2019 Film Reviews – 47: Hitsville: The Making Of Motown [dir. Benjamin Turner & Gabe Turner; 2019]

You don’t really need an excuse to spend two hours in the company of some of the most irresistible music ever recorded. But if you insist on having a documentary backdrop to the likes of Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson doing their thing, then Hitsville fulfils the role with great charm. Taking its inspiration from Motown founder Berry Gordy’s policy of approaching the business like an assembly line, it offers a breathless tour of the various stages of the process, convincingly arguing that a combination of fortuitous timing and a passionate, unhurried devotion to quality was bound to lead to success. The directors’ decision to make up for a lack of visual footage of key conversations by filling the screen with rapidly flashing ‘dialogue titles’ threatens to derail the narrative. And the film avoids mentioning Motown’s more questionable moments. But as the credits roll, it’s hard not to see this as anything less than foot-stompingly enjoyable fare. 

Hitsville documentary review by Dariush Alavi


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