The summer blockbuster movie season is upon us, and we’ve got movies on the mind after thinking about some of the best Gretsch moments that have graced the silver screen over the years.
From rock to country to rockabilly, bands both real and fictitious have reached for Gretsch instruments, whether electric or acoustic.
So with that in mind, here are five great Gretsch moments from feature films:
Crazy Heart, 2009: This gem follows the exploits of 57-year-old country singer Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges), who is down on his luck and performing at bars and bowling alleys during the cigarette-stained and booze-fueled twilight of his career.
But while at a show in Santa Fe, N.M., he meets a reporter (Maggie Gyllenhall) who is interested in doing a story on him. Over time, she and her son become sort of a family to the artist, and he is inspired to try to get his life and career back on track, especially after reconnecting with his former touring partner Tommy Sweet (Colin Farrell).
Tender Mercies, 1983: The venerable Robert Duvall plays Mac Sledge, a washed-up, alcoholic country artist who comes out of a bender at a Texas motel, offering to work for the owner in exchange for a room. Of course, the owner is a widow who eventually marries the newly-sober singer.
The Gretsch kicker is the fact that she has a son named Sonny who gets an impromptu guitar lesson from Sledge, who pulls out his Rancher acoustic guitar in the kitchen.
Rattle and Hum, 1988: Recounting U2’s North American tour of 1987, Rattle and Hum is a perfect representation of their huge album of the same name. And keep in mind, the Irishmen were coming off their best-selling effort Joshua Tree, so there weren’t many bigger bands on the touring scene at that point.
While on the road, U2 takes side trips to play with blues legend B.B. King and to perform “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” with a church choir.
A highlight of the film comes when the band rehearses a version of the track “Desire.” The black-and-white clip showcases guitarist Edge rocking a Gretsch White Falcon during the rambling hit.
Daydream Believers: The Monkees Story, 2000: This made-for-TV movie was originally broadcast on VH1 and hit the broad points of the similarly made-for-TV pop rock band the Monkees.
It’s kind of a trip to see actors who looked just like Mickey, Michael, Peter and Davy, just like it is to see the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix impersonators in the flick. Still, the scenes where the (faux) Monkees are actually playing their hits feature a lot of Gretsch action, which holds true to the real thing.
Cry-Baby, 1990: Any movie with Iggy Pop in it has to be rockin’, right? Cry-Baby was no different. The John Waters-directed film stars Johnny Depp as Wade “Cry-Baby” Walker, the leader of a wild gang that calls themselves “Drapes.” But conflict arises when Walker and Allison, a “square,” fall in love and are challenged by the relationship taboos of 1950’s Baltimore.
Depp’s Walker was also a pretty wreckless rockabilliy musician, especially when he donned his Gretsch Synchromatic Archtop. Watch Depp play that guitar on the track “King Cry-Baby” in the clip below.