American Pop

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American Pop is a 1981 animated film directed by Ralph Bakshi. It tells the story of four generations of a Russian Jewish immigrant family of musicians whose careers parallel the history of American popular music.

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[1930's-1950's - Bella receives a package that's meant for Zalmie.]
Bella: Zalmie, you ordered pretzels?
Zalmie: "Pretzels"?
Bella: Yeah. (hugging package) I thought maybe you sent me a present, but it's a box of pretzels.
Zalmie: (realizing) Bella! Don't touch the box! BELLA!!!
[Off-screen explosion - The box explodes on Bella, killing her. Smoke fills the room.]

[Louis and Zalmie are performing as the two halves of a dancing horse - Zalmie being the lower half.]
Zalmie: Loius?
Louis: Yeah?
Zalmie: I'm 17 years-old. When's my voice gonna change already?
Louis: It's changin'. It's changin'.
Zalmie: I know it's changin. When's it gonna change for good?
Loius: What's your rush?
Zalmie: I don't wanna be a horse's ass forever.

Zalmie: Hey, Louis, I just seen the most beautiful thing I ever seen in the whole world.
Louis: Some pre-Prohibition booze, huh?
Zalmie: No. I seen the stripper gettin' dressed.
Louis: A stripper gettin' dressed ain't beautiful unless she's ugly to begin with.
Zalmie: She was not ugly to begin with!

Tony: What is this?
The Blonde: Corn.
Tony: Corn? Corn comes in a little white box from Birdseye. Corn? Kansas is corny! Can ya eat it?
The Blonde: Yeah.
Tony: Can ya smoke it? Can ya drink it? Can ya lie in it?
The Blonde: Sure.
Tony: Then lie in it with me.
The Blonde: Are you crazy?
Tony: Yeah, I'm crazy. I'm crazy in love with your blue eyes... and your corn-silked hair. Your corn-silked hair. Canned corn, candy corn, popcorn, Crackerjacks! You're the prize in my box! And my box is this country. It's all tinfoil on the outside. Corn and sweetness on the inside.

Charlie: Hey, DiNoble, what are you doin'?
Tony: Thinkin'.
Charlie: Thinkin' of what?
Tony: Clean thoughts.
Charlie: Then how come my dishes are dirty?
Tony: Dirty?
Charlie: Dirty.
Tony: Well, them poor dumb little bastards. They never learned the power of positive thought.
Charlie: I thought you said you was a dishwasher.
Tony: I'm a dishwasher. [shouts to the sky] I'm a dishwasher. My hands is permanently puckered! [turns] But you know what? The thrill is gone. Hey, that's what happen when you turn pro. Even that first batch of suds, that first spreading of Palmolive over troubled waters, that first plunge through the foam, that first hopeful fish for a dish-it is gone, Charlie! It is gone. And I think it's time, that I'm movin' on. [starts walking away]
Charlie: Where? Where you gonna go?
Tony: West! West! Where else can a man go that needs elbow room?
Charlie: And what the hell you need elbow room for?
Tony: I'm thinking of taking up the accordion.
Charlie: Hey, you're not going to make it in this business, Tony. You can't sing, you play guitar like a duck!
Tony: That's 'cause my hands is permanently puckered!
Charlie: And anyway, this is California! There ain't no further west to go!

[Tony has injured himself and lies in bed wearing casts around his neck, leg, and arm.]
Man: Hey, man, how do you feel?
Tony: Like a fuckin' M&M: dig my thin candy shell.

[The 1980s - Pete has grown up dealing cocaine. He arrives at a recording studio.]
Pete: Pizza Man! We deliver!
Man: You got the coke, daddy-o.
Pete: What do I look like, man? A soda fountain?


  • One family, four generations, in love with the greatest music of all time.
  • Whether you dance to it, drive to it, sing with it, or swing to it...Whether you can crank it up, plug it in, or switch it on...It assaults your senses, rocks your body, and touches your soul. It's American Pop.
  • All those years...All those dreams...All those sons...One of them is going to be a star.
  • Zalmie should have been a star, but there were complications. Benny could have been famous, but life got in the way. Tony had a brush with success, but had to let it go. So it was up to grab it, to hold it, to make himself heard.


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