They called it "the devil's music." To this, Jerry Lee Lewis whooped: "If I'm going to hell, I'm going there playing the piano!" Dennis Quaid gives a "rousing performance" (Gene Shalit, "The Today Show") as the defiant rock 'n' roll superstar who broke all the rules. Co-starring Winona Ryder as Jerry Lee's teenage bride and Alec Baldwin as Jerry Lee's evangelical cousin Jimmy Swaggart, and featuring scorching piano and vocals re-recorded by the legendary Lewis himself, Great Balls of Fire! is a wild ride back to the early days of rock 'n' roll that will leave you "B-B-B-Breathless"! In 1956, Louisiana bad boy Jerry Lee Lewis (Quaid) moves to Memphis, determined to dethrone Elvis with his "ferocious, God-given talent." When Jerry Lee bangs out the bass chords with his feet,fans howl for more. When he finishes a performance by setting his piano ablaze, they mob the stage.But when he marries his 13-year-old second cousin Myra (Ryder)...the scandal nearly kills "The Killer's" career.
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Dennis Quaid's delightfully over-the-top performance dominates this 1989 biopic about the life, times, and music of rocker Jerry Lee "the Killer" Lewis. It's all here: his snazzy threads, his devil-may-care Southern charm, his mane of golden hair, his underage girlfriends (Lewis's infamous marriage to his 13-year-old cousin, played here by Winona Ryder, and its effect on his career is a big part of the story), his fascination with "the devil's music" (much to the chagrin of cousin Jimmy Swaggart, portrayed by Alec Baldwin), and of course the classic tunes like "Great Balls of Fire" and "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On." Director Jim McBride plays the whole thing broadly, for laughs, much like Quaid plays Lewis. The result is tongue-in-cheek entertainment with a strong musical component, made all the more so by the fact that all the singing and playing on the soundtrack is done by Lewis himself. --Sam Graham
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