The Commitments (film)

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The Commitments
Commitments poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Alan Parker
Produced by Lynda Myles
Roger Randall-Cutler[1]
Screenplay by Dick Clement
Ian La Frenais
Roddy Doyle
Based on The Commitments 
by Roddy Doyle
Starring Robert Arkins
Colm Meaney
Andrew Strong
Maria Doyle
Music by Wilson Pickett
Percy Sledge
Cinematography Gale Tattersall
Edited by Gerry Hambling
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • 14 August 1991 (1991-08-14)
Running time
118 minutes[2]
Country Ireland
United Kingdom
United States
Language English
Box office $14.9 million

The Commitments is a 1991 comedy-drama film directed by Alan Parker. A film adaptation of Roddy Doyle's 1987 novel The Commitments, the film tells a story of working class Dubliners who form a soul band. With a screenplay adapted by Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais, and Doyle himself,[3] The film was an international co-production between companies in Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It was filmed on location in Dublin.[4]


In the northside of Dublin, Jimmy Rabbitte aspires to manage the world's greatest band, with only one music in mind: soul. Disgusted with bands in Ireland, and beginning with his friends Outspan and Derek, he assembles a band in the tradition of 1960s black American recording artists like Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett. By advertising for applicants in a newspaper and asking around to promising acquaintances, Jimmy holds auditions at his parents' home and assembles a band together. Unlike his idols, Jimmy's band is white.

With the help of Joey "The Lips" Fagan, a veteran musician who answers the ad and joins the band and who has unlikely stories about meeting and working with famous musicians, Jimmy begins to whip the members into shape - gradually coming together beautifully onstage, only to have the group fall apart in a clash of egos.


The cast were mostly unknown before filming, chosen for musical rather than acting ability.[5]

  • Band members
    • Robert Arkins as Jimmy Rabbitte, manager. Arkins was initially considered for the role of Deco until the filmmakers discovered Andrew Strong. He sings only in the film's opening credits (the song "Treat Her Right").[5]
    • Andrew Strong as Declan "Deco" Cuffe, lead singer. His father, Rob Strong, was brought in as a vocal coach and Parker heard his son singing and auditioned him for Deco.[6] Strong was 16 years old during filming.
    • The Commitmentettes
      • Angeline Ball as Imelda Quirke, backup singer.
      • Maria Doyle as Natalie Murphy, backup singer
      • Bronagh Gallagher as Bernie McGloughlin, backup singer. Born in Derry, Northern Ireland, Gallagher had to learn a Dublin accent.
    • Glen Hansard as Outspan Foster, Guitar.
    • Kenneth McCluskey as Derek Scully, bass.
    • Johnny Murphy as Joey "The Lips" Fagan, trumpet. A number of established musicians were considered, including Rory Gallagher and Van Morrison (Morrison still offered his songs for use in the film).[7] Parker felt that established actor Murphy could mentor the largely untrained cast.
    • Félim Gormley as Dean Fay, sax.
    • Michael Aherne as Steven Clifford, piano.
    • Dick Massey as Billy Mooney, first drummer.
    • Dave Finnegan as Mickah Wallace, second drummer.
  • Colm Meaney as Jimmy Rabbitte, Sr.
  • Anne Kent as Mrs. Rabbitte
  • All four siblings from The Corrs appear in the film.
    • Andrea Corr as Sharon Rabbitte, Jimmy's younger sister. She does not sing in the film.
    • Jim Corr as a "Avant-Garde-A-Clue" band member
    • Sharon Corr (uncredited) as Fiddle Player in Country & Western band
    • Caroline Corr (uncredited) as Drummer in Country & Western band
  • Peter Rowen (who featured on the cover of many of U2's recordings such as Boy and War) as the skateboarding boy who wants to audition for the band.
  • Colm Mac Con Iomaire as an auditioning fiddler
  • Sean Hughes as Dave from Eejit Records
  • Alan Parker as Eejit Records producer


Pre-production began in June 1990. Around 3000 people were auditioned as part of the casting process.[8]

Only two of the main Commitments band members were played by established actors, Bronagh Gallagher and Johnny Murphy, the rest were played by musicians or novice actors.[8]

Shooting of the film began on 27 August 1990 and finished in mid-October. It was shot at 44 different locations around Dublin.[8] Shooting locations included: Saint Francis Xavier Church (where Steven plays A Whiter Shade of Pale on the church organ), Kilbarrack D.A.R.T. Station (station walkway where Jimmy tells Outspan & Derek that the music the band should be playing should be "Dublin Soul"), the area of Darndale on the Northside of Dublin (location of the Rabbitte's home), and the upstairs at the Camden Deluxe Hotel (the band's rehearsal area above the snooker hall).[9]


The Commitments gained a positive reception from critics, as it holds an 88% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 40 reviews.[10]

The film won the BAFTA Award for Best Film, as well as BAFTA Awards for Best Director, Best Editing (Gerry Hambling), and Best Adapted Screenplay. It was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy and for the Academy Award for Best Film Editing.


The Commitments was voted best Irish film of all time in a 2005 poll sponsored by Jameson Irish Whiskey[11] and launched a generation of Irish musicians and actors.

An image of four of the actors, in character, was featured on an Irish postage stamp as part of the Ireland 1996: Irish Cinema Centenary series issued by An Post.[12] The image includes lead singer Declan "Deco" Cuffe (portrayed by Strong), along with the three "Commitmentettes" – Imelda Quirke (portrayed by Ball), Natalie Murphy (Doyle) and Bernie McGloughlin (Gallagher).[13]

Stage production[edit]

In 2013, a musical stage production also titles The Commitments, began previews on 21 September in London's West End at the Palace Theatre. Its official opening night was 8 October.[14] The musical is based on the 1987 novel, by Roddy Doyle.[15] Following the book's adaption into the movie in 1991,[16] Doyle turned down offers to turn the novel into a musical.[17][18]


The Commitments (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)[edit]

The Commitments (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
The commitments-the commitments.jpg
Soundtrack album
Released 13 August 1991
Genre Soul
Label MCA Records
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[19]
Robert Christgau C+[20]

The Commitments (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), the soundtrack for the film, was released on 13 Aug 1991.[21] "Mustang Sally" was released as a single. Most songs on the album are performed by the cast band, with two by Irish singer Niamh Kavanagh.

No. Title Writer(s) Original artist Length
1. "Mustang Sally"   Mack Rice Mack Rice 4:02
2. "Take Me To The River"   Al Green, Mabon "Teenie" Hodges Al Green 3:36
3. "Chain of Fools"   Don Covay Aretha Franklin 2:58
4. "The Dark End Of The Street"   Dan Penn, Chips Moman James Carr 2:34
5. "Destination Anywhere" (Niamh Kavanagh) Nickolas Ashford, Valerie Simpson The Marvelettes 3:08
6. "I Can't Stand The Rain"   Ann Peebles, Don Bryant, Bernard "Bernie" Miller Ann Peebles 3:12
7. "Try A Little Tenderness"   Jimmy Campbell and Reg Connelly, Harry M. Woods Otis Redding 4:31
8. "Treat Her Right"   Roy Head and the Traits Roy Head and the Traits 3:35
9. "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man" (Niamh Kavanagh) Penn, Moman Aretha Franklin 3:15
10. "Mr. Pitiful"   Redding, Steve Cropper Otis Redding 2:07
11. "I Never Loved A Man"   Ronny Shannon Aretha Franklin 3:09
12. "In The Midnight Hour"   Pickett, Cropper Wilson Pickett 2:21
13. "Bye Bye Baby"   Mary Wells Mary Wells 3:21
14. "Slip Away"   William Armstrong, Marcus Daniel, Wilbur Terrell Clarence Carter 4:27
Chart positions
Chart (1991) Peak
Australian Albums Chart[22] 2
Austrian Albums Chart[22] 12
New Zealand Albums Chart[22] 1
Norwegian Albums Chart[22] 3
Swedish Albums Chart[22] 17
Swiss Music Charts[22] 6
UK Albums Chart[23] 4
US Billboard 200[24] 8

The Commitments, Vol. 2[edit]

The Commitments, Vol. 2: Music From The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
The commitments-the commitments vol 2.jpg
Soundtrack album
Released 17 March 1992
Genre Soul
Label MCA Records

After the commercial success of the first soundtrack album, a follow-up entitled The Commitments, Vol. 2: Music From The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack was released in 1992.[21] The album included four more songs from the movie as well as seven additional tracks.

No. Title Writer(s) Original artist Length
1. "Hard To Handle"   Allen Jones, Al Bell, Otis Redding Otis Redding 2:23
2. "Grits Ain't Groceries"   Titus Turner Little Milton 3:44
3. "I Thank You"   Isaac Hayes, David Porter Sam & Dave 3:40
4. "That's The Way Love Is"   Norman Whitfield, Barrett Strong Marvin Gaye 4:08
5. "Show Me"   Joe Tex Joe Tex 2:56
6. "Saved"   Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller LaVern Baker 2:54
7. "Too Many Fish in the Sea"   Whitfield, Eddie Holland The Marvelettes 2:45
8. "Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)"   Redding, Steve Cropper Otis Redding 2:52
9. "Land Of A Thousand Dances"   Chris Kenner Wilson Pickett 3:16
10. "Nowhere To Run"   Holland–Dozier–Holland Martha and the Vandellas 3:39
11. "Bring It On Home To Me"   Sam Cooke Sam Cooke 3:41
Chart positions
Chart (1992) Peak
Australian Albums Chart[25] 6
Austrian Albums Chart[25] 32
New Zealand Albums Chart[25] 3
Norwegian Albums Chart[25] 11
Swedish Albums Chart[25] 25
Swiss Music Charts[25] 15
UK Albums Chart[23] 13
US Billboard 200[26] 118


  1. ^ Vanderknyff, Rick (10 January 1992). "Producer Remembers His Prior 'Commitments' : Lecture: Roger Randall-Cutler tells a UC Irvine audience that he's 'rather disappointed' with film's performance in the U.S.". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-18. 
  2. ^ "THE COMMITMENTS (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 10 July 1991. Retrieved 7 January 2015. 
  3. ^ Gritten, David (11 August 1991). "MOVIES : Irish Soul : How Alan Parker drew upon the working-class kids of Dublin to power his movie 'The Commitments,' about a fictional Irish band". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-18. 
  4. ^ The Irish Filmography 1896-1996; Red Mountain Press (Dublin); 1996. Page 200
  5. ^ a b Alan Parker, DVD commentary.
  6. ^ Alan Parker, Movie Connections - "The Commitments", BBC Television, broadcast 2007-09-17
  7. ^ Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, Movie Connections - "The Commitments", BBC Television, broadcast 2007-09-17
  8. ^ a b c Alan Parker. "The Commitments – The Making of the Film". Alan Parker - Director, Writer, Producer - Official Website. Retrieved 28 August 2015. 
  9. ^ "Film locations for The Commitments (1991)". Retrieved 5 September 2015. 
  10. ^ "The Commitments (1991)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 28 August 2015. 
  11. ^ "And the winner is................................." (PDF). Retrieved 2009-09-10. 
  12. ^ "Ireland 1996: Irish Cinema Centenary". Emerald Isle Gifts, original stamps from An Post. 1996-10-17. Retrieved 2014-11-19. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ Brown, Mark (23 April 2013). "Commitments West End". London: The Guardian. 
  15. ^ "The Commitments to be turned into musical by Roddy Doyle after novel and film success". Daily Mirror. 23 April 2013. Retrieved 26 June 2013. 
  16. ^ "Roddy Doyle's The Commitments becomes West End musical". (BBC News). 24 April 2013. Retrieved 26 June 2013. 
  17. ^ Brown, Mark (23 April 2013). "The Commitments to be turned into West End musical". (London: The Guardian). Retrieved 26 June 2013. 
  18. ^ "Roddy Doyle on The Commitments musical". The Irish Post. 24 April 2013. Retrieved 26 June 2013. 
  19. ^ The Commitments (film) at AllMusic
  20. ^ Christgau, Robert (December 3, 1991). "Consumer Guide: Turkey Shoot". The Village Voice (New York). Retrieved January 1, 2013. 
  21. ^ a b The Commitments at
  22. ^ a b c d e f "Ultratop - The Commitments". Ultratop. Retrieved 21 August 2011. 
  23. ^ a b The Official Charts - The Commitments
  24. ^ "The Commitments - The Commitments". Billboard. Retrieved 21 August 2011. 
  25. ^ a b c d e f "Ultratop - The Commitments Vol 2". Ultratop. Retrieved 21 August 2011. 
  26. ^ "The Commitments - The Commitments Vol 2". Billboard. Retrieved 21 August 2011. 

External links[edit]