The Film of the Song

The Film of the Song is a rare sister of The Film of the Book or The Book of the Film. Bonus points if the song in question is NOT used in the movie soundtrack.

There are numerous examples of The Film of the Book. Incidentally, since songs tend to be short and sweet, rarely are films made from songs. So if it does happen, it's all the more interesting.

Note that this is restricted to feature-length films or films that take the actual plot from the song - music videos don't count, as they are more or less an illustration of the song itself, not standalone media in their own right.

There are 3 subtypes:

  • Type A - Classic The X Of The Y: An expansion of the song's content into a movie.
  • Type B - Song Name The Movie: Named for a song, but not related by content; likely it's to capitalize on a recent hit
  • Type C - Their Greatest Hit The Movie: A Biopic of a notable singer, the movie is named for one of the singer's hits. Biopics named after the singer or band themselves don't count.

Examples - Type A (The X Of The Y):

  • Alice's Restaurant
  • The Black Fly Song, made into cartoon Blackfly
  • Born in East L.A.
  • The Cat Came Back
  • Convoy
  • Frosty The Snowman was a song before it was a television special.
  • The Erl King
  • The Gambler turned into an entire series of Made-for-TV movies starring Kenny Rogers.
  • Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer
  • Harper Valley PTA, which later became a TV show.
  • I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
  • Is There Life Out There, a 1994 CBS TV movie starring Reba McEntire, based on her 1992 song of the same name
  • The Indian Runner
  • Jolene
  • The Legend of Tom Dooley
  • The Log Driver's Waltz
  • Ode to Billy Joe
  • Purple People Eater
  • Rovaniemen markkinoilla, a Finnish 1951 film based on a song by the same name. It was the Genre Popularizer for the Rillumarei film and live entertainment genre that drew from the musical couplet genre of light, cleverly written, often satirical songs. Many of these films were based on an existing song, or a song was specifically written to be the foundation of a film.
  • Yellow Submarine: A bit of a borderline case, as it does expand on the song and illustrates it at the same time.
  • Santa, Baby!, an animated Christmas special starring Eartha Kitt, the original performer of the song.

Counterexamples that you might expect to be this, only they aren't:

X Of Y that are very close to this:

  • Arguably, The Hunting of the Snark musical by Jeff Beck is a close relative, as it's "The Musical of the Poem".
  • Also, film versions of ancient epics, such as The Odyssey or The Divine Comedy, would apply, since the original is essentially a very long song.
  • Linear (2009), a 58-minute film by Anton Corbijn, is effectively "The Film of the Album" of U2's No Line on the Horizon (2009), featuring 10 of the 11 songs from the album and one other song that was cut from the final album. Corbijn has insisted that the film is not an extended music video, but rather "a new way to listen to a record — a new way to use film to connect to music," making it an example of this.

Examples - Type B (Song Name The Movie):

Examples - Type C (Their Greatest Hit The Movie)

  • Beyond The Sea: about Bobby Darin.
  • Coal Miner's Daughter: about Loretta Lynn
  • De-Lovely, about Cole Porter.
  • Great Balls Of Fire: about Jerry Lee Lewis
  • La Bamba: about Ritchie Valens
  • Walk The Line: about Johnny Cash
  • Sweet Dreams: about Patsy Cline
  • I'm Your Man: Not quite a Biopic. Leonard Cohen interviews and singers such as Rufus and Martha Wainwright or Antony performing Cohen's songs
  • What's Love Got to Do with It: about Tina Turner
  • Straight Outta Compton: About the members of N.W.A.