau, Brian Large
Release date: 1980-08-12


Götterdämmerung, the fourth of Richard Wagner's four Ring operas. The cast features Manfred Jung as Siegfried and Gwyneth Jones as Brünnhilde, with music provided by Bayreuther Festspiele Orchester conducted by Pierre Boulez. This title is available in a boxed set with the other Ring operas, Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, and Siegfried.
Starring: Pierre Boulez, Gwyneth Jones, Manfred Jung, Fritz Hübner, Hermann Becht
Directed by: Patrice Chéreau, Brian Large
Release date: 1980-08-12

Biceps of Steel

The film depicts a 'super roadie' who fights evil orange jumpsuit-wearing bouncers stopping a rock and roll crowd from having a good time. He then falls foul of an evil wench who seduces and cuts his hair in order to take away his strength.
Starring: Barry Reeve, Mary Tempest, Bruce Dickinson, Chris Aylmer, Barry Purkis
Directed by: Julien Temple
Release date: 1980-06-26


The third opera in Richard Wagner's epic Ring cycle, Siegfried follows the adventures of the son of demigods Siegmund and Sieglinde as he conquers his enemies and rescues the beauteous Brunnhilde with the help of his magic sword. This video preserves the controversial 1976 Bayreuth Centenary production, with Pierre Boulez leading the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra. Manfred Jung leads the cast as Siegfried, with Gwyneth Jones as Brunnhilde, Donald McIntyre as the Wanderer, and Hermann Becht as Alberich.
Starring: Pierre Boulez, Manfred Jung, Heinz Zednik, Gwyneth Jones, Donald McIntyre
Directed by: Patrice Chéreau, Brian Large
Release date: 1980-08-12

Headin' for Broadway

Headin' for Broadway
In this musical, plucky group of teenagers aspire to do their stuff on the Great White Way.
Starring: Rex Smith, Terri Treas, Vivian Reed, Paul Carafotes, Gary Gendell
Directed by: Joseph Brooks
Release date: 1980-05-01

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