I have always noticed that it’s only a matter of time before a successful singer succumbs to the lure of cinema. Music history has various examples of successful singers who have tried, with various results, unleashing their acting chops on the unsuspecting audiences.
First up is Elvis Presley with 31 fiction features. Each was a box office success for the sheer reason that it was an Elvis Presley film. Viva Las Vegas (1964) is the most successful film of the lot. Although he wasn’t a great actor, his presence in the films was enough.
The Beatles made a few madcap films too. They were never intended to be serious films. Of the five which were released A Hard Day’s Night (1964) and Help! (1965) were most successful, the latter had some semblance of a story and plot.
Names that matter
Mick Jagger dabbled in some really good ones too. The 1968 Nicholas Roeg film Performance and the 1970 film Ned Kelly in which he played the lead character.
Although his ‘band’ keeps him busy most of the time, he has a production company which dabbles in the odd film from time to time. And Bob Dylan’s only film appearance remains the 1973 Sam Peckinpah directed, classic western Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid.
Barbara Streisand appeared in successful films like Hello Dolly (1969),Yentl (1983), The Mirror has Two Faces (1996), as did Frank Sinatra (Anchors Aweigh, 1943), From Here to Eternity (1953), Von Ryan’s Express (1965), The First Deadly Sin (1980).
Even 1970s country rock superstar Kris Kristofferson has done tons of films, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973), Flashpoint (1980) and Blade (1998) to name a few.
Cher made her mark as an actress amongst films like Mask (1985), Moonstruck (1987) and Mermaids (1990). Beyonce Knowles, after becoming successful with her band Destiny’s Child, went solo and subsequently acted in movies like the musical Dreamgirls and now Cadillac Records. Not to mention the odd appearances in films like Austin Powers Goldmember.
Over the last 20 years singers like Madonna (Desperately Seeking Susan, 1985, Dick Tracy, 1990, Evita, 1996, and Die Another Day, 2002), Jennifer Lopez (Selena, 1997, Out of Sight,1998, Maid in Manhattan, 2002, Monster-in-Law, 2005) and Justin Timberlake (Alpha Dog, Southland Tales, 2006, The Love Guru 2008) are a few who have cultivated their singing and acting careers together, with variable results.
All of the above is excluding the various singers and performers, through music history, who have made many film appearances in cameos and guest roles otherwise.
So, the see-saw continues, of actors who sing and singers who act, with success being relative to the creativity applied.
But all in all, it gives the ardent fan another facet of the personality to enjoy and be entertained with and that can only be a good thing…if I may say so.