Nine Kinks Songs That Could be Movies

The Kinks are sort of the forgotten member of the British Invasion bands. Everyone knows and loves the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and The Who to varying degrees. You don’t find nearly as much excitement for The Kinks, which is a shame. Maybe it’s that they were such obvious fans of the movies that draws me to them. However you slice it, I’m a huge fan. And a lot of their songs are fertile territory for potential films. Examples:

Two Sisters
Sybilla looked into her mirror. Priscilla looked into the washing machine. And thus begins the tale of two perfect foils, one trapped in suburbia, the other a free spirit. There’s even a character arc. Lyrically, it plays out a bit like a Bergman movie.

Some Mother’s Son
Someone has killed some mother’s son today/ head blown up by some soldiers gun. It’s all about World War I and the carnage inflicted. Hearing the lyrics, it’s hard not to envision a 21st century version of films like All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) or Wooden Crosses (1932). Technically, there’s already a Helen Mirren film from 1996 of the same name, but it’s not at all about World War I.

Here’s a story about a sinner. He used to be a winner who enjoyed a life of prominence and position. There’s a built-in character arc if I’ve ever seen one- a middle class executive who starts with a “life of prominence and position” but ends up a “sinner”, “a slave to demon alcohol”. It even includes jilted wives and floozies that lead the man to drink.

Full Moon
You see before you a truly broken man. When it gets to midnight, I don’t know who I am. I hate to state the obvious but this is a werewolf movie. There are even other obvious ways that it might work and I’m not going to say it out loud but you don’t really have to read too hard between the lines.

The gas bills and the water rates, and payments on the car/ Too scared to think about how insecure you are/ Life ain’t so happy in your little Shangri-la. In a lot of ways, the Kinks presaged movies like American Beauty (1999) and Revolutionary Road (2008) with this scathing ditty about the trap of suburbia.

Dead End Street
No money coming in. The rent collector’s knocking, trying to get in. The song works as a critique of poverty and the slums. It’s easy to see this as something very similar to Kurosawa’s Dodes’ka-den (1970).

In man’s evolution he has created the cities and the motor traffic rumble, but give me half a chance and I’d be taking off my clothes and living in the jungle. There are lots of ways this could work. It could work as the happy ending to our Shangri-La character- rather than a man being worn down by bills and the ennui of everyday life, he throws everything away and goes off to live in the woods. It could work as a screwball comedy in the vein of 80’s SNL movies, with some goofy family man finally snapping and moving his family to the middle of nowhere. Whatever the case, the notion of someone throwing everything away and simplifying their lives by unplugging from society is a really great idea.

King Kong
Little man’s weak and big man’s strong. Everyone wants to be King Kong. While we’re on the topic of monkeys, how about a movie with a big nasty greedy corporate asshole? It’d certainly be timely and not in a condescending way (I’m looking at you, The Company Men). You can give the guy his comeuppance if you want, which might just launch it into cult hit status. By the way, there’s some really cool animation in this video, apparently from Tadanori Yokoo.

Rosie, Won’t You Please Come Home?
Rosie, won’t you please come home? Mama don’t know where you’ve been. Strangely, I’d never heard this song until around the time I started watching AMC’s The Killing– a TV show about a dead girl named Rosie. And as I watched (and wound up disappointed by) The Killing, I couldn’t help but wonder how great a movie you could make about the dissolution of Rosie’s family in her absence. A film with fresh characters but a similar premise would make for dynamite drama.


If you enjoyed this article from TDYLF, you may also enjoy:
My Life in Original Motion Picture Soundtracks, Part I
My Life in Original Motion Picture Soundtracks, Part II


Filed under Movies

49 responses to “Nine Kinks Songs That Could be Movies

  1. Not a big fan of the Kinks (a bit before my time). But this is a great idea. If it had been done with an artist I was more familar with, then I’d have more to contribute.

    That said, listening to some of their music, I’m enjoying it.

    • I am admittedly stuck in the 60’s and 70’s when it comes to music, even if I wasn’t born until ’76.

    • MisterKal

      Sad that you’re not a fan of the Kinks. The band basically ended in 1984 with Word of Mouth but (technically) limped along until 1996 putting out weak-to-mediocre albums with dwindling concert attendance. The Kinks are a perfect example of a band who stayed too long at the dance. I was born in 1963 and didn’t discover the Kinks until their ARISTA resurgence (’77-’81). I am one of those fans who scratch my head at why more people like The Who more than The Kinks. I truly believe that the Internet will keep the band alive and see young bands discover the Kinks as a major influence.

  2. HAHA Great Idea John, although you may have to patent it at this is sure to be stolen by writers from Hollywood as the cannot think of an original idea between them and are always looking to convert stories…

    (I mean who thought of a film of the game battleships?)

    Have a great weekend

  3. Tambourine Man

    Ray Davies has a gift for providing a glimpse into everyday life and somehow making it sound nostalgic, even when he’s complaining about it. FYI, I’d rank the Kinks #2 on my favorite British Invasion bands, behind The Beatles but ahead of the Stones. “Waterloo Sunset” is a top-10 song for me.

    • Erin

      I waled down the isle to “maybe I’m amazed” and we walked out of the church to “waterloo sunset”. It is one of the most romantic songs ever written I think.

    • As I was writing this, I couldn’t help but notice that half of their songs fall into one of two categories:

      -wayward women whose life have turned to shit
      -crapping all over suburbia and middle class/wealthy conventions

      • Felonious Punk

        You say that like it’s a bad thing, but what about “phenomenal cat”, “big sky”, “last of the steam-powered trains”, anything on “village green preservation society”, or “something else”? Even their biggest hit, “You Really Got Me”, has nothing to do with what you say. You know next to nothing about the kinks.

  4. Varla

    I’d love to see/use “Wish I Could Fly (Like Superman)”, in an ItalianJob (1968 version), Michael Caine-like crime movie.

  5. Fairportfan

    In some way, the Kinks were more influential than any British Invasion except the Beatles.

    There are amazing echoes of their work in the punk movement.

    If it wouldn’t be a little too close to the bone (another great Kinks song/album, BTW), “Celluloid Heroes” might make a great movie:

    you can see all the stars as you walk down hollywood boulevard,
    some that you recognise, some that you’ve hardly even heard of.
    people who worked and suffered and struggled for fame,
    some who succeeded and some who suffered in vain.

    everybody’s a dreamer and everybody’s a star
    and everybody’s in show biz, it doesn’t matter who you are.

    and those who are successful,
    be always on your guard,
    success walks hand in hand with failure
    along hollywood boulevard.

    i wish my life was a non-stop hollywood movie show,
    a fantasy world of celluloid villains and heroes,
    because celluloid heroes never feel any pain
    and celluloid heroes never really die.

  6. Hitlist again matey? LOLzzz

  7. Hit-List AGAIN? Oh, well, no big deal, just the usual, ay John?

  8. John

    What about “Don’t Forget to Dance”?

  9. Pingback: Hit List: August 9, 2011 « IMDb: All the Latest

  10. Lanny

    most kink songs can be made into a movie….Only a Dream, Holiday Romance, Jack the idiot dunce, dreams, moments, etc….the kinks are my favorite group since l964…beatles a close second, the kinks are better than the stones or the over-rated who…..

  11. David

    You forget my favorite Kinks song, “Come Dancing”. It would make a great movie. A commentary of modern morality, a nostalgia piece or just a fun flick. It was released in 82.

  12. arivalscientist

    Apeman was made into a screwball comedy that featured SCTV characters and Robin Williams. It even featured the song in a segment of the film.

    Club Paradise

    Hell, the song is even in the trailer

  13. Dave P.

    The entire “Arthur” album was meant to be a film and was planned as such, until some producer scuttled the whole thing. It even got as far as budgeting and casting.

  14. I would see a movie version of Lola.

  15. Magnus

    The whole album “Schoolboys In Disgrace” is up for a movie by Bobcat Goldhwait, famous from the “Police Academy”-films (hope not THAT is an omen). The Kinks songs is really great material for movies. Strange there haven’t been any expect from Ray Davies himself.

  16. 76United

    I think you can make a movie only using Kinks songs, the way Across the Universe did it for Beatles music.

    The Village Green Preservation Society album alone could be a movie.

  17. Anthony

    Berkley Mews…it’s practically a screenplay already.

  18. Frank Lima

    These 9 songs are only the tip of iceberg when it comes to the Genius of Ray Davies and the kinks; many of his songs and concept albums are made to order to be tv shows, and on the theatre stages of the West End and Broadway, on several ocassions they almost got there too, and he has written songs uses for a few TV pilots one of the more famous ones was “Till Death us do part ” which was the theme song for an English TV show pilot and ended up being ” All in the Family ” here in the US IN THE 70’S but they chose a different song more suited to American tv audiences. The Kinks to me are the greatest rock band of all time and their music does not age or go out of style, Ray is the most gifted and greatest songwriter in all of rock and roll and pop music, and his words, lyrics and outlook on life, the world and our society make him a prophet in my eyes. When someone asks me who is your all time hero or woh has affected or changed your life more than anything or anyone, it takes me 1 second to answer RAY DAVIES!

    • Lloyd Kaplan

      If anyone know the Kinks well, it’s you Frank. The Kinks have become
      a religion to many of us. Every night I get to hear my son play my favorite Kinks song #5 on the above list Shangri La

      And all the houses in the street have got a name
      ‘Cos all the houses in the street they look the same
      Same chimney pots, same little cars, same window panes
      The neighbors call to tell you things that you should know
      They say their lines, they drink their tea, and then they go
      They tell your business in another Shangri-la
      The gas bills and the water rates, and payments on the car
      Too scared to think about how insecure you are
      Life ain’t so happy in your little Shangri-la

      Lloyd (socal)

    • Lloyd Kaplan

      Dan is a fan and he lives for our music
      It’s the only thing that gets him by
      He’s watched us grow and he’s seen all our shows
      He’s seen us low and he’s seen us high

      Thanks Frank LIma


    • That’s quite the tribute to Ray Davies and the Kinks, sir. I salute you.

    • Mike

      Well stated Frank. Ray’s music has gotten me and untold others thru tough times. I always thought that Rock and Roll Fantasy could have been written for me until I met the real “Dan”. Your LA friend, thanks again for the bumper sticker. Mike

  19. Frank Lima

    Thanks Loyd…if Ray is out on the West Coast later this year I hope to see you. – Frank

  20. Sabba

    I was totally going to say that the song “Village Green” off The Village Green Preservation Society would be a great film. Stuff like it has been done before, a guy realizing he misses the town he’s from, but it’s already such a great story in a two minute song. I’d totally be down for a movie.

  21. Marc

    The only thing I’d like to add is that I don’t agree they ended with “Word of Mouth”
    I really enjoyed “Think Visual” and consider it to be their last truly great album.

  22. Marc

    I should also say the “UK Jive” and even “Phobia” had a few gems, i.e. “Loony Balloon”, “The War is Over.” But as a whole . . . . .Yikes!
    No the way I wanted my Heroes to go out.

  23. Joanne

    Ray Davies wasn’t the only songwriter in the Kinks. His brother Dave wrote many great songs as well. How about a movie based on “Funny Face,” “Susannah’s Still Alive,” “Lincoln County” or “Bright Lights”?

  24. Gary

    There are several Dylan songs that I’ve always thought would make great movies: “Tangled Up in Blue,” “Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts,” “Brownsville Girl,” “Tweeter and the Monkey Man,” and most of the “Desire” LP: “Hurricane,” “Isis,” “Joey,” “Romance in Durango,” “Black Diamond Bay.”

  25. Mark Gottlieb

    Great piece! I always imagined “Pictures in the Sand” making it into a beach scene. How about “Art Lover?” You probably know that Soap Opera was a stage show (but might not have made a good film). “People in Grey?” “End of the Season?”

  26. Pet

    I read in the CD notes to “Arthur” that there was an animation made of “Shangri La” which has never been shown. Despite of being “amazing”, as Ray Davies called it.

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