Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Almost Famous By Cameron Crowe Turns 10

Almost FamousIn 1973, Cameron Crowe was living an American dream reserved for people twice his age at the time. He was 16 years old and asked to take a three-week assignment covering the Allman Brothers Band for Rolling Stone.

It was a rare chance to meet his heroes, share in their experiences, and even fall in love. His story was so captivating in the telling that he always knew it would make a great film some day. And that day came in 2000 with Almost Famous.

Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction In Almost Famous.

Crowe says Stillwater, the fictional band in the film, is a culmination of his Rolling Stone experiences with bands like Poco, Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. But some experiences are amazingly similar. For instance, Crowe does share that Greg Allman did confiscate all his tapes in an unexpected fit of paranoia.

The loss could have cost him more than the cover story. As a first major assignment, it could have cost him a career. Fortunately, Crowe says that Allman's label eventually returned the tapes with an apology from Allman. In the movie, William Miller (played by Patrick Fugit) loses his tapes to Russell Hammond (played by Billy Crudup) until Hammond later returns them in person.

The plot line is largely overshadowed by another, as Miller becomes infatuated with Penny Lane (one of Kate Hudson's most endearing performances), a band groupie with her sights set on Hammond. Their chance meeting at a Black Sabbath concert (Lane helps William into the concert to review it for an underground publication) sparks a friendship that nurtures Miller's love-hate relationship with Hammond.

The film is remarkably accurate in its depiction of the 1970s. One fan captures some of the essence in this short clip, featuring Elton John's Tiny Dancer.

The scene takes place shortly after one of several memorable moments in the film. The night before, Hammond had taken acid, climbed on the roof of a house and asked William to quote his last words as "I am a golden god! ... "I'm on drugs!"

The Film That Almost Wasn't Famous.

Almost Famous wasn't always the sure bet that it seems to have been today. It had to work for every opportunity. It only opened in 131 theaters nationwide, but still managed to break into the top eight films.

When it received a green light for wide distribution, that number quickly grew to 1,193 screens. It eventually reached 2,262 screens and went on to earn $32 million in domestic sales after finding its groove against theaters filled with Gladiator, Erin Brockovich, and Traffic.

It received an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and Kate Hudson was nominated for best supporting actress. You can find a complete list of awards here.

Almost Famous Catches A 9.1 On The Liquid Hip Ritcher Scale.

Two other outstanding cameos almost deserve attention: Rainn Wilson who played David Felton (Wilson's second film) and Philip Seymour Hoffman who played Lester Bangs (as a follow-up to The Talented Mr. Ripley). Both appearances remind film goers how much depth the movie had.

Almost Famous is available on iTunes. Almost Famous - The Director's Cut on Amazon includes 36 minutes of additional footage (mostly centered around Penny Lane), a Stillwater CD, and the infamous Stairway To Heaven deleted scene that asks you to cue up your own audio. (The original version is also included.)

The latter is priceless enough that more people who gave the original a 9, gave the extended version a 10. And at least one fan believes that had the additional 36 minutes been retained, Hudson would have had her Oscar. I can't disagree.
blog comments powered by Disqus