Author(s): Michael / D.W. Dillon
Location: Oklahoma / Nevada
Directed by Phyllida Lloyd
Written by Rob Bettinson and Phyllida Lloyd
Adapted from the musical, "Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story"
Music by Paul McCartney and Sonny Curtis
Produced by Paul McCartney and Mark Huffam
Garrett Dillahunt as Buddy Holly
Dallas Roberts as Tommy Allsup
Jill Hennessey as Maria Elena Holly
Adam Beach as Ritchie Valens
Steven Harwell as J.P. "Big Bopper" Richardson
Tyler Hilton as Waylon Jennings
Curtis Holbrook as Carl Bunch
Aaron Ashmore as pilot, Roger Peterson
Gary Busey as road manager, Rod Lucier
Christian Hoff as Dion Dimucci
Tagline: "He was a musician. He was a pioneer. He was Rock 'n' Roll"
Synopsis: Winter Dance Party Tour, 1959. Four headlining rock 'n' roll acts packed into a rickety bus that would start in Chicago and make its way through the vast mid-west landscape, bringing rock 'n' roll to all the farmer's daughters and idolizing sons, such as youngster Bob Dylan. They came to see rock stars like Italian doo-wop sensation, Dion Dimucci (Christian Hoff), whose hits "Teenager in Love" and "I Wonder Why" geared their inhibitions. Followed by the loveable teddy bear of a disc-jockey turned rocker, J.P. "Big Bopper" Richardson (Steven Harwell) whose campy hit "Chantilly Lace" satisfied their rebellious mood. Chicano rock star Ritchie Valens (Adam Beach) brought 'em all to their feet as he would soar into the hard-strummed "La Bamba" and cascade into the swooning hit, "Donna". Valens' drummer hid in the background, barely noticeable in his dark horn-rimmed sunglasses. This tall and lanky beat-keeper was only filling in for the tour drummer Carl Bunch (Curtis Holbrook), who early on, suffered frost-bite of the feet because of the broken heater in the tour bus. As soon as Valens strummed his final chord, the mysterious drummer would make his way to the front of the stage. Gone were the sunglasses, donned now in his trademark nerdy-frames and sunburst Fender Stratocaster guitar, Buddy Holly (Garrett Dillahunt) let the music fly. Already a music legend to his peers, the overly mature Buddy began a medley of his hits without hesitation, break, or missed-note. His hiccupy accentuations of his lyrically driven songs, accompanied with his ferocious rhythm guitar-playing technique that influenced generations, was in all it's glory. The thrumping sounds of "Peggy Sue" to the roaring "Oh, Boy!” to the ballad "True Love Waits" that he would play every night for his wife Maria Elena (Jill Hennessey), as he would leave the stage telephone off the hook just so she could hear his serenade. He left no song uncovered from "That'll Be the Day" and "Everyday" to "Crying, Waiting, Hoping" and "Maybe Baby". Rock 'n' Roll filled the ballrooms with a raucous thunder of energy and joy. The off-stage tour on the other hand was a different story.
Enamored by Buddy's musical knowledge, Dion Dimucci eagerly grabbed a spot on the tour for the chance of spending time with someone like Buddy. Often sneaking off for a fix, his light-hearted drug habit seemed harmless. Both former street gang members, the Dion and Buddy formed a close brotherly bond, while J.P. "Big Bopper" Richardson showed Buddy's talented but nerve-filled bass player, Waylon Jennings (Tyler Hilton) the ropes of a hard-drinking party animal. Hoping to relieve Waylon of his on-stage jitters. Ritchie Valens on the other hand, was taken under the wing of Buddy, who was itching to produce his next album. The two big names sat in the middle of the frozen-dingy bus, strumming their guitars, playing everything from Mexican standards to rockabilly faves. Then there was Tommy Allsup (Dallas Roberts), session guitarist and Buddy's closest friend on the tour. He road on Buddy's star with admiration and loyalty only to succumb to alcohol abuse years later, due to an unforgettable tragedy that would plague his conscience. A tragedy that would lead future country star Waylon Jennings to the grave via the bottle and Dion to a serious and hard fought battle with heroin.
As Road Manager, Rod Lucier (Gary Busey) furiously tried to cancel up-coming shows due to the horrid traveling conditions the bus provided, alongside the non-stop snow flurries that lay ahead, Buddy was chartering a plane. Missing his bride, and wanting a warm place to sleep, he gathered up his band. Waylon gladly gave up his spot on the plane to his good friend, the Big Bopper, who had come down with a case of the flu, while Tommy flipped a coin with Ritchie who too was under the weather. Buddy, always the risk-taker would fly through hell if it meant getting into heaven, while Ritchie possessed a frightful obsession. Just minutes after take off, beyond recognition, the pilot (Aaron Ashmore) and three rock stars lay dead in a Iowa cornfield on February 3rd, 1959 on a day that would silence music.
"And I just want to say that when I was sixteen years old, I went to see Buddy Holly play at Duluth National Guard Armory and I was three feet away from him...and he LOOKED at me. And I just have some sort of feeling that he was---I don't know how or why---but I know he was with us all the time we were making this record in some kind of way." - Bob Dylan (Grammy acceptance speech for Album of the Year, 1998's "Time Out of Mind")
What the Press would say:
Filled with the music of Buddy and the fellow artists portrayed magnificently in the film, the short-lived Broadway jukebox musical Buddy, has finally made the jump to the big screen, and couldn't be better. Based on the life of rock and roll legend Buddy Holly, the magical film, directed wonderfully by Phyllida Lloyd (Mamma Mia!), who along with co-writer and director of the musical, Rob Bettinson comprises a script that smoothly transitions to the musical numbers so effortlessly. The script is told from the point of view of one of Holly’s closest friends, Tommy Allsup and makes the film and the script so original in its delivery. The acting is superb all around and Garrett Dillahunt is brilliant as the man with the glasses. He gives a glorious performance and Buddy and is proves he has what it takes to be the next big star. Dallas Roberts is phenomenal as guitarist Tommy Allsup and he hit the nail on the head in every scene he appeared in. His melancholic narrations are perfect and help the story transition so well, it is sure to give you chills. Christian Hoff also gives a tremendous performance as Dion and draws all of the attention to him and is a master at his craft. Yet another great performance comes from Gary Busey who has previously played Holly, this time as his road manager, Busey lights up the screen in his short notable performance. Besides Dillahunt however, the real performance to talk about is Miss Jill Hennessey as the wife of Buddy, Maria Elena. She is so perfect for the role and has amazing amounts of chemistry with Dillahunt and holds her own in such a luxurious ensemble.
From the costumes to the directing, this film is one of the best of all time and will definitely last longer than the musical it originated from. The performances are astounding, the screenplay is enchanting, and the direction is terrific. This motion picture is such a fitting tribute to the late star that will and should be remembered for decades to come.
Best Picture - Paul McCartney and Mark Huffam
Best Director - Phyllida Lloyd
Best Actor - Garrett Dillahunt
Best Supporting Actor - Dallas Roberts
Best Supporting Actor - Christian Hoff
Best Supporting Actor - Gary Busey
Best Supporting Actress - Jill Hennessey
Best Adapted Screenplay - Rob Bettinson and Phyllida Lloyd
Best Cinematography - Dariusz Wolski
Best Editing - Lesley Walker
Best Sound Editing - Steve Browell
Best Score - Paul McCartney and Sonny Curtis