Only the Strong Survive (2003)



Critic Consensus: Though this documentary could be more informative, the performances themselves are wonderful.

Only the Strong Survive Photos

Movie Info

Roger Friedman is an entertainment journalist and music fan with a particular love for R&B and soul music from the mid-'50s to the pre-disco era of the early '70s. Owing in part to segregated booking policies and simple lack of proper archiving, Friedman discovered there is little or no surviving film footage or videotape of many of the greatest artists of the era performing on-stage. However, a large number of the performers in question were still active and performing on a regular basis, and with the help of documentary filmmakers Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker, Friedman set out to capture some of his favorites on film while they were still in good form. Only the Strong Survive features knockout performances from such R&B legends as Wilson Pickett, Jerry Butler, the Chi-Lites, Carla Thomas, Mary Wilson, Ann Peebles, and many more, as well as interviews in which the artists discuss the ups and downs of their lives in music. Only the Strong Survive also features performance footage of Memphis R&B pioneer Rufus Thomas, who had passed on at the age of 84, less than two months before the film was screened at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival.
PG-13 (for brief language and a drug reference)
Documentary , Musical & Performing Arts
Directed By:
In Theaters:

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Roger Friedman
as Narrator
Roger Friedman
as Narrator
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Critic Reviews for Only the Strong Survive

All Critics (44) | Top Critics (23)

There's no problem with a little bias, but Friedman's fan-boy perspective puts the subjects of Only the Strong Survive on too high a pedestal.

June 26, 2003
Arizona Republic
Top Critic

Content to merely serve as a cluttered, heart-shaped scrapbook, missing many more stories than it bothers to include.

May 28, 2003
Top Critic

... the music is great, but as a film thumbs down.

May 12, 2003
Ebert & Roeper
Top Critic

Fortunately, the performances themselves are beautifully filmed and recorded.

May 9, 2003
Washington Post
Top Critic

A film that even with its flaws should be cheered for preserving the later years of these towering musical talents.

May 9, 2003
Washington Post
Top Critic

Worth the time and money some of the summer's effects-driven spectacles probably won't be.

Full Review… | May 9, 2003
USA Today
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Only the Strong Survive

Ok, so get together a bunch of washed up has-been soul singers that never had any real hits, let them play concerts in front of 100 people thinking they're the cream of the crop reminiscing about the good ol' days and that's what you have here. The craziest, funniest, more torturous 95 mins of my life.

Aaron Nix
Aaron Nix

Only good memories come from reliving this music, I sometimes feel bad for the younguns, I know they can listen to it now, but you had to have been in that era, to know what I mean.

Xzavier W
Xzavier W

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