November 09, 1987 12:00 PM


In a business where hype is the norm, this rockumentary is refreshingly understated. There’s no need to exaggerate when even the legendary likes of Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton and Keith Richards act like awestruck devotees. Springsteen says he learned to write lyrics by listening to Berry, while Clapton adds, “There’s not a whole lot of ways to play rock ‘n’ roll other than the way Chuck plays it.” Director Taylor (An Officer and a Gentleman, White Nights) Hackford lets Berry reminisce about his musical past for the first hour, then shows him preparing for and performing at his 60th-birthday concert held in October 1986 at the Fox Theater in St. Louis, Berry’s birthplace. Don’t expect any quick-cutting music-video version of what amounts to The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Part I. Hackford just lets his cameras roll—and the film rocks. (PG)

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