THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY

(1978)
With Gary Busey, Don Stroud, Charles Martin Smith, Conrad Janis, Maria Richwine
Directed by Steve Rash
Reviewed by JB

     Although it could have been much better with higher production values and more accurate research, THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY still works as a modestly entertaining little film thanks to the earnest performance by Gary Busey in the title role and the verisimilitude of the musical sequences.  Busey became a star, albeit one that never really took off, on the strength of his portrayal of the bespectacled, awkward Holly, one of the most gifted and innovative pop stars of the early days of rock and roll.  Don Stroud and Charles Martin Smith do well as two fictional crickets, and Maria Richwine makes for a very lovely Holly bride. 

     Along with Stroud on drums and Smith on bass, Busey sings and plays Holly's classic songs himself, and the results are uniformly excellent, with Busey's voice being close enough to Holly's to be convincing throughout.  Faithful, heartfelt recreations of memorable and melodic hits like "That'll Be the Day", "Every Day", "Maybe Baby" and "True Love Ways", though sometimes ragged, make for a superb soundtrack.

     Like tejano singer Selena of the '90s, Buddy Holly's tragic early death left scriptwriter's without much to work with.  His too-short life does not provide the necessary for a truly great biographical film.  Yet, like the film SELENA, THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY works because of the performance of its lead, a good supporting cast, and the quality of the music. ½ - JB

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IS THAT WHO I THINK IT IS?

Matthew "Stymie" Beard,  of Our Gang/Little Rascals fame, has a small part in this film.

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