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For Mick Jagger's 70th Birthday, The Ten Best Rock Movies Ever

07/25/2013 04:34 pm ET | Updated Sep 24, 2013

Thank you, Mick, or er, Sir Mick, or, uh, Mr. Jagger. Or whatever it is you'd have me call you.

Thank you for a virtual lifetime of great music. I've been listening now on a pretty regular basis for oh -- about half a century.

What was the first song I heard on the old WABC-AM station in Manhattan -- was it "Not Fade Away"?

I have never met you, but I did have the next best thing happen. I met Keith Richards.

He was going for the same cab I was in New York City about a hundred years ago, and I let him have it, for which he was most appreciative. "Shucks, it's nothing, Keith. Er -- Mr. Richards," I said.

Anyhow, you, Sir Mick Jagger, are turning 70 tomorrow, which -- to use the rock vernacular -- blows my mind.

And you're still making and playing music the old fashioned way: raw, authentic rock 'n' roll- which in your case came from a fanatical love for, and immersion in, American blues music.

You and Keith, Eric Clapton, John Mayall, and others -- sitting at a safe remove in the then-very-white United Kingdom, took the music created by African-Americans here, and put your own distinctive stamp on it.

And though some people doubted it when you started all those years ago, thanks to giants like you, rock 'n' roll has endured, and -- dare I say it -- will never die. (Hey, hey, my, my.)

And though you were bright enough outside the musical sphere to attend the London School of Economics, you chose music. And you've never stopped doing what you do best. Which is making us remember why we all love this thing called rock in the first place.

To mark your milestone, I'm picking my favorite movies with rock 'n' roll themes. Some are narrative, some are docs, some pure concert films. But these are the ones I'd take with me into the bomb shelter, if the Cold War was still happening, as it certainly was when you and Keith began composing.

And if it means anything to you, I still tear up when I hear the opening strains of "Angie."

Happy Birthday!

A Hard Day's Night (1964)- Richard Lester's brilliant pseudo-doc captured Beatlemania in all its excitement and immediacy just as it was hitting us full-throttle. This first real introduction to the Fab Four remains fresh and tuneful to this day.

Bob Dylan: Don't Look Back (1965)- D.A Pennebaker's incredible doc captures a gutsy Dylan on the rocky British tour when he first sacrificed his folk roots and picked up an electric guitar. A riveting glimpse into the mind and spirit of a great artist- and very private human being.

Gimme Shelter (1970)- In this searing work, the Maysles take us through all the planning leading up to the Stones' infamous Altamont concert and then chronicle the actual event. We watch in horror as a violent death in the crowd brings the decade of free love and flower power to a dark, ominous close.

Elvis: That's The Way It Is (1970)- Here is the King just as his movie career is winding down, and before the drugs and binge eating have taken their toll. Elvis, looking and sounding great, performs in Vegas to a crowd of adoring fans. It would never be the same again.

American Graffiti (1973)- George Lucas's funny, evocative, bittersweet coming-of-age story, set in 1962, takes us back to the days of sock-hops and drag races, all set to a stellar early rock 'n' roll soundtrack.

The Buddy Holly Story (1978)- Gary Busey is terrific portraying the wildly talented Holly, who perished in a plane crash just as he was hitting new heights of success -- an event which Don McLean called "the day the music died." A fascinating look at the pivotal moment when rock 'n' roll was becoming a huge popular and cultural force.

The Last Waltz (1978)- Martin Scorsese captures The Band's farewell concert in 1976, at San Francisco's Winterland Arena. Guests include Muddy Watters, Neil Young, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, and Bob Dylan. My pick for the best concert movie ever; any and every true rock fan should see it.

This Is Spinal Tap (1984)- Rob Reiner's hilarious, inspired mockumentary spoofing the crazy world of rock'n' roll and all the rock docs that had gone before. In particular, Michael McKean and Christopher Guest are side-splitting as feuding band mates.

The Commitments (1991)- Don't miss Alan Parker's sweet, affectionate, and swinging tribute to rock (and its roots in the blues). The film follows the formation of a rock/R&B band in Dublin. Highlight: Colm Meaney as the band leader's Dad, who only has ears for Elvis!

Almost Famous (2000)- Cameron Crowe's brilliant take on rock 'n' roll life on the road, based on his own early experiences working for Rolling Stone. Among a stellar cast, the stand-out is Kate Hudson as groupie Penny Lane. She and Frances McDormand (fabulous as always) both received Oscar nods, as did Crowe for his screenplay.

Looking for good movies to watch? Top movie recommendations? For over 2,500 of the best movies on DVD, visit Best Movies by Farr.

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