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Hitsville: the Making of Motown

  • Documentary
  • 2019
  • Benjamin Turner
  • 111 mins
  • 12A
    More info: UK: Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over (unless accompanied by an adult)

Summary

Rare performances, interviews and rarely seen footage come together to paint a picture of the history and origins of Motown.

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Review

Rating: 3 out of 5.

This documentary is an unabashedly self-congratulatory profile of Detroit's soulful, civil-rights-defying Motown label, focusing in particular on its unimpeachable late-1950s/60s glory years before founder Berry Gordy relocated operations to Los Angeles. Gordy and former in-house genius Smokey Robinson act as irrepressible tour guides, burnishing anecdotes in the former clapboard shack that's now a museum. Realised using smart graphics by Brit co-directors Benjamin and Gabe Turner, Hitsville gladly exploits Motown's extant icons (Martha Reeves, Abdul "Duke" Fakir, various Jacksons), whose trotted-out testimony is knitted into captivating live footage. There's also remarkable audio of an actual Motown "quality control" meeting from June 1967, when Top 10 hit Ain't No Mountain High Enough is about to be joined in the charts by the Supremes, Four Tops, Stevie Wonder and the Temptations. Gordy's rift with Diana Ross and Michael Jackson's later issues are airbrushed out of the story, but when songwriters Holland-Dozier-Holland describe themselves as "a factory within a factory", it's not facetious. (Gordy's corporate maxims included "competition breeds champions" and "innovate or stagnate".) When the records sound like Get Ready and Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours, who's complaining?

How to Watch

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On demand

Details

Theatrical distributor
Altitude
Released on
2019-10-04
Language
English
Guidance
racist language
Available on
DVD and Blu-ray
Formats
Colour

Credits

Cast

rolename
Berry GordyBerry Gordy Jr
Smokey RobinsonSmokey Robinson
John LegendJohn Legend
Lamont DozierLamont Dozier
Jamie FoxxJamie Foxx
Neil YoungNeil Young (1)
Martha ReevesMartha Reeves

Crew

rolename
DirectorBenjamin Turner
DirectorGabe Turner
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