Exploring: Movies Based on Songs

Growing up, I always loved story songs instead of ditties that were just verse/chorus/verse. Many of these songs ended up becoming so popular that they transcended just being something you heard on the radio and inspired movies that may or may not have been successful. Here are but a few of the many movies that are based on all manner of songs, particularly story songs.

Please keep in mind that movies that simply take their titles from songs, like Can’t Hardly Wait and Sweet Home Alabama, are not eligible. We want to know what the song is really about!

Also, while some songs come after the movie and become a big deal, like 9 to 5, we’re looking for movies where the song came first.

We’re also answering a very important question: Does the artist show up in this? After all, don’t we want to see the person who sang the song in the film?

Did we miss any? Let us know!


Take This Job and Shove It (Gus Trikonis, 1981): Written by David Allan Coe and sung by Johnny Paycheck, this country song found even greater success when it became a film directed by the man who brought us Nashville Girl. It’s all about a man (Robert Hayes) trying to keep a brewery alive in his hometown after a major corporation buys it. This has a great early 80’s cast, including Barbara Hershey, Art Carney, Tim Thomerson, Martin Mull, Royal Dano and James Karen.

Does the artist show up? Yes, Paycheck plays “man with hamburger” and Coe is Mooney, who is married to country singer Lacy J. Dalton. Charlie Rich is also in this, if you’re looking for country artists.

Convoy (Sam Peckinpah (James Coburn uncredited), 1978): This C.W. McCall song came on the radio the other day and Becca said, “I bet you love this stupid song.” I sure do. And I love the fact that this movie is somehow the most financially successful of Peckinpah’s long career as well as the reason why Ali McGraw quit cocaine.

Does the artist show up? No.

Big Bad John (Burt Kennedy, 1990): Jimmy Dean’s last film was based on his 1961 song about a couple of kids who elopes to escape the girl’s evil stepfather.

Does the artist show up? He sure does.

The Indian Runner (Sean Penn, 1991): Produced by Steve Bannon — yes, that guy — and written and directed by Sean Penn, this was based on the Springsteen song “Highway Patrolman.” It has a hell of a cast, with a late in his career Charles Bronson showing up.

Does the artist show up? No.

The Legend of Tom Dooley (Ted Post, 1959): Based on the folk song that was recorded by the Kingston Trio in 1958, this movie follows the lyrics of that song more closely than the actual murder case that inspired it. Starring Michael Landon, this was directed by the same man who brought us The Baby.

Does the artist show up? No, as the original murder ballad was written in the previous century.

Alice’s Restaurant (Arthur Penn, 1969): Based on the folk song 1967 folk song “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree”, written and sung by Arlo Guthrie, who also stars in this comedic retelling.

Does the artist show up? Not only is Guthrie in the movie, the real Alice Brock is on hand, as are Stockbridge police chief William Obanhein and Judge James E. Hannon. As to why the cop playing a role that made him look dumb, he told Newsweek that if anyone was going to make him look like a fool, it would be himself.

Born In East L.A. (Cheech Marin, 1987): After the break-up of his comedic team with Tommy Chong, Cheech Marin was invited by executive Frank Price to make his own film. Price was fired because of Howard the Duck, but this was a great decision, as the film based on Cheech and Chong’s Bruce Springsteen parody would be a major success. Marin wrote, directed and…

Does the artist show up? Seguro que lo hace.

Ode to Billy Joe (Max Baer Jr., 1976): You read that correctly. This movie was produced and directed by the former Jethro Bodine. Working with Herman Raucher (who also wrote Summer of ’42), songwriter Bobbie Gentry expanded the story of the song.

Does the artist appear? While this was shot near Gentry’s hometown of Greenwood, Mississippi, she does not appear in the movie.

The Night the Lights Went Out In Georgia (Ronald F. Maxwell, 1981): How strange is this? While this was based on the Vicki Lawrence song, it has a new version of the song in the film, with Tanya Tucker singing, and has changed the words to fit the plot of the movie, which has nothing to do with the song that inspired the film other than the chorus.

Does the artist appear? No, but Mark Hamill does.

Harper Valley P.T.A. (Richard Bennett and Ralph Senensky, 1978): “The song was scandalous. The movie is hilarious!” Jeannie C. Riley was the first woman to have a song top both the country and pop charts — one week apart, but still, quite a feat — at the same time (Dolly Parton would also do this with 9 to 5).

The song comes from singer Margie Singleton had asked Tom T. Hall to write her a song similar to “Ode to Billie Joe.” Hall went so far as to pretty much copy the melody and write new lyrics. There was a rush to get this song out, as Singleton and Billie Jo Spears had already recorded it, but Riley — working as a secretary for songwriter Jerry Chesnut, rushed it out on Plantation Records. That’s the version that stuck with the public.

This Barbara Eden-starring film was so popular that it led to its own TV series.

As for Riley, she found God and went into gospel. She even recorded a sequel to this song, “Return to Harper Valley,” in which Mrs. Johnson goes to a school dance and ends up praying for everyone while revealing what happened to several of the characters. It did not chart, despite being written by Hall and mentioning the Stray Cats.

Does the artist appear? No.

Chattanooga Choo Choo (Bruce Bilson, 1984): As if one song becoming a movie starring Barbara Eden wasn’t enough, here’s another! Based on the 1941 Glenn Miller song, ads promised “The song that kept America chuggin’ along is this summer’s funniest movie!”

Even stranger, both movies were produced by George Edwards, perhaps better known for producing the Curtis Harrington films FrogsQueen of BloodHow Awful About Allan and What’s the Matter with Helen?

Does the artist appear? No, Miller disappeared during World War II and his death remains unsolved.

Copacabana (Waris Hussein, 1985): Dick Clark asked Barry Manilow and the hit song’s co-writers Bruce Sussman and Jack Feldman to make a musical film. They got James Lipton — yes, the same man who hosted Inside the Actor’s Studio — to write this movie, which originally aired on CBS on December 3, 1985. This is one of the most depressing movies a 13-year-old Sam had seen outside of Bud and Lou, so yes, you really did learn who shot who at the Copa, Copacabana, the hottest spot north of Havana.

Does the artist appear? He sure does. Don’t fall in love (at the Copa…Copacabaaaaana).

Yellow Submarine (George Dunning, Robert Balser, Jack Stokes, Dennis Abey, Al Brodax, 1968): One of the fondest memories of my childhood was getting to stay up past the end of Chiller Theater — which was showing King Kong Escapes — research points this date to be Saturday, September 2, 1978 — and until the sun rose to watch this as my father and grandfather valiantly battled to fix the furnace. This animated version of the Beatles was everything to me as a kid and it took more than 200 artists 11 months of hard work to craft it.

Does the artist appear? While the real Beatles — minus Paul, who of course is dead — show up at the end, their voices were actually John Clive as John, Geoffrey Hughes as Paul, Peter Batten as George and Paul Angelis as Ringo and George.

Across the Universe (Julie Taymor, 2007): This jukebox musical features 33 Beatles songs to tell the story of two lovers, Jude and Lucy. It had a rough editing process, as Taymor wanted a much longer cut than the studio. She won out and the film won over Paul McCartney, Yoko Ono and George Harrison’s widow Olivia. No word on what Ringo thinks.

Does the artist appear? No.

Coward of the County (Dick Lowry, 1981): Kenny Rogers was a massive crossover success in the late 70’s and early 80’s, which led him to turn his song all about the fact that “sometimes you gotta fight when you’re a man” into an actual film.

Does the artist appear? Not only does he sing the song in the movie, but Kenny plays a fighting holy man who helps the titular character beat the unholy heck out of the Gatlin boys.

The Gambler (Dick Lowry, 1980): The Lowry/Rogers team started adapting his songs a year before Coward of the County with this made-for-TV movie, which told the story of Brady Hawkes, the gambler from the song. While the song has the gambler dying — or at least I always felt that way — the character lived through four sequels, all directed by Lowry except for the last entry, Gambler V: Playing for Keeps, which was directed by Jack Bender (The Midnight HourChild’s Play 3) and written by Frank Q. Dobbs (Enter the Devil).

Does the artist appear? Kenny is in every single one of these films, which you could have enjoyed along with a bucket of his Kenny Rogers Roasters chicken, which is still available in Malaysia. Strangely, while everyone associates Rogers with this song, he wasn’t the first to release it. There were versions by songwriter Don Schlitz, Bobby Bare and Johnny Cash released before Rogers recorded the song. Also — there was one more Rogers song turned into a movie, 1990’s Christmas In America.

Speaking of Christmas, the following songs all inspired movies:

The Christmas Shoes (Andy Wolk, 2002): If you ever wonder what song I hate the most, this movie will give you the answer. Based on both the song by NewSong and the book by Donna VanLiere, this movie gets played in my house every holiday season, making me into the worst Grinch you’ve ever met. This film is pure pain.

Does the artist appear? No.

Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer (Phil Roman, 2000): You know, it seems like there are no new Christmas songs, but if you go by this film and the one before it, perhaps that’s a good thing. This Elmo and Patsy Trigg Shropshire song played incessantly in 1979 and every year thereafter, it comes back kind of like herpes. After Elmo and Patsy divorced — they originally handmade their own cassettes of the song — Dr. Elmo re-recorded it.

Does the artist appear? Yes, Elmo is grandpa and the narrator in the animated version of this story.

Frosty the Snowman (Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass, 1969): Based on the Walter “Jack” Rollins and Steve Nelson song — first recorded by Gene Autry and the Cass County Boys and re-recorded for this movie by Jimmy Durante — this was the second of Autry’s seasonal songs to be turned into a film. The first one? It’s coming up next).

Does the artist appear? Yes, Durante — who recorded the song for the first time in 1950 — also plays the narrator. Who plays Frosty? Comedian Jackie Vernon, who is also in Microwave Massacre.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Larry Roemer and Kizo Nagashima1964): The longest continuously running Christmas special, Rudolph is based on the Johnny Marks song. Marks also wrote “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” “Silver and Gold,” “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” and “Run Rudolph Run.” He wrote most of the music in this special, as well. What’s interesting to me are all the changes this has undergone over the years, from the Peppermint Mine being deleted (rendering the reason why Yukon Cornelius really tastes his axe throughout meaningless), number shortened for length to allow for more commercials and a new sequence being added to show Santa fulfilling his promise to the misfit toys. Even crazier, the original puppets used to make this were given away after it was filmed, with most of them being destroyed.

Does the artist appear? While Gene Autry, who is most associated with this song, does not appear, Burl Ives — who plays Sam the Snowman — did sing the theme and “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” which became seasonal favorites.

Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town (Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass, 1970): Rankin and Bass further dominated the holidays with yet another addition in 1970, this time based on a song that Eddie Cantor first sang in 1939. Featuring Fred Astaire as a mailman, Mickey Rooney as Santa, Keenan Wynn as the Winter Warlock, Robie Lester (who was the voice of the Disneyland Story Reader albums), voiceover actress Joan Gardner (who wrote The Beach Girls and the Monster) and Paul Frees are all in this.

Does the artist appear? No.

The Little Drummer Boy (Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass, 1968): First recorded by the Trapp Family Singers in 1951, this song ended uo inspiring another Rankin-Bass special. Man, these guys had enough to run one every day for the entire month of December. 23 of them were written by Romeo Miller, who also wrote the Tolkein animated movies, Strawberry Shortcake and  the Puff the Magic Dragon cartoons, which, you guessed it, were also based on the song by Peter, Paul and Mary.

Does the artist appear? No.

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (John Shepphird, 2001): If you have the Freeform channel, this is one of the many holiday specials that you can watch over and over all December long. It’s based on the song that was originally recorded by Jimmy Boyd in 1952, which was condemned by the Roman Catholic Church in Boston because it mixed kissing with the religious holiday.

Does the artist appear? No.

Last Christmas (Paul Feig, 2019): The latest film from Feig, whose Ghostbusters angered male-centric film lovers and was a bad movie that people felt somehow compelled to defend in the face of chauvinism, this movie combines The Sixth Sense with schmaltz, all set to the Wham! song that becomes inescapable by November. In fact, I play a game with several of my friends to see who survives the longest not hearing this song.

Does the artist appear? While George Michael has sadly left us, Andrew Ridgely shows up.

The Happy Elf (John Rice, 2005): Based on the Harry Connick Jr. song, this animated story is all about Eubie the Elf bringing joy to Bluesville.

Does the artist appear? Yes, he provides the voice of Lil’ Farley.

Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors (Stephen Herek, 2015): The Dolly Parton song about how her childhood jacket — made from the baby quilt of a brother who died prematurely — is an inspiring tale. Interestingly enough, director Stephen Herek also was behind CrittersBill and Ted’s Excellent AdventureThe Mighty Ducks, Mr. Holland’s Opus and more.

Does the artist appear?  Nearly everyone from this project would return for 2016’s Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love, including Parton herself, who plays the Painted Lady, a prostitute who befriends the young movie version of herself.

Jolene (Dan Ireland, 2008): Based on the short story “Jolene: A Life” by E. L. Doctorow and inspired by Dolly Parton’s song, this movie was the debut of Jessica Chastain.

Does the artist appear? No.

Purple People Eater (Linda Shayne, 1988): Linda Shayne was in Out of BoundsNo Man’s LandGraduation Day and Humanoids from the Deep before writing ScrewballsCrystal Heart and this film. Oh this film. Neil Patrick Harris plays a young lad able to manifest the Purple People Eater whenever he plays that song, which he does quite often, mostly to save the home of Ned Beatty and Shelley Winters from an evil landlord. This is a movie that has those on the way up and those on the way down and no one in-between, such as a young Dustin Diamond, Thora Birch, Ned Beatty, Shelley Winters, Peggy Lipton, Little Richard and Chubby Checker. I’ll leave it up to you to determine the career trajectory of each. Perhaps most astounding is that the titular creature was made by the Chiodo Brothers, who made Killer Klowns from Outer Space.

Does the artist appear? Yes, he’s the aforementioned evil landlord.

Mamma Mia (Phyllida Lloyd, 2008): Yeah, I’ll admit it. I love ABBA. Even as such, I’ve successfully avoided this jukebox musical that uses 21 of their songs, as well as the 2018’s Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, which has 18 more songs and 7 instrumental versions of ABBA songs.

Does the artist appear? Yes. Benny Andersson shows up as a piano player on “Dancing Queen” and Björn Ulvaeus plays a Greek god. The premiere of the film in Sweden was the first time that all four members of ABBA had been photographed together since 1986.

Beer for my Horses

Beer for My Horses (Michael Salomon, 2008): Starring and co-produced by country music singer Toby Keith, this movie is based on his duet with Willie Nelson. Rodney Carrington (who also stars in the film) co-wrote this comedy, this movie posits a world where Claire Forlani and Gina Gershon can both fall for Toby, as well as a place where Ted Nugent is a police officer. In short, it is Hell.

Does the artist appear? Yes, along with Keith appearing, Nelson shows up as Charlie, a circus employee.

Pretty In Pink (Howard Deutch, 1986): “Pretty in Pink” was first released on the Psychedelic Furs second album “Talk Talk Talk.” Molly Ringwald told movie maker John Hughes about the song, which inspired the story and title of this film. The Furs re-recorded the song for this soundtrack, making it their second-biggest U.S. hit after “Heartbreak Beat.” This year, frontman Richard Butler — as reported by NME — said that Hughes got the song wrong. “God rest his soul, he kind of got the wrong end of the stick with that song. He made it to be literally about a girl that was wearing a pink dress and it wasn’t about that at all. It was about a rather unfortunate girl. Me saying “pretty in pink” meant somebody who is naked. It was a metaphor…given that, the movie did us a lot of good.

Does the artist appear? No, but the soundtrack to this film is a true time capsule of the nascent alternative scene of 1986, with Echo & the Bunnymen, The Smiths, OMD, New Order, Suzanna Vega and others showing up.

Saturday Night Fever (John Badham, 1977): Based on a 1976 New York magazine article (“Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night”) by British writer Nik Cohn*, you may think that this inspired the Bee Gee’s to write a song with the title “Saturday Night,” but the band had already written a song called “Night Feve.” The brothers Gibb would rule the charts when this was released, becoming the first band since The Beatles to have six #1 singles in a row. Here’s how much they dominated: “Night Fever” replaced Andy Gibb’s “Love Is Thicker Than Water” at number one and would be replaced by Yvonne Elliman’s “If I Can’t Have You,” which was also written and produced by the Gibbs. The song would be the #2 song of 1978, behind Andy’s “Shadow Dancing.”

The album from this movie was on the charts for 120 weeks, an amazing record, and generated six singles.

Pretty amazing for a movie that didn’t even have the Bee Gees used for the filming. Instead Stevie Wonder and Boz Scaggs songs were used until Columbia Records refused to allow Scaggs’ music to be used.

*At some point in the mid-1990s, Cohn acknowledged that he made the entire story up. He couldn’t get a handle on disco, so he based Tony on an English mod he grew up with.

Does the artist appear? No.

The Hitcher (Robert Harmon, 1986): Writer Eric Red had made a cross-country drive from New York City to Austin, Texas, during which he listened to The Doors song “Riders on the Storm”. He said that the “elements of the song — a killer on the road in a storm plus the cinematic feel of the music — would make a terrific opening for a film.” He would develop the script while in Austin for seven months, working as a cab driver. He also based the role of the Hitcher — Rutger Hauer is absolutely perfect — as Keith Richards.

Does the artist appear? No.

Peggy Sue Got Married (Francis Ford Coppola, 1986): The song “Peggy Sue Got Married” is one of the first sequels in music, as Buddy Holly explores what happened to a past lover and the subject of his big hit “Peggy Sue.” This film, inspired somewhat by the song, allows Peggy Sue to go back in time and relive what led her life down the path it has, 25 years after high school. It’s worth noting that Kathleen Turner hated nearly every choice that Nicolas Cage made in this movie, from the nasal voice that he based on Gumby’s horse Pokey to the false teeth he wore. She would even claim that he was arrested for drunk driving and stealing a chihuahua during filming, facts that he successfully sued to prove were not facts at all.

Does the artist appear? No.

Road Less Traveled (Blair Hayes, 2017): Based on the Lauren Alaina — and starring the singer — the story of the actual song (Alaina was dealing with the divorce of her parents and wanted to record a tune to help others going through painful life-changing moments) seems more interesting than this movie.

Does the artist appear? Yes, she plays the lead.

All I Want for Christmas Is You (Guy Vasilovich, 2016): There’s a B in the B&S About Movies and that would be Becca, who loves Mariah Carey with the same devotion that I love Lucio Fulci. Therefore, this movie — based on a Mariah song — plays quite often over the holidays. Glitter, sadly, plays all year long.

Does the artist appear? Yes. We also have the book.

St. Louis Blues (Allen Reisner, 1958): Based on the life of W.C. Handy — the “Father of the Blues” — this movie is positively packed with talent, including Nat “King” Cole, Pearl Bailey, Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald (who would adopt the titular song almost as her own), Eartha Kitt, and Barney Bigard, Mahalia Jackson and Ruby Dee. It also features ten of Handy’s songs.

Does the artist appear? No. He sadly died the year it was made.

I Can Only Imagine (Erwin Brothers, 2018): Man, there must be a cottage industry translating Christian and Country music artists’ songs for the screen. Here’s another, based on the Mercy Me song. Well this one made back 12 times its budget, but it is based on the highest selling faith song of all time.

Does the artist appear? No.

Detroit Rock City (Adam Rifkin, 1999): A KISS cover band tries to meet their idol in the movie that uses the title of one of the band’s songs. The craziest thing of this whole movie is that all of the original members of KISS show up, as this was one of those times that the stars aligned and Peter, Paul, Gene and Ace were all getting along.

Does the artist appear? Yes. After all, this is all about the city that Paul said of, “”There is one city in America that opened up your arms and opened up your legs to us.”

The Elder (Seb Hunter, unknown): The first album with drummer Eric Carr and the last to feature Ace Frehley, Music from The Elder was the ninth KISS album and their first concept record. It was a return to rock for the band and also a chance to work with The Wall (and Destroyer) producer Bob Ezrin. The band was embarrassed by the results, never touring and only playing the songs — at the time — live on Fridays (“A World Without Heroes”, “I,” and “The Oath”), Solid Gold (“A World Without Heroes” and “I”), and a strange trio performance of “I” without Ace — who’d left, frustrated that the album was not straight-ahead rock as promised — lip-synced live from Studio 54. Ezrin would blame cocaine. Stanley and Simmons say they were delusional. Ace would say the whole thing wasn’t a good idea. PS: Lou Reed wrote one of the lyrics on the album: “a world without heroes is like a world without sun,” which sounds weird being covered by Cher.

Oh yeah — the movie! It’s been in production since 2011 without the assistance of KISS, so who knows what’s happening with it!

Does the artist appear? No way in hot, hot, hotter than hell.

The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo (Stephen Roberts, 1935): This British music hall song was popularized by singer and comedian Charles Coborn. This film also led to Francis, Day and Hunter Ltd. vs. Twentieth Century Fox Corp., a landmark copyright case that fought to prove that even though Fred Gilbert’s song had been copywritten under the Copyright Act of 1842, they had failed to acquire the parallel performing right under the Copyright (Musical Compositions) Act of 1882, which allowed 20th Century Fox to make this movie with the name of his song for free. PS: The studio won, but it took years. The song also appears in Orson Welles’ The Magnificent Ambersons.

Does the artist appear? No.

A Piece of My Heart (Edward af Sillén, 2019): This Swedish jukebox musical — there’s that term again, which refers to a musical film where the majority of the numbers are well-known pop songs — based on Tomas Ledin’s song “En Del av Mitt Hjärta.” It also features Malin Åkerman in her first Swedish-language film.

Does the artist appear? No, but he wrote several new songs for the movie.

Ten Cents a Dance (Lionel Barrymore, 1931): Inspired by the song of the same name, this movie features Barbara Stanwyck as a married taxi dancer — yes, like the private dancer of a Tina Turner song — who falls for one of her customers.

Does the artist appear? No. However, a Spanish version was shot at the same time and René Cardona — yes, the director of Santa ClausNight of the Bloody Apes and Wrestling Women vs. the Aztec Mummy — is in it.

Monster Mash (Joel Cohen and Alec Sokolow, 1995): Before Cohen and Sokolow wrote Toy Story, they directed this adaption of Bobby Pickett and Sheldon Allman’s musical I’m Sorry the Bridge Is Out, You’ll Have to Spend the Night. Pickett is probably best known for the song “Monster Mash,” so that was added to this film, which features Full House star Candace Cameron, Jimmi “Dynomite” Walker, Sarah “Ursa” Douglas, John “Crypt Keeper” Kassir, Deron McBee (who was Malibu on American Gladiators and played Montaro in Mortal Kombat Annihilation), Dancing with the Stars judge Carrie Ann Inaba and, of all people, Mink Stole as the wolfman’s mother.

Does the artist appear? Yes, “Boris” Pickett plays Dr. Frankenstein.

Love Me Tender (Robert D. Webb and Stanley Hough, 1956): Originally titled The Reno Brothers, advanced sales of Presley’s “Love Me Tender” single — the first song to sell more than a million albums — changed the title. This is Elvis’ first of 33 films (31 narrative movies and 2 concert films), which usually had a song featured within the film that gives the movie its name. This is the exception to the rule, which is why it is featured on this list.

Does the artist appear? Elvis wanted to be a serious actor that didn’t sing in his films. He even wanted to attend The Actor’s Studio. While he would tell interviewers that The Rainmaker would be his debut, but this was his first film and yes, he does sing.

Bad Romance (François Chang, 2011): Based on the Lady Gaga song, this movie has a major French influence and is titled Les Mauvais Romans, while the English title refers to the song that inspired its story.

Does the artist appear? No.

Ricochet Romance (Charles Lamont, 1954): With the tagline “That Ma Kettle girl’s got a brand new fella,” this didn’t even come at the end of the ten film Kettles series, as Ma and Pa Kettle at Waikiki, The Kettles in the Ozarks and The Kettles on Old MacDonald’s Farm would all come after this movie. Director Charles Lamont made five of those movies with the star of this movie, Marjorie Main.

Does the artist appear? Teressa Brewer sang the version that came out a year before this and she does not appear, although the song does.

Riders In the Sky (John English, 1949): Selected as the greatest Western song of all time by the Western Writers of America, this was originally a hit song for Vaughn Monroe. The songwriter, Stan Jones, also recorded a version, as did Burl Ives, Bing Crosby, The Sons of the Pioneers, Spike Jones, Scatman Crothers, The Ventures, Dick Dale, Tom Jones, Takeshi “Terry” Terauchi and Bunnys, Elvis Presley, Roy Clark, Johnny Cash, The Shadows, Outlaws, Disneyland After Dark, The Blues Brothers, Christopher Lee and so many more. This is the movie of the song, of course.

Does the artist appear? Gene Autry does, so I guess that qualifies.

Love Potion No. 9 (Dale Launer, 1992): Based on The Searcher’s 1959 hit, this romantic comedy has Tate Donovan and Sandra Bullock as co-workers who magically fall in love.

Does the artist appear? No.

Piange… il telefono (Lucio De Caro, 1975): The Domenico Modungo song that this movie is based on was inspired by based on Claude Francois’s 1974 hit “Le Téléphone Pleure.”

Does the artist appear? Yes, Modungo is the star of the film.

Mr. Unbelievable (Ong Kuo Sin, 2015): Eric Kwek Hock Seng (Chen Tianwen) was originally a character on a TV show called Spouse House whose song “Unbelievable” ended up becoming a viral hit in real life. This is the movie that tells the entire story of how he ended up adding English words to traditional Chinese songs with comedic effect.

Does the artist appear? Yes, Chen is the main actor in this.

Earth Girls Are Easy (Julien Temple, 1984): Based on a song on Julie Brown’s 1984 album Goddess in Progress, this musical also features another song from that album, “‘Cause I’m a Blonde.” Another song, “I Like ‘Em Big and Stupid” was cut from the film, which had numerous production issues due to director Temple’s obsession with details. That said, it’s a blast to watch even today.

Does the artist appear? Yes, Brown plays Candy Pink, the hairstylist who gives the aliens a full-body makeover.

God Bless the Broken Road (Harold Cronk, 2018): Loosely based on the song “Bless the Broken Road,” which has been recorded by everyone from the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and songwriter Marcus Hummond to — most famously — Rascal Flatts, this is a tale of a young mother who loses her husband and gains a race car driver while staying true to her faith. In short, exactly the kind of movies we watch on this site.

Does the artist appear? No, but the song is sung in the movie.

Humanap Ka ng Panget (Ben Feleo, 1990): Andrew E.’s debut song led to this film, which tells the story of three junk scrapping brothers who want to be rich.

Does the artist appear? Yes, Andrew E. plays one of the brothers.

Ein Lied von Liebe und Tod (Rolf Schübel, 1999): Taken from the novel of the same name by Nick Barkow, this movie tells the story of “Gloomy Sunday,” also known as the “Hungarian Suicide Song.” Best known in the U.S. thanks to the 1941 Billie Holiday cover, an urban legend claims that more people have killed themselves while listening to this song than any other. And here you thought it was “The Christmas Shoes.”

Does the artist appear? No.

Shuì zài wǒ shàng pù de xiōngdì (Stephen Zhang, 2016): Who Sleeps My Bro? is a Chinese coming of age tale based on a famous song.

Does the artist appear? No.


Karn Evil 9 (Michael Napoliello and Maria Frisk, producers 202?):  The 30-minute futuristic rock suite featured on British prog-rock legends Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s 1973 album Brain Salad Surgery — about man’s loss of humanity to technology — is in the process of being adapted into a feature film by Daniel H. Wilson of the best seller Robopocalypse.

Does the artist appear? No. Drummer Carl Palmer is the only surviving member.

Whew! Did we miss anything? Let us know!

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