Reviewed in April 2010
Director: Ken Russell. Cast: Roger Daltrey, Ann-Margret, Oliver Reed, Robert Powell, Eric Clapton, Tina Turner, Elton John, Jack Nicholson, Barry Winch, Victoria Russell, Keith Moon, Paul Nicholas, Pete Townshend, Ben Aris, Dick Allan, John Entwistle. Screenplay: Ken Russell (based on the rock opera by Pete Townshend and The Who).

Photo © 1975 Columbia Pictures
Orange sunset silhouette - natural light of father trundling down; rockytop picnic with AM; naked beneath waterfall; massive fires, AM already distressed; concv in wfall?; twin nurses, crooning; "Capt Walker didn't come home, his unborn child will nevr know him..." AM faints (firstwords, 7m); OR @ Bernie's Holiday Camp, HAMMING it; OR def attempting gut management pre-sex with AM; looks like REGrant x Shivers; (and THAT's how he goes deaf/dumb/blind); the "Guilty" are safe? - are they guilty?; galaxies of disco balls and warped arcade sound accents; little boy in hall of mirrors, AM teary and apprehensive; "He doesn't know who Jesus was, what praying is - how can he be saved - Tommy, can you hear me?"; cut from young jacaketed Tomy punching nativity to wide-eyed RD; kaleidoscoped EClapton singing, MMonroe statues; trenchcoaters & wheelchairs in pews; what does Marilyn have to do with anything?; RD's blankness kind of hilarious; attendant at burlesque where TT performs; TT's just YANKING him up stairs, down hall; "to tear your soul apart!" (?); turns into knightlike sarcophagus of syringes; blonde twins help him inside; reversal of Lady Sings whites hooking DR on junk; also inside: father, RD as Jesus, skeleton full of snakes; OR's campy, bug-eyed, sweaty immorality; TT in Inland Empire-ish exagg, quaking CU; red nails on needle; CK: "You won't be much fun being blind, deaf, and dumb"; "maybe a cig burn on yoru arm would change your expr to one of alarm" - by all means, have at it; Uncle Ernie, "Fiddling About"; down with your bedclothes, up with your nightshirt; black screen for whatever Ernie's ecstatically up to; Daltrey perpet 45?; mirror stage --> junk heap, where he finds pinball machine; cam inside, not POV; EJ: "That deaf, dumb, and blind kid sure plays a mean pinball" but route to yacht with bikini babes?; plays be sense of smell,... crazy flipper fingers; jam in the rain, whole theater of fans; placard: "Tommy for Table King"; JN curing Dr?; singing!!; Clockworkadelica; pinball at top of walking stick; T crashes through mirror into ice-clear pool; where he's a rock god "I'm free!"; running through yellow flower field x to DDT sprayers; but then shows among VN soldiers, which seems less clear/funny; Gump; he's got a bangin' bod; running before rear-proj mantis?; and then AM's there!; stripping AM of jewels; & now they're running in surf, in her tangerine pantsuit; RD now an onstage church rock God?; OR f'in STOMPS Sally's climbing fingers; Sally carred down face; "our chief concern is money earning, why can't someone set us free?" - sudden class politics?; biker gang firing on hippies?; biker assass'n interr by T on hang-glider?; "They worship me, and all I touch / hazy-eyed, they catch my glance" - WHY?; "I am the light" - T feels this, or FID?; OR and AM now host a kind of house of decadent TommyLove; (why's she in white pancake makeup?); Uncle Ernie hawking Tommy shit, on portable green organ; Tommy earplugs!; sun-flare right from his crotch as he heals cripples; "How can all this trivia take us to the goal you've reached?"; we came here to be like you (?); "If you want to follow me, you've got to play pinball / And put in your earplugs, put on your eye-shades, you know where to put the cock" (there's NO SEX in Tommy's world); "we don't have to take it!" by the thousands, smashing pinball machines (??); OR stabbed and A-M beer-bottle bludgeoned by newly minted anti-Tommy radicalists at 1h42; RD climbing around huge pinballs (steel or inflatable?); bloodied AM laid out on gutted pinball machine, in her pseudomilitary garb - "See me, feel me, touch me, heal me," and he lays them side by side, wailing as if wanting to be poignant; I'll take Mindcrime; CU on A-M and OR's hands embracing - Tommy's naivete or the film's?; some kind of crushing, head-clutching mad scene among blazing junk heaps (ahem); strips shirt and falls off thin dock in gray, misty lake; swimming in blackish water; "Listenin' to you, I hear the story" - offscreen chorus; now HE's under waterfall; "Listening to you, I get the music... Right behind YOU, I see the millions" - audience flattery, or plain incoherence? still in character or no?; climbing huge diagonal rockface; he's strangely gold-lit, and now he's at orange sunset just like opening shot, this time sun rising; desperate, empty symmetry; this lame song cont over credits;

A N N - M A R G R E T
voluptuous body pouring picnic hot drink, under waterfall, nuzzling lover in slow dance; diaphanous aqua dress; synth pnatomime, kid lying in rubble, AM shaking No; chintzy grief at train station, worried grimace at plane in sky; lots of dropcloths and huge doors in manse, lots of being cold, warming her arms, sleeping in dog kennel; 526; scooping pinballs into missile heads?; 954; wins Legs Contest, looks a bit embarrassed about it; starts singing after 12.30; voice more low and honeyed since Birdie; "I'm glad you like your Uncle Frank"; "I have no reason to be over-optimistic"; hysterical denial that boy saw or heard AM fucking OR, imaged as killing of Dad with lamp; doesn't nail the reaction shots of watching Tommy shoot down planes in arcade game; sort of flings her lower jaw at her angriest lyrics ("how can men who've never seen the light be enlghtened?"; has to sing her way around lyrics like, "Do you think it's all right to leave the boy with cousin Kevin?"; huge bouffant, leaving T by the mirror, cocktail; sings growls the hell out of "Wealth and FAME!"; DiVinyls mesh pants-jumper; what's it all worth in white room; champagne at TV --> suds, Rex beans, shitstorm, she gets horny for tubular pillow; Carnal all over again!; whipping hair to intergalactic raygun sounds; she's huskily jealous of his stares at own reflection; sort of stumbling in circular "Rise" run around white room; but she's so damn OBLIGING, and totally thrown in; AM's on TV hawking Tommy, crosses with pinball replace top of cross; (world domination?); C+

Academy Award Nominations:
Best Actress: Ann-Margret
Best Original Song Score or Adaptation: Pete Townshend

Golden Globe Nominations and Winners:
Best Picture (Musical/Comedy)
Best Actress (Musical/Comedy): Ann-Margret
Best Debut Performance (Male): Roger Daltrey

Permalink Home 1975 ABC Blog E-Mail