Ball of Fire [1941]

Dennis Quaid's delightfully over-the-top performance dominates this 1989 biopic about the life, times, and music of rocker Jerry Lee "the Killer" Lewis. It's all here: his snazzy threads, his devil-may-care Southern charm, his mane of golden hair, his underage girlfriends (Lewis's infamous marriage to his 13-year-old cousin, played here by Winona Ryder, and its effect on his career is a big part of the story), his fascination with "the devil's music" (much to the chagrin of cousin Jimmy Swaggart, portrayed by Alec Baldwin), and of course the classic tunes like "Great Balls of Fire" and "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On." Director Jim McBride plays the whole thing broadly, for laughs, much like Quaid plays Lewis. The result is tongue-in-cheek entertainment with a strong musical component, made all the more so by the fact that all the singing and playing on the soundtrack is done by Lewis himself. --Sam Graham

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