Great Balls of Fire!

Nice Balls of Hearth! is a 1989 American biographical movie directed by Jim McBride and starring Dennis Quaid as rockabilly pioneer Jerry Lee Lewis. Primarily based on a biography by Myra Lewis and Murray M. Silver Jr., the screenplay is written by McBride and Jack Baran. The movie is produced by Adam Fields, with govt producers credited as Michael Grais, Mark Victor, and Artwork Levinson.[3]

The early profession of Jerry Lee Lewis, from his rise to rock and roll stardom to his controversial marriage to his 13-year-old cousin that led to his downfall, is depicted within the movie. Till the scandal of the wedding depreciated his picture, many had thought Lewis would supplant Elvis Presley because the “King of Rock and Roll” within the Fifties.


Jerry Lee Lewis (Quaid) performs piano (versus a guitar like most different rock artists) throughout rock and roll’s early years from 1956 to 1958. Jerry Lee is a person with many various sides: a talented performer with little self-discipline, and an alcoholic. As Jerry Lee rises to the highest of the charts with such hits as “Loopy Arms”, “Entire Lotta Shakin’ Goin On”, and “Nice Balls of Hearth”, he falls in love with Myra Gale Brown (Winona Ryder), the 13-year-old daughter of his first cousin (and bass participant) J. W. Brown (John Doe), and ultimately marries her (eloping to Mississippi), a lot to the anger and chagrin of her dad and mom.

A subplot offers with Jerry Lee’s relationship with one other cousin, (now-televangelist) Jimmy Swaggart (Alec Baldwin), who, throughout this era, was a struggling Pentecostal preacher. Jimmy’s profession stored him in fixed battle along with his cousin’s wild rock and roll profession and brings out some uncomfortable exchanges between the 2. The now-financially profitable Jerry Lee buys a brand new automobile and provides it to his cousin, and when Jimmy praises the Lord for the reward, Jerry Lee replies, “Do not thank Jesus, thank Jerry Lee Lewis!”

Whereas Jerry Lee is touring in England in 1958, a British reporter discovers he’s married to his teenage cousin. Jerry Lee is then condemned as a baby molester and a pervert by the general public. Jerry Lee is booed and ridiculed off stage at his opening live performance; and consequently, his British tour is cancelled and he’s deported from England. Assured that his profession will stay a hit, Jerry Lee is undaunted; nonetheless, the scandal follows him again to the States.

Jerry Lee then begins consuming closely when file gross sales and live performance attendances are considerably down. He turns into livid when requested to print a public apology in Billboard and turns into more and more abusive towards Myra. It’s throughout considered one of these abusive episodes that Myra informs Jerry Lee that she is pregnant, and he collapses into Myra’s arms, crying hysterically.

In a last-ditch effort to enhance his life, Jerry Lee, with Myra in tow, attends considered one of Swaggart’s church companies. Through the altar name, Jimmy presents Jerry Lee another likelihood to grow to be saved and get proper with God; however Jerry Lee once more refuses, declaring, “If I’ll hell, I am going there taking part in the piano!” The caption previous the closing credit reads, “Jerry Lee Lewis is taking part in his coronary heart out someplace in America tonight.”


  • Dennis Quaid as Jerry Lee Lewis
  • Winona Ryder as Myra Gale Brown
  • John Doe as J. W. Brown
  • Stephen Tobolowsky as Jud Phillips
  • Trey Wilson as Sam Phillips
  • Alec Baldwin as Jimmy Swaggart
  • Steve Allen as Himself
  • Lisa Blount as Lois Brown
  • Joshua Sheffield as Rusty Brown
  • Mojo Nixon as James Van Eaton
  • Jimmie Vaughan as Roland Janes
  • David R. Ferguson as Jack Clement
  • Robert Lesser as Alan Freed
  • Michael St. Gerard as Elvis Presley
  • Lisa Jane Persky as Babe
  • Peter Cook dinner as British reporter
  • Jerry Lee Lewis (credited as “The Killer Himself”) carried out vocals and piano


The story was co-written by Myra Gale Lewis (her autobiography Nice Balls of Hearth!), the previous spouse of Jerry Lee Lewis, with Murray Silver. Regardless of this, co-writer Silver was upset by the shortage of accuracy within the movie, claiming it was “phoney”. Director Jim McBride admitted that it was by no means his intention to tie his movie to the information, and acknowledged, “This film doesn’t symbolize itself in any method to be a historic documentary. We use the ebook as a jumping-off level.”

Lewis has brazenly acknowledged that he hates the movie and the ebook it was primarily based on.[4] He did, nonetheless, reward Quaid’s portrayal of him within the movie, saying “he actually pulled it off”.[5] Quaid even discovered to play “Lewis-style” piano for the function.

This was the ultimate movie of character actor Trey Wilson. He died at age forty from a cerebral hemorrhage in January 1989, previous to the movie’s launch.[6][7][8]

Filming places

The movie was shot on location in Marion, Arkansas, Memphis, Tennessee, and West Memphis, Arkansas.


Essential response

Roger Ebert, movie critic for the Chicago Solar-Instances, didn’t just like the movie due to its screenplay, and wrote, “It is a simpleminded rock ‘n’ roll historical past by which the pleasures are many and the troubles are few. Lewis, performed by Dennis Quaid as a grinning simpleton with a loopy streak and a manic piano fashion, climbs the identical profession ladder as lots of the stars of musical biographies, however he does it with lightning pace.” Ebert additionally stated that Quaid did a pleasant job of reproducing Lewis’ stage persona.[9]

Critic Caryn James wrote that the movie portrays the enjoyable aspect of rock and roll, and wrote, “Jim McBride’s movie is a compressed, cleaned-up model of the Jerry Lee Lewis story, however it re-creates the soul-shaking, brain-rattling enjoyable of rock-and-roll. It additionally captures, maybe for the primary time on movie, one thing of the sexual aura of rock-and-roll at its beginning.” But, she added that anybody on the lookout for a real sense of music historical past might be let down by the movie.[10]

The assessment aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 60{ae90547d17d4d74b17007ee836a04674fd006933c139011dc78eb03c100070a7} of critics gave the movie a optimistic assessment, primarily based on 25 evaluations. The crucial consensus reads, “Nice Balls of Hearth romanticizes the extra disturbing components of Jerry Lee Lewis’ controversial life story, however Dennis Quaid’s crackerjack efficiency and a soundtrack filled with traditional songs provides this flawed biopic some smolder”.[11]


  • Younger Artist Awards: Younger Artist Award; Greatest Younger Actress Starring in a Movement Image, Winona Ryder; 1990.

Field workplace

The movie opened on 1,417 screens in the US on June 30, 1989. The box-office receipts had been poor, with the movie ending in seventh place for the weekend with a gross of $3,807,986 and ultimately grossing $13,691,550.[12]


An authentic movement image soundtrack was launched by the producers on the Polydor Data label on June 8, 1989. Lewis re-recorded his music from the Fifties for the soundtrack with the title observe “Nice Balls of Hearth,” “Entire Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” and “That Fortunate Outdated Solar.” The soundtrack accommodates 12 tracks. A music video of the track “Nice Balls of Hearth”, with Quaid and Lewis taking part in the piano and containing snippets of scenes from the movie, was featured on the unique VHS video launch previous the movie. This re-recorded model was additionally featured within the 1993 movie adaptation of the Stephen King novel Needful Issues, when the character Hugh Priest (Duncan Fraser) is reminiscing about his youth as a youngster within the Fifties after attempting on a jacket that appears just like the one he had when he was youthful. “Lewis Boogie” can also be within the movie through the closing credit however doesn’t seem on the soundtrack album.

CD observe itemizing
  1. “Nice Balls of Hearth”
  2. “Excessive Faculty Confidential”
  3. “Massive Legged Girl” – Booker T. Laury
  4. “I am on Hearth”
  5. “Rocket 88” – Jackie Brenston And The Delta Cats
  6. “Entire Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On”
  7. “Entire Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” – Valerie Wellington
  8. “Breathless”
  9. “Loopy Arms” – Jerry Lee Lewis/Dennis Quaid
  10. “Wild One”
  11. “That Fortunate Outdated Solar”
  12. “Nice Balls of Hearth” (Unique Model)


The title observe of “Nice Balls Of Hearth” was launched as a single on 7″ vinyl and CD format with both 2 or 3-tracks in numerous nations such because the US, UK, Netherlands, Japan and Germany with the B-side being “Breathless” or “Loopy Arms”.

House media

Nice Balls of Hearth! was launched to DVD by MGM House Leisure on April 1, 2003 as a Area 1 widescreen DVD. The movie was issued on Blu-ray by Olive Movies on February 27, 2018.

  • Nice Balls of Hearth! on the American Movie Institute Catalog
  • Nice Balls of Hearth! at IMDb
  • Nice Balls of Hearth! at AllMovie
  • Nice Balls of Hearth! movie trailer at YouTube

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