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Originally published April 24, 2014 at 10:52 AM | Page modified April 24, 2014 at 10:58 AM

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12 best musical biopics | The List

With a nod to SIFF’s recently announced opening-night movie, “Jimi: All Is By My Side,” a list of 12 top musical biopics, from “Young Man With a Horn” (1950) to “La Vie en Rose” (2007).


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Good list. I think The Buddy Holly Story, for which Gary Busey received an Oscar nomination, should be on the list. ... MORE
Yes, I agree. The Buddy Holly Story Story is a great movie. Overall, this list is very strong and will be fun to watch.... MORE
"Lady Sings the Blues," in which Diana Ross plays Billie Holliday, should be here. Ross did not try to sound like... MORE

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In a nod to SIFF, which announced this week that a biographical movie about Jimi Hendrix will kick off this year’s film festival on May 15, we list our top 12 musical biopics.

‘Young Man with a Horn’

Can you say “Bix Beiderbecke biopic” three times fast? Kirk Douglas stars as a blazing but troubled jazz cornetist, here called Rick Martin (1950).

‘Stars and Stripes Forever’

March right out and get this 1952 film, in which Clifton Webb plays John Philip Sousa.

‘The Glenn Miller Story’

James Stewart stars as the eponymous big bandleader, who met an untimely end in an airplane crash during World War II (1954).

‘The Benny Goodman Story’

The famed clarinetist recorded most of the solos used in this 1956 film treatment of his life, featuring Steve Allen and Donna Reed.

‘Coal Miner’s Daughter’

Sissy Spacek won an Academy Award for her remarkable portrayal of Loretta Lynn in this 1980 Michael Apted film.

‘Amadeus’

This best-picture Oscar winner was adapted in 1984 from a play about the wayward, wunderkind composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

‘Sweet Dreams’

Jessica Lange delivered a terrific performance as Patsy Cline in this 1985 drama, which — like “The Glenn Miller Story” — ends with a tragic plane crash.

‘Sid and Nancy’

The saga of the Sex Pistols’ Sid Vicious and girlfriend Nancy Spungen ranks with the biggest rock ‘n’ roll flameout stories of all time (1986).

‘Great Balls of Fire!’

Goodness, gracious, Dennis Quaid is great as rock ’n’ roll pioneer Jerry Lee Lewis in this 1989 movie.

‘Ray’

Jamie Foxx took the best-actor Oscar for his uncanny depiction of Ray Charles (2004).

‘Walk the Line’

Joaquin Phoenix put his own spin on Johnny Cash’s tunes, playing the Man in Black in his formative years (2005).

‘La Vie en Rose’

And another Oscar goes to ... Marion Cotillard, for her passionate portrayal of the tragic chanteuse, Edith Piaf (2007).

Seattle Times staff



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