HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
20th Century Women
Monster Trucks
Lookout, The
Black Belt
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
Their Finest
Stella Cadente
Water Drops on Burning Rocks
Replace
Belladonna of Sadness
Aquarius
Erik the Conqueror
Baghead
Guns at Batasi
Gang Story, A
Magnificent Ambersons, The
Climber, The
It's a Big Country
Raw
Last Man Standing
Transfiguration, The
Alien Nation
Kajaki
Certain Fury
Life
Hundra
Wonder Woman
Francesca
Jimi Plays Berkeley
Berlin Syndrome
   
 
Newest Articles
Two Sides of Sellers: The Party vs The Optimists
Norse Code: The Vikings vs The Long Ships
Over the Moon - Space: 1999 The Complete Series on Blu-ray Part 2
Alpha Males and Females - Space: 1999 The Complete Series on Blu-ray Part 1
Animated Anxieties: From the Era of the Creepiest Cartoons
Manor On Movies--Clegg (1970)
Plans for Nigel: The Crunch... and Other Stories on DVD
Let's Get Harry: Repo Man and Paris, Texas
Shut Up, Crime! The Punisher at the Movies
Thunderbollocks: The Golden Age of Bond Rip-Offs
   
 
  Tommy Pinball WizardryBuy this film here.
Year: 1975
Director: Ken Russell
Stars: Oliver Reed, Ann-Margret, Roger Daltrey, Elton John, Eric Clapton, John Entwistle, Keith Moon, Paul Nicholas, Jack Nicholson, Robert Powell, Pete Townshend, Tina Turner, Arthur Brown, Victoria Russell, Ben Aris, Mary Holland, Gary Rich, Dick Allan
Genre: Musical, Weirdo, Fantasy
Rating:  5 (from 2 votes)
Review: Captain Walker (Robert Powell) and his new wife Nora (Ann-Margret) enjoyed an idyllic marriage at first, but then events intervened that would drive them apart: World War Two. After stumbling through the ruins of Blitz-hit London, Walker was forced to say goodbye to his spouse and go off to war as a bomber pilot, and tragically he went missing in action. Nora was left pregnant and soon a widowed single mother, so had mixed feelings at the end of the conflict, but one summer she decided to take her child, Tommy (Barry Winch), to Bernie's Holiday Camp. There she would meet Frank (Oliver Reed), a defining influence in Tommy's life when he seduced his mother...

The Who's rock opera Tommy is possibly one of the most famous concept albums of all time, so this being the nineteen-seventies, a decade of experimentation, it was thought that Ken Russell would be just the chap to fashion a film from Pete Townshend's music. And in a way, he was the perfect choice as the result was noisy, colourful and most of all queasy, an ideally faithful adaptation that attempts, and to some extent succeeds, in overwhelming the audience with its barrage of sound and vision, aspects that are ironically denied its lead character for much of the film.

This is because Tommy is the deaf, dumb and blind kid who sure plays a mean pinball, and the reason he's struck so is that he witnesses Frank killing his father, who in this version hadn't died in the war but has made his way back home to burst in on his wife and her new partner. There's a scuffle and the Captain is killed - we never find out what happens to the body or if there are any police involved, it's just a plot point like so many that stand without believable implications. This can be excused as the rock opera works in a heightened level of reality, and every story element is there to keep us hurtling towards the next song.

Tommy grows up fast, as by the time he's supposedly a teenager, he's played by Roger Daltrey who looks the same age as Nora and Frank. A certain suspension of disbelief is necessary, but you couldn't have the film without Daltrey in the lead role I guess. He's not the only music star to appear, as the movie is littered with guest stars: Eric Clapton appears as a plot-foreshadowing evangelist who fails to heal Tommy at the feet of a Marilyn Monroe effigy, Jack Nicholson - singing (in tune) in an English accent - is a doctor with similar lack of success, Elton John sings "Pinball Wizard" with enormous boots on and Tina Turner is the Acid Queen who takes Tommy on a nightmarish trip.

How you separate that particular nightmarish trip from the tone of the rest of the film is up to you, as overall there's something inescapably headachey about the whole project. Excess was probably the only way to match the music, and it is vivid and memorable throughout, yet could you honestly say you were enjoying yourself? Humour is present, but it's of the nature of Keith Moon enthusiastically performing the pederast Uncle Ernie part, i.e., more offputting than funny. Spectacle is the order of the day, as for example we see Ann-Margret swamped in baked beans spouting from a television set once Tommy makes it big as a celebrity. What Townshend and Russell are saying about the cult of personality as Tommy becomes an evangelist himself, complete with his own holiday camp, is unclear and you're left impressed by the staging, if probably not too keen on sitting through the film again in a hurry. It wears you out.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 2716 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Ken Russell  (1927 - 2011)

It was trips to the cinema with his mother that made British director, writer and producer Ken Russell a lifelong film fan and this developed into making his own short films. From there, he directed dramas on famous composers for the BBC, and was soon making his own features.

French Dressing did not make much of an impact, but if his Harry Palmer episode Billion Dollar Brain was fairly well received, then his follow up, Women in Love really put Russell on the international movie map. From there the seventies produced most of the highlights of his career, never shying away from controversy, with The Music Lovers, The Devils (most reviled of his films and his masterpiece), musical The Boy Friend, and more music and artist based works with Savage Messiah, Mahler, Tommy (the film of The Who's concept album) and Lisztomania.

After the seventies, which he ended with the biopic Valentino, his popularity declined somewhat with Altered States suffering production difficulties and later projects difficult to get off the ground. Nevertheless, he directed Crimes of Passion, Gothic, Salome's Last Dance, cult horror Lair of the White Worm and The Rainbow in the eighties, but the nineties and beyond saw more erratic output, with many short films that went largely unseen, although a UK TV series of Lady Chatterley was a success. At the age of 79 he appeared on reality TV show Celebrity Big Brother but walked out after a few days. Russell was one of Britain's most distinctive talents, and his way of going passionately over the top was endearing and audacious, while he rarely lost sight of his stories' emotional aspects.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Who's the best?
Robin Askwith
Mark Wahlberg
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Ian Phillips
Jensen Breck
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Stately Wayne Manor
Paul Shrimpton
  Vikki Sanderson
   

 

Last Updated: