Go, Johnny, Go!
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Restored from the original negative: Rock’n’roll changed 1950s America at 45 revolutions per minute and the swinging-est of the rock’n’roll movies was the electrifying Go, Johnny, Go!. Hung on the loose storyline of “King of Rock’n’roll” Alan Freed’s search for the next big star are way-out performances by all-time greats Chuck Berry, Ritchie Valens, Eddie Cochran, Jimmy Clanton, Jackie Wilson and many more. SPECIAL FEATURES: Commentary by Richard M. Roberts, Randy Skretvedt, and Brent Walker - Original Theatrical Trailer
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This is arguably the best of the 1950's rock films, with Chuck Berry, Jimmy Clanton, Alan Freed, Ritche Valens, Eddie Cochran, Jackie Wilson, Jo Ann Campbell, The Flamingos, and others. There's also an audio commentary track featuring three Hal Roach Studio experts who also know a lot about old rock and roll. It's a freewheeling, fun-filled track with tons of movie and music trivia about the film, its place in the history of the Hal Roach Studio, and the late fifties era that spawned the film.
If you love this film, or have never seen it, this is absolutely the best available print. Maybe this should also be released as a Blu-ray?
This DVD is something of a dream come true. For those familiar with such things, GO, JOHNNY, GO was probably the best of the handful of rock 'n' roll movies with which Alan Freed was heavily involved (I don't count ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK on that list, as he didn't play a big role either in or on the movie). Now, admittedly, that's not a very high bar to get over, but this picture is kind of it, in terms of the quality of the acts and the importance of some of the on-screen performances. (I've even seen it in a theater, about 25 years ago here in New York, paired -- appropriately enough -- with AMERICAN HOT WAX, and it does hold up for exactly what it is, a five-day-shot B-movie that is loads and loads of fun). And Sprocket Vault has become the first DVD company to do this movie justice -- there are a lot of lesser editions out there, mostly burned DVD editions, that I've been loathe to acquire, but this one I took a chance on, and it paid off and then some.
Back in the 1980s, there was a better-than-decent laserdisc of this movie out from Image Entertainment that didn't do much more than present GO, JOHNNY, GO, albeit quite well for the time. I'd always hoped that Criterion would have gotten hold of the title and that I -- and I did plenty of these for them, on laserdisc and DVD -- might do a commentary, and treat this movie right. (Okay, it's not a classic, but let's say its a better movie -- as pure entertainment -- than, say, HELP!). Well, Sprocket Vault has pretty much done that with a fine transfer and a superb audio commentary track by Richard M. Roberts, Randy Skretvedt, and Brent Walker, who allow us in on the best time talking over the music, the movie, the director (the underrated Paul Landres), the actors, the shooting, the studio that made it (the picture was the last feature film produced directly by Hal Roach Studios), and almost everything else connected with this movie, and with the rock 'n' roll era and, especially, Alan Freed. It's an absolute wonder, and it makes this DVD worth at least three times what the list price is, and an essential acquisition by anyone who loves the music and the era represented. These guys love the stuff they're dealing with in their talk (which is often very funny, too, and always entertaining), and if you aren't already in that camp when you start listening, you will be when they're done.
Thank you, Sprocket Vault, and Mssrs. Roberts, Skretvedt, and Walker, and especially Kit Parker, the man behind Sprocket Vault -- more like this, and I'm signing on for the whole schedule of releases.
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...and not enough of that.