Fame [1980]

Director: Alan Parker
Stars: Eddie Barth, Irene Cara, Lee Curreri, Laura Dean, Antonia Franceschi
Genre: Drama, Music, Musical
Rating: R (Restricted)
Runtime: 133 minutes

With graying baby boomers becoming key underwriters of viewer-supported television, a staid Public Broadcasting System grudgingly acknowledged the existence of rock & roll in the 1990s. The Moody Blues, via their somewhat heavy-handed, 1993 concert video A Night at Red Rocks, were among the first Woodstock generation acts to end up in constant rotation during affiliate pledge drives. The band's PBS follow-up, Hall of Fame, is an improvement overall. Taped at London's Royal Albert Hall early in 2000, the Moodies' more freewheeling performance this time mixes satisfying selections from their catalogue of hits from 1968 to 1972 with a few Top 40 entries released in the late '80s ("I Know You're Out There Somewhere," "Your Wildest Dreams"). The sheer pleasure of watching the core quartet of Ray Thomas, Justin Hayward, John Lodge, and Graeme Edge ease their way into Mellotron masterpieces from Days of Future Passed, as well as the trippy curiosity of "Legend of a Mind" and the dizzying pop mutations of "Ride My See-Saw," is a study in grace. Backed by the once-fictional London Festival Orchestra (credited as a key musical collaborator on Days), the band eschews grandiosity for a pointed but delicate yearning, and whips up its typically stately tone of cosmic romanticism. The frenzied joy of a mixed-age audience brings smiles to the Moodies' faces and a sometimes-unexpected vigor to their vocals--catch Ray Thomas's booming "Welllll!" during every chorus of "I'm Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)"--which helps to make this program a treat to watch repeatedly. --Tom Keogh

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