Hype, Johnny, Hype!

Anticipating From Justin To Kelly by some forty years, this movie is nothing more than an excuse to promote some musical acts and cash in on the disposable income of America's youth.

There's a plot - it's about as thin as a tissue with anorexia, but it's there. Yet it's so unnecessary that the whole thing is told in flashback, with the outcome already known.

The film is the brainchild of promoter Alan Freed, who apparently had some acts to promote. Freed was a pivotal figure in rock and roll history, bringing many important acts to the national stage (many seen performing in this film), but also going down in the payola scandals not long after this film came out. He plays himself, as a kind of hipster father figure trying to give talented people the exposure they so rightly deserve. In this case, it's the mysterious Johnny Melody whose potential celebrity he needs to save - but first he has to find out who he is.

If it's not clear yet, I don't have much respect for such a trumped up and self-serving storyline. The real value of this film is obviously historical - a glimpse at the fledgling modern recording industry and the foundations of hype and advertising that goes into it. Many of the acts are still household names today, and certainly there is talent to go around - musically, at least. If this were a concert video, or merely a documentary made at the time, it might be half-bad, but the pretense of a plot is simultaneously indulged (too many scenes of emotional handwringing) and insincere (the plot is forgotten the moment any song begins) - the movie barely stands on its own terms.

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