The Buddy Holly Story

The basket of deplorables isn’t exactly teeming with actors, but two fervent Donald Trump fans are Kristy Swanson and Gary Busey, who played Buffy and Buddy (Holly) respectively. There emerges in this bully’s supporters a pattern, which makes me view Bucky from the Captain America movies with renewed suspicion…

The ’50s were huge in the ’70s, much like the ’80s are now, much to the bemusement of those sorry few who remember the ’80s first time round. This 1978 music biopic is carried by an Oscar-nominated performance by the Gingerdead Man himself Gary Busey, who lost the Best Actor award to Coming Home‘s Jon Voight, who also happens to be a vocal Trump supporter.

Incidentally, isn’t it about time the Academy introduced some sort of penalty system, whereby you stand to have your Oscar taken away should you disprove it somehow? It would make actors think more carefully before signing on to Anaconda or Jupiter Ascending. That’ll be the day…

It’s fitting that the writer of so many rock standards would be served by a standard rock movie, from Holly’s servile wife (Maria Elena Santiago) to the scene where the band gets its name The Crickets, after their rehearsal is interrupted by one. We should be thankful that it was a cricket rather than, say, a paedophile hiding in the garage that day in Lubbock, Texas, or the history of pop music might look very different indeed.

The picture is good fun but quite undramatic, with nothing remotely bad happening to Holly, ending as it does before his fatal plane crash. It also omits the fact that Holly, along with Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper, only chose to charter a plane that night in order to get to Minnesota early enough to do their laundry. Perhaps that was too unglamorous a detail to include in a rock ‘n’ roll movie, but it might have given the film some more personality.

In the song ‘American Pie’, Don McLean called that tragedy “the day the music died”, and this movie makes it clear why. The concert scenes are so well executed as to capture Holly’s star power and songwriting genius. These sequences have the epochal electricity and early rock ‘n’ roll urgency of Great Balls of Fire!, with none of the ickiness. Busey looks and sounds, as Weezer might say, just like Buddy Holly, complete with iconic stance and glasses. He performs all the songs live, and with all that practising Gary must have been busey.

Ironically, The Buddy Holly Story‘s budding Hollywood director Steve Rash would go from this Oscar-winning debut to a rash of recent straight-to-DVD high school movies, including American Pie Presents: Band Camp. So poetic… another promising career down in flames.

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