The Buddy Holly Story smacks of realism in almost every respect, from the dramaturgy involving Holly and his back-up band, The Crickets, to the verisimilitude of the musical numbers. Latter were recorded live, using 24 tracks, and there was no studio rerecording. It was a gamble that pays off in full, and the Holly repertoire (an extensive one) gives the pic its underlying structure.
Gary Busey not only imparts the driven, perfectionist side of Holly’s character, but his vocal work is excellent, as is his instrumentation.
Robert Gittler’s screenplay [from a story by Alan Swyer] takes Holly from his early days in Lubbock, Texas, where he churns out be-bop for the roller rink crowd, through his disastrous recording career (he punches out a Nashville producer), and up through national recognition on the heels of his big hit, ‘That’ll Be the Day’.
Along the way, director Steve Rash zeroes in on the growing conflict between Busey, drummer Don Stroud and bassist Charles Martin Smith, and the love relationship of Busey and Maria Richwine as his Puerto Rican bride. All principals register strongly.
1978: Best Adapted Score
Nominations: Best Actor (Gary Busey), Sound