Monday, July 28, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Girls With Guitars

Before The Runaways, rock music was mostly something boys played and girls watched. Then the "jailbait rockers" fronted by Cherie Currie and Joan Jett changed the game.

Girls With Guitars

Dakota Fanning (left) as Cherie Currie or "Cherry Bomb" fame and Kristen Stewart (right) as Joan Jett in "The Runaways"
Dakota Fanning (left) as Cherie Currie or "Cherry Bomb" fame and Kristen Stewart (right) as Joan Jett in "The Runaways"

Before The Runaways, rock music was mostly something boys played and girls watched. Then the "jailbait rockers" fronted by Cherie Currie and Joan Jett changed the game.

Come Friday, The Runaways, written and directed by music-video auteur Floria Sigismondi, recalls the emergence of the attitudinal gals,  Currie, the volatile cocktail of Bardot and Bowie, played by Dakota Fanning and Jett, the swaggering prankster, by Kristen Stewart.

During the film I flashed back to other movies about girls with guitars, including the gritty Runaways documentary Edgeplay (2004), by Vicki Tischler-Blue, onetime bass player for the defunct gal group.

In the early 1980s there was a burst of films about girl rockers, including the excellent Breaking Glass (1980) about an English punkette (Hazel O'Connor, backed up by junkie saxophonist Jonathan Pryce!), Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains (1982), starring Diane Lane as an antisocial teen who loses her shyness when she performs and Gillian Armstrong's delightful Starstruck (1982), starring Jo Kennedy as an Australian performance artist and singer riding the New Wave. (Starstruck is like a blueprint for Madonna's future career.) Some 20 years later came the bouncy Josie and the Pussycats (2001) about appealing musical teenagers (Rachael Lee Cook, Tara Reid, Rosario Dawson) who are used as a marketing tool and the more serious Prey for Rock and Roll (2003), with Gina Gershon as the lead singer of a girl grunge group waiting for its break.

I get a transgressive charge from these films about social transgressors. What am I missing? Your favorite rockchick flick?

Carrie Rickey Film Critic
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Carrie Rickey Film Critic
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