Great Balls of Fire!

Winona Ryder as: Myra Gale Brown
Directed by: Jim McBride
Written by: Myra Lewis (book), Jack Baran (screenplay)
Other cast: Dennis Quaid, Alec Baldwin, Steve Allen, John Doe
Release date: June 30, 1989 (Wide)
Genre: Biography, Drama, Music
Running time: 108min

The killer, 22-year-old Jerry Lee Lewis, comes to Memphis to be recorded by Sam Phillips of Sun records. He stays with a cousin and meets 13-year-old Myra Gale. Love and a promising carer as the King of Rock and Roll grow, until he marries Myra and the world finds out and he's blacklisted.

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Winona has won the Best Young Actress Starring in a Motion Picture award for this film in 1990. She was also nominated by Chicago Film Critics Association Awards as Most Promising Actress.



Theatrical Trailer

Production

The story was co-written by Myra Gail Lewis (her autobiography Great Balls of Fire!), the former wife of Jerry Lee Lewis, with Murray Silver. Despite this, co-writer Silver was upset by the lack of accuracy in the film, claiming it was “phoney”. Director Jim McBride admitted that it was never his intention to tie his film to the facts, and stated “This movie does not represent itself in any way to be a historical documentary. We use the book as a jumping-off point.”

Lewis has openly stated that he hates the film and the book it was based on. Lewis did, however, praise Quaid’s portrayal of him in the film, saying “he really pulled it off”. Quaid even learned to play “Lewis-style” piano for the role.

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

Quotes

  • I never fitted in. It’s such a fake society. You get the feeling that everybody is scamming everybody else. You can’t tell if poeple are nice because they like you, or because they want to use you. Nothing is genuine. Everything runs on rumor and gossip. It’s really sick.
    Winona about Hollywood
  • You’re a gift from god.
    Myra Gale Lewis to Winona after a test-screening of Great Balls of Fire
  • The face I chose is really revealing. I couldn’t believe it was me. It looks weird to me, Dennis is so big and I’m so little, I don’t look a day over thirteen exept when I took my shirt off and I have this 1950s bullet bra on.
    Winona about the Love Scene
  • Promoting the Film

  • Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On (Newsweek, 1989)
  • Wise Child (Premiere, 1989)
  • Child Bride – The Charms of Winsome Winona Ryder (Marquee, 1989)
  • Winona Ryder on the Road to a Hot Career? (LA Times, 1989)
  • The Newcomers (LA Times, 1989)

  • Winona attended the film premiere in Los Angeles, on June 26th, 1989.