I haven’t seen Great Balls of Fire since it was on video in 1989, so when I saw it was coming out on Blu-ray I wanted to see how it held up in a post Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story world. The jazz club where people dance erotically and the record exec with an instant hit record certainly represent tropes of the musician biopic.
Dennis Quaid really captures the wildman showmanship of Jerry Lee Lewis. Marrying a 13-year-old (Winona Ryder, 18 at the time) is bad even if they weren’t related, even in the ‘50s. It’s what the whole second half of the movie is about, amazingly not in a heavy handed way. It’s more of an exasperated “how did you not expect this to be a problem, Jerry Lee?” Even when he gets abusive during the downfall.
The Blu-ray looks great. It still has the softness of ‘80s 35mm film but it’s clear and bright. The ‘40s speakeasy oozes sexuality and ‘50s pastels look like Edward Scissorhands, only it’s actually the era of that look. Big concerts and TV appearances capture the glamour, and Lewis’s red and yellow suits pop. Some good classic car porn, all mint and shiny.
There are no bonus features except the trailer. Great Balls of Fire wasn’t popular enough to get a special edition, but it is a great transfer preserving this curiosity of the musician biopic genre.