A film-by-film
Shagger's Guide!

FESTIVAL SCHEDULE
and FILM NOTES


Plus irreverent commentary by Hollywood-based, British humorist Martin Lewis (co-creator/producer/host of this festival) - with films rated on his personal Shag-ometer! (Pat. Pending)


FRIDAY JULY 7th 2000 - 7:00 PM

Election Year Special!
Presidential Movie Spoof plus Live Satirical Show!


Martin Lewis says: 3 1/2 Shags!

What a brilliant concept for a movie! Of course it's a wonderful insight into the process of aging. When we were very young - we LIKED the idea of not trusting anyone over the age of 30. Once we cross that rubicon ourselves we subtly revise the policy. Now we don't trust anyone UNDER the age of 30!

Incidentally - the first person approached to play the rock star-turned-President was folk troubadour Phil Ochs - who had been looking for some time for a film vehicle. However - on reading the script - he rightly surmised that this was not a scintillating Dr. Strangelove-esque satire on politics - and he sensibly passed. One wishes Phil Ochs was still with us. He would have made a terrific "Bob Roberts."

WILD IN THE STREETS

1968, AIP (MGM/UA), 97 min. Dir. Barry Shear. Astounding, grunge-fueled political satire of a rock star (Christopher Jones) who gets elected President after the voting age is lowered to 15. Along the way, he gets his spaced-out, vegetarian girlfriend (Diane Varsi) elected to Congress, dumps LSD into the Washington, D.C. water supply and sets up concentration camps for everyone over-35! With songs by Brill Building stalwarts Barry Mann & Cynthia Weill, performed by Max Frost & The Troopers, including the thundersome "Shape of Things to Come." Co-starring Hal Holbrook, Shelley Winters, Richard Pryor and Millie Perkins.

Followed by live satirical show...


Martin Lewis says: 4 1/2 Shags!

When we picked "Wild In The Streets" for the festival - we selected it because of its obvious kitsch content. But then I started to thinking about the fun of showing it in a Presidential election year. I thought it might provide a good starting point for an irreverent discussion about the way politics and electioneering has been spoofed in films and TV in the past 40 years. From Pat Paulson's Presidential campaigns to "The Candidate" and "Bob Roberts."

So I decided to ask a few folks to join me for a panel to chat about this topic. It will take place immediately after the film. I think it will be fun...

PRESIDENTIALLY INCORRECT! with MARTIN LEWIS

Plus star guest panel. For star updates - click here for the Celebrity Shagging page!

Humorist Martin Lewis hosts an all-star panel discussion of comics and pundits shining an irreverent spotlight on Presidential politics. (With an appreciative nod to Bill Maher's "Politically Incorrect"!)

FRIDAY JULY 7th 2000 - 9:30 PM

Bedazzling Pete & Dud! - Peter Cook & Dudley Moore Solo Films!!
Producer Walter Shenson In Person!


Martin Lewis says: 4 Shags!

The opening film at last year's festival was Stanley Donen's scintillating 1966 film Bedazzled - written by Peter Cook and starring Peter with his longtime partner in comedic crime - Dudley Moore. We had a wonderful evening - enhanced by the presence of the film's co-star Eleanor Bron - who flew in from London specially for the festival.

We had been wracking our brains for a way to share some more of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore with you. Though there are several other 60's film in which they appear together - such as "The Wrong Box" and "Monte Carlo Or Bust" - those films were not starring vehicles. And then the inspiration... Why not a double bill of the first solo film that each of them made?

The two films in question are both extremely rare - and practically never seen in the USA.

Though the analogy is over-simplistic - and only applies to certain aspects of their work - there is something to be said for comparing the Cook & Moore partnership to the Lennon & McCartney teaming. Cook - like Lennon preferred to pursue his own idiosyncratic vision - demanding that the audience raise itself to appreciate his work. He regarded doing more obviously commercial work as a form of pandering. However Moore - like McCartney - has never seen anything pejorative with producing work accessible to the audience who appreciates his talents.

And in their first solo films one can see certain other parallels to John and Paul.

Cook's solo film "The Rise & Rise Of Michael Rimmer" is an acerbic satire on politicians - reflecting his shrewdly cynical slant on the insincerity of the political process. While not an intensely personal statement like Lennon's first solo album - "Plastic Ono Band" - it is certainly an edgy work compared to the warmer work that Cook had done together with Moore.

Similarly - Moore's first solo film - "30" is a softer, gentler comedy - easier-going on the audience than Cook's film. In that regard it could be compared to McCartney's eponymously-named, homespun first album.

Producer Walter Shenson will be on hand for the screening of "30" and will share some of his memories of the project.

And at the beginning of the program we in the audience will be sending a video greeting to Dudley Moore. (See special box on this page.)

The first draft of Cook's film was written by a pre-Python John Cleese and Graham Chapman - on a summer break from writing for TV host David Frost. When Cook was hired to portray the ruthless lead character - he brought his considerable writing talent to the project.

After the Peter Cook film - perhaps the diehard Cook fans will join me in an 'adjacent hostelry' - and after a couple of pints of British hard cider - I might be pursuaded to tell the untold tale of Peter Cook's brilliant, but regrettably unproduced film spoofing the Presidential campaign of 1988!

30 IS A DANGEROUS AGE, CYNTHIA

1967, Columbia, 84 min. Dir. Joe McGrath. The much-loved Dudley Moore stars as a shy pianist/composer determined to write a fame-generating masterpiece and marry the ideal wife - all before his fast-looming 30th birthday. Dud (who also wrote and performed the film's jazzy score) falls in love with supreme 60's dollybird Suzy Kendall - who subsequently starred off-screen as Dudley's first (real-life) wife!

Dudley Moore and Suzy Kendall

Dudley Moore and his parents at the premier of "Cynthia"


THE RISE & RISE OF MICHAEL RIMMER

U.S. Premiere!

1970, Warner Bros., 101 min. Dir. Kevin Billington. Never released in the U.S., this brilliant Mod satire was commissioned by David Frost in 1966 and written by future Monty Pythoners John Cleese and Graham Chapman - together with BEDAZZLED star Peter Cook. It stars Cook as an efficiency expert who takes over a British advertising agency - and eventually bamboozles his way to becoming Britain's Prime Minister - eliminating everyone in his path. The film co-stars the cream of British 60's comedic talent, including Cleese, Chapman Dennis Price, Arthur Lowe, Ronnie Corbett and playwright Harold Pinter.

Peter Cook


SATURDAY JULY 8th 2000 - 5:00 PM

Lost Psychedelic Treasures Double-Header!!
Olivia Newton-John meets Andy Summers of The Police!!!


Martin Lewis says: 3 1/2 Shags!

Though American audiences didn't discover Olivia until her 1971 chart breakthrough - back in Britain we had already been exposed to her through her multiple appearances on the TV shows of Cliff Richard - the Peter Pan of British pop!

And long before her starring roles in "Grease" and "Xanadu" (!) lovely 'Livvy' had made her movie debut in this cinematic curiosity.

For some reason I still recall seeing the poster for this movie on the walls of the London tube (subway). I think I was curious to see if the band of the title would have anything to do with the (slightly differently-spelled) band Tomorrow - with had featured the legendary Keith West.

A couple of years later I was working as a music journalist - and I was doing an interview with members of Manfred Mann's Earth Band ("Blinded By The Light") On enquiring about the drummer's past he told me about his early life playing in The Squires - the backing band for Tom Jones! (He'd been the drummer on Tom's first hit - "It's Not Unusual"!) And then he mentioned that he'd been in a group with a girl called Olivia and they had made a little film called "Toomorrow"!

And that - quite frankly - was about the last time that anyone has mentioned this film till then! So I felt that I had a duty to locate this film - and see if it is remotely as bad as it sounds!

The drummer incidentally - was Chris Slade - who went on to further fame with The Firm and AC/DC. Bet those AC/DC fans would love to see Chris in this movie!!

TOOMORROW

1970, Rank/Calton, 95 min. Dir. Val Guest. Hard to believe, but this film actually exists! Olivia Newton-John stars as lead singer with grrrooovvy British pop band "Toomorrow" - whose "Josey & The Pussycats"-style tunes draw the attention of music-hungry aliens, the Alphoids (!!) The extra-terrestrials kidnap "Livvy" and bandmates, and transport them to their shimmering, Pop Art space module so they can re-invigorate the astral music scene . TOOMORROW was the unholy offspring of James Bond-producer Harry Saltzman and Monkees music svengali Don Kirshner - directed by noted British helmer Val Guest (THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT, EXPRESSO BONGO.)

(Incidentally - the fictional "Toomorrow" band had no connection to the similarly-named Keith West/Steve Howe band "Tomorrow" who recorded the psychedelic classic "My White Bicycle")

Olivia Newton John


CHANGE IN FESTIVAL PROGRAM!

We had been planning to show the ultra-rare 1968 film "POP DOWN" as a double bill with "TOOMORROW." But the only print we have been able to find turned out to be severely damaged - and cannot be screened.

Instead we are showing another rare film - THE LOVE-INS - which we know will be equally camp and just as enjoyable.

But we are now more determined than ever to find a viewable print of director Fred Marshall's POP DOWN to show at next year's Mods & Rockers festival.

Here are some clues for all you missing movie sleuths!

Our latest detective work tells us that there were several prints floating around London in 1968. And that it was distributed in Australia by United Artists (so there might be some prints or a copy negative in Australia.) Also that a print was sent to a film festival in Rio in 1968 but not returned! There is a reward for whoever helps us find a viewable print or negative of this film!

Click here if you have any tips or leads to share!

THE LOVE-INS

1967, Columbia, 92 min. Dir. Arthur Dreifuss. From teen exploitation wizard Sam Katzman, THE LOVE-INS gleefully rips off Timothy Leary, the hippies and everything in sight, in the story of a straightlaced professor (Richard Todd) who becomes headtripping LSD guru to a mob of impressionable college kids. Stay tuned for the mindblowing "Alice In Wonderland" inspired psychedelic ballet (!), featuring music by the Chocolate Watch Band ("Are You Gonna Be There At the Love-in?") and others. Co-starring James MacArthur ("Hawaii Five-O") and Susan Oliver.

Turn On. Tune In. And Drop jaw in amazement!

SATURDAY JULY 8th 2000 - 9:00 PM

Double-bill! Ultra-Rare Screening!
Only Surviving 35 mm. print of "Candy"!


Martin Lewis says: 5 Shags!

I jumped through hoops to get this film. No one seemed to know who owned the rights. Finally I got a lucky break - I was introduced to Terry Southern's son Nile - and he put me in touch with producer Robert Haggiag in Rome - who was immediately very gracious about us showing the film.

I have such fond memories of this. Fragments of it still echo in my mind over 30 years after the one time I saw it.

The way in which randy guru Marlon Brando searches for Candy's spiritual essence (one thinks of Dear Prudence!) The creative way the bartender opens Candy's bottle of Coke... The way zen-poet Richard Burton's hair is constantly blowing in the wind.... And the gleeful way in which John Astin pronounces that a post-operative patient will have the brain of "an immature 3-year old cucumber..."

This film was certainly not perfect. But it was a bloody good stab at it. And a bloody good stab at some things that needed to be stabbed. Prepare for a treat. Altogether now: "I Want Candy..."

CANDY

1968, Walt Disney, 115 min. Dir. Christian Marquand. One of the most underrated films of the 1960's, CANDY uses the lascivious adventures of your average, innocent, teenage, Scandinavian sexpot (played by doe-eyed Swedish blonde Ewa Aulin) as an opportunity to satirize the American military, 60's hippie idealism, middle-class morality and more. Based on DR. STRANGELOVE writer Terry Southern's notoriously ribald novel (a contemporary take on "Candide" ) adapted by THE GRADUATE screenwriter Buck Henry - CANDY features a jawdropping gallery of players, including Marlon Brando as a horny Maharishi-style guru, Richard Burton as a groupie-swamped zen-poet, James Coburn as a hilariously homicidal doctor, Ringo Starr as a confused gardener, John Huston, Walter Matthau, John Astin and more! Revved-up soundtrack by the Byrds and Steppenwolf.

Marlon Brando




Martin Lewis says: 3 Shags!

I've always been irritated when people give the "I never saw that" answer to the question "have you seen such-and-such film?"

It's a grammatical thing. "I never saw that" implies that the person responding is actually dead - and mooching round heaven in a bar discussing his/her memories of movies seen during the lifetime just spent on Planet Earth.

NEVER SAY NEVER! (Unless of course it is an invitation from an ex-spouse.)

The correct answer to that query (if you have not seen the film in question) is: "I have not thus far in my existence on this planet had the experience of viewing that particular cinematic experience."

The Cool Ones sounds like a fascinating film. I definitely plan to watch it. Why? Well because.... I never saw it!

("Bartender! Another pint of creme de menthe if you please - and put 'a head' on it.... Sure is a nice pub up here in Paradise... The St. Peter's Arms...)

THE COOL ONES

1967, Warner Bros., 96 min. Dir. Gene Nelson. Dig this! Luscious Debbie Watson stars as a frustrated go-go dancer on the Whizbam! TV show who creates a new dance craze, "The Tantrum," when she grabs the microphone mid-show from singer Glen Campbell! Meanwhile, pop idol Gil Peterson (an over-the-hill has-been at 23!) is desperate to get the attention of Phil Spector-ish record producer Roddy McDowall to revive his stalled career . Phenomenal Hollywood pop confection, with songs by the legendary Lee Hazelwood (of Nancy Sinatra "Boots" fame) and performances by The Leaves and underage sensations The Bantams. Go, baby, go!



SUNDAY JULY 9th 2000 - 5:00 PM

Phynx Production team - Survivors' reunion!
In person guests!
Bob Booker (producer), Stan Cornyn (writer) co-star Lou Antonio AND legendary songwriters Jerry Lieber & Mike Stoller!


Martin Lewis says: 3 1/2 Shags!

I never saw this one either! But the list of stars in cameo roles is beyond tempting. How can one resist a film which features Tonto, Colonel Sanders AND Trini Lopez!

By the way - is it just me or does anyone else feel that "KFC" is somehow a less mouth-watering nomenclature than "Kentucky Fried Chicken"?

And how come everyone is licking the loafers of Ricky Martin... slurping the slippers of Enrique Iglesias... fondling the footwear of Marc Anthony - but forgetting the all-time pioneer of the Latin sound. TRINI LOPEZ!

These and other questions will probably NOT be answered at the screening of the Phynx. But I suspect we will have a good time anyway!

THE PHYNX

1970, Warner Bros., 92 min. Dir. Lee H. Katzin. A wonderfully bizarre cinematic nugget of the psychedelic era! "The Phynx" are the ultimate pre-fab pop group - created by computer and catapulted to fame by the CIA (aided by some of Lieber-Stoller's less stellar tunes!) so they can go behind the Iron Curtain and rescue a vast gallery of American cultural heroes kidnapped by those darn Russkies - including Ed Sullivan, Joe Louis, Ruby Keeler, Dorothy Lamour, Trini Lopez, George Jessel, the Bowery Boys' Leo Gorcey,

Busby Berkeley, Guy Lombardo, Trini López, Colonel (KFC) Sanders, Jay (Tonto) Silverheels, Rudy Vallee, Johnny Weissmuller and Xavier Cugat!


SUNDAY JULY 9th 2000 - 7:15 PM

Rock 'n' Roll Heaven!
Double-bill for fans of George Harrison and Led Zeppelin!!!
Rock zeitgeist director Joe Massot - in person!!


Martin Lewis says: 4 Shags!

This was one of our finest hours last year! A packed-out house for this long lost film. Director Joe Massot did a fabulous job restoring his 1968 film - particularly the glorious soundtrack.

In 1968 no one had ever recorded a soundtrack like the score George Harrison created for this film. There were orchestral scores by members of the Henry Mancini/John Barry school of film composition... some contemporary films had jazzy scores by 'newcomers' such as Herbie Hancock or Quincy Jones - and of course some films dropped in a plethora of pop songs. But the notion of creating a score from a fusion of contemporary rock and eastern psychedelicized music was utterly original.

There was no concept of slick marketing in those days - so the soundtrack album wasn't carefully scheduled to be released in conjunction with the movie. No one had seen the film at the time it was released. The album just came out when George wanted to release it! And it was a success in its own right. Being an instrumental score - it was not going to sell like an album of new pop songs - but it was very well received.

And here's another delight for Beatles fans... There is a poem in the film - and until now - the identity of the poet had never been revealed. Director Joe Massot has now disclosed that it was specially written by John Lennon!

I will be getting Joe to tell us the story behind this!

WONDERWALL

Reprise screening by popular demand!

1969, 76 min. Dir. Joe Massot. The standout hit of last year's Mods & Rockers festival - WONDERWALL is an absolutely glorious/meaningless headtripping fantasy about a doddering old professor (Jack MacGowran) who discovers a secret window into the endless sex-life of gorgeous nymph Jane Birkin (Serge Gainsbourg's main squeeze and co-singer of "Je t'aime moi non plus"-!) Featuring a shimmering, sitar-laced score by Beatle George Harrison - including the film's previously lost theme song, rediscovered in Harrison's personal vaults - WONDERWALL is a surreal journey back to the Age of Altered Consciousness.

Plus, Massot's exuberant CinemaScope portrait of Swinging London, "Reflections On Love", 1965, 13 min. featuring definitive London dollybird JennyBoyd (sister of Beatle George's wife Pattie and future wife of Mick Fleetwood)




Martin Lewis says: 3 1/2 Shags!

Now we KNOW that this film is an artifact of the 70's. But it was shot by our good pal Joe Massot - and since he was coming to us from London to accompany "Wonderwall" - it was too good an opportunity to miss. It will also give us the chance to compare the decades. Even the dates on this film tell us a lot. It was shot in 1973 but not released until 1976. But it didn't seem outdated when it came out. This is because the 70's had a greater sense of stasis than the 60's. Developments came much slower. Imagine a film of the Beatles shot in 1963 - being released in 1966. The Beatles had gone through so many changes in that brief span of time - that their 1963 look and sound would have seemed quaint and innocent next to the acid-laced look and sound of their Revolver period.

But 1973 Zeppelin and 1976 Zeppelin didn't look or sound that much different. And that was common for the period.

"There's nothing in the streets - looks any different to me..." was Pete Townshend's shrewd observation about those days. Just "...the beards have all grown longer overnight"

"The Song Remains the Same" was a more apt title than anyone realized at the time....

I am happy to see that Zeppelin's bully-boy manager - the late Peter Grant - will be back on the big screen! Before his Zep management days - he was a pro wrestler. And before that - he was an erstwhile actor! He apparently made a cameo appearance playing "Bob" in a totally obscure 1956 movie called "Alias John Preston." . His acting in that film can't be worse than the way he acted in real life....

He may have been a passionate defender of his artists in the shark-infested waters of the 70's rock business - but he used appalling tactics of physical intimidation and graceless abuse to achieve his ends. How one yearns for the gentlemanly conduct of the Beatles' manager - the great Brian Epstein. He may have been ripped off once or twice - but the Beatles were a far classier act because of his decency. I admire and respect Zeppelin more than I worship them. I guess having a gentlemanly manager would have been a deathblow to them...

THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME

Ultra-rare screening!

1976, Warner Bros., 136 min. Dir. Joe Massot (with Peter Clifton.) We couldn't resist sneaking in one film from the decadent headbanging 70's! Director Joe Massot's epic portrait of Led Zeppelin on tour (and at home) in 1973, captured the band at their Twilight-Of-The-Gods-like peak - stomping through "Stairway To Heaven," "Dazed and Confused," "Whole Lotta Love" and others, interspersed with wildly-bizarre fantasy segments featuring Plant, Page, Bonham and Jones in their acting debuts. Hired and fired several times during production by Zep (who were at their hedonistic height) - director Massot will share some of his choicest memories of touring with the band.

Conversation between films with director Joe Massot.



WEDNESDAY JULY 12th 2000 - 7:00 PM

Incredible String Band & Donovan Hippie-Trippy Extravaganza!!


Martin Lewis says: 4 Shags!

I am so happy to be showing this film! In the late 60's and early 70's I adored the Incredible String Band. (And I still do!) To me they were like an acoustic, progressive-folk version of the late-period Beatles. One of the parallels was that the band was principally formed round the talents of two songwriters with strong personalities. Like White Album-era John and Paul - Mike Heron and Robin Williamson wrote independently - but then came together to add to each other's songs in the studios.

And then Mike and Robin added their girlfriends of the time to their band! Just as Paul McCartney added Linda to Wings - because she was his best pal and how John recorded with Yoko. Those personal bonds meant more to them than the old rules of musicianship.

So Robin's girlfriend Licorice - known as Likky - and Mike's girlfriend Rose - became members of the band.

To return to my Beatles analogy... Imagine if John and Paul had split form the Beatles - and formed a duo. And then chosen to add Yoko and Linda to the group! WOW! And THEN filmed Magical Mystery tour!!!!

Well - that's just what the Incredibles did. And this film is the result of that type of fusion.

Seeing the "Retying The Knot" documentary about them is very instructive., In this day and age - where even the most indie of films only gets made after a lot of of careful planning - it is remarkable to discover just how little pre-planning there was for "Be Glad..." ! It literally was "Hey! Let's make a film tomorrow!"

Now with lesser souls - that would have been a recipe for self-indulgent disaster. But with the Incredibles - it just tapped into a seam of rich creativity. The result is enchanting.

The Donovan film is a wonderful discovery. Karl Ferris was one of the leading photographers on the mid-60's London pop scene. His work with Hendrix and Donovan defined their photographic images for all time.

In that can-do era - making the transition from still photography to moving film was a natural progression. Karl had heard that there was a suggestion to make a short film for television to promote Donovan's forthcoming album. The idea was to make something a little longer than the standard 3-minute promotional film (that we now call music videos) but less than the length of a TV show. In essence a short impressionist film, which would evoke the beauty of the album.

Ferris filmed the short "Wear Your Love Like Heaven" film in the late spring of 1968 - a time when the echoes of the previous summer's halcyon days still lingered on. As the year unfolded it became apparent that the gentle world that Donovan exalted was being forgotten as the hippie dream was trampled underfoot by the vengeful stomp of "tin soldiers and Nixon coming..." "Kent State" and Neil Young's "Ohio" were just two years away - but the mood was changing. This film reminds us of the decent times - before Nixon's paranoid bile suffused our world...

After the film was aired on TV in 1968 - it was placed in a vault - where it has remained until this festival rescued it!

BE GLAD FOR THE SONG HAS NO ENDING

U.S. Premiere!

1969, 50 min. Dir. Peter Neal. Progressive folk-rock ensemble The Incredible String Band counted the Beatles, the Stones, the Who and Zeppelin among their most ardent admirers. Between 1966 and 1974, their exhilaratingly eclectic fusion of rock, folk, Eastern psychedelia and numerous other styles influenced all of the above artists and more. They pioneered world music 20 years before the term was coined. The ultra-rare BE GLAD FOR THE SONG HAS NO ENDING blended an equally diverse range of cinematic styles - including dance, mime, vaudeville and hippie home-movie - into a Magical MYSTICAL Tour-de-force.

RETYING THE KNOT

1997, BBC, 30 min. Dir. Mike Alexander. This BBC-produced documentary of the String Band uses a light touch to trace the enigmatic band's history and captures their recent reunion concerts. Celebrity fans Billy Connolly & Marianne Faithfull wax lyrically about the vastlly underrated band. Mike and Robin offer fascinating insights into the band's erratic career path - and Rose's recollections are even more enlightening. And on top of that there is the uplifting experience of seeing and hearing the two geniuses who were the heart of the band - playing together again.

The Incredible String Band


WEAR YOUR LOVE LIKE HEAVEN

1968, 10 min. Dir. Karl Ferris. Ultra-rare! A surreal, quintessentially-60's fantasy created by Hendrix and Donovan photographer-turned-filmmaker Karl Ferris - to promote Donovan's 1968 "Gift From A Flower To A Garden" boxed set album. Featuring Donovan and quintessential Mod-gal Jenny Boyd (The Beatle-In-Law sister of Pattie Boyd) Shown once on television in 1968 - then lost until this festival!!

WEDNESDAY JULY 12th 2000 - 9:15 PM

Double-Bill Festival Closer!
Director Murray Lerner In Person!!


Martin Lewis says: 5 Shags!

I have known filmmaker Murray Lerner for 15 years. We first met when I was about to go to China with George Michael to produce the film of Wham!'s forthcoming historic tour. Murray had directed the Oscar-winning "From Mao To Mozart" - a documentary about the trip to China of violinist Isaac Stern.

I thought that Murray might offer me some tips. if not about the Chinese - then at least about filming legendary musicians!

I forget now what he told me about China and fiddle players (!) but I found him to be a delightful character. Sardonic, cynical and painfully astute. We became good friends. He started to tell me about his pet project of the past 15 years - the completion of his film of the 1970 Isle Of Wight Festival.

As he showed me the footage I became very excited. It was astonishingly good. But in some ways he was a prisoner of the passage of time. 15 years after an event was still too soon for the footage to be regarded as classic. It was in that no-man's land between instant replay and vintage perspective. It needed a few more years to pass before people would fully appreciate the treasure chest of goodies he had.

He did ask me to come up with some ideas of how he could market the film. I'm the sort of chap that always tries to come up with a fresh spin on a project. My idea was to play down the musical aspect of the film - and play up the brilliant behind-the-scenes aspect. Not in ratio of what was presented on-screen - but in terms of how the film was structured and positioned.

I figured that it would be a hard sell in those cynical times to have a successful theatrical release of a concert picture that would be perceived as simply 16 years late.

BUT... if one treated it almost as though it was a comedy film about a rock festival becoming unhinged - a Spinal Tap-meets-The Producers - in which you happened to have all these real musicians playing themselves - then it might have potential to reach a wider market.

Murray liked the idea in the abstract - but was still - most admirably - wanting to make the definitive festival film. Eventually - he pegged the film to the then forthcoming 25th anniversary of the 1970 festival - and with a commitment from the BBC - managed to complete the film.

It is a magnificent piece. You have the great music, the comedy of backstage terrors and errors - and a stunning insight into What Went Wrong with the sixties. And it wasn't too MUCH love as the blue meanie reactionaries tell us now. If anything - it was too LITTLE love. And the way that the brand-new hippie ideals could not instantly transcend centuries of human greed and nastiness. Just too ingrained I guess....

The theatrical release of this film in the US was very limited and certainly didn't do it justice. And though you can buy the film on video - it really has to be seen on the big screen to be truly appreciated.

Shortly after we met, Murray gave me a treat by screening his rarely-seen 1967 film "Festival!" I was entranced. I'm an old hippie and I love great folk music. This film was like a having all your birthdays at once! One great artist after another. Most intriguing was seeing the two Dylan sequences. The shy, gawky troubadour of 1964 becoming the cooly-detached interloper of 1965. In that year between - Dylan had gained the carnal knowledge of rock 'n' roll. When he plugs in - the whole world will change. And Dylan knows it...

Kewl!!!

FESTIVAL

1966, 98 min. Documentarian Murray Lerner filmed the legendary Newport Folk Festivals from 1963 - 1966, and blended the results into this Oscar-nominated mosaic of the seismic shifts that spawned folk-rock and 60's activism. Included is Bob Dylan's mesmerizing 1964 debut singing "Mr. Tambourine Man" - and the historic scene just one year later at the '65 Festival as an unrepentant Dylan plugged his electric guitar - in accompanied by Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Lerner captures the pivotal moment with the purists reeling - and Dylan rocking. Stellar performances from Joan Baez, Donovan, Judy Collins, Peter Seeger and other denizens of the folk and roots blues scene are intercut with the social tapestry of the Greenwich Village beatniks - then just one stack of Marshall amps short of becoming the Woodstock generation.

MESSAGE TO LOVE: THE 1970 ISLE OF WIGHT FESTIVAL

1996, 128 min. The promoters of the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival agreed to let filmmaker Lerner document their landmark concert event, featuring diamond-hard performances by the Who, Jimi Hendrix, the Doors, Free, ELP, Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell and more played to a festival record crowd of 600,000. However financial and other difficulties prevented the film being completed. 25 years after the festival, Lerner finally secured the funds to complete his film. He brilliantly juxtaposed the legendary performances with the outrageously-funny behind-the-scenes shenanigans of the promoters, and the equally discordant antics of proto-anarchists among the crowd - to etch a darkly-satirical portrait illustrating the downfall of the 60's dream .

Conversation with director Murray Lerner between films

Jimi Hendrix

Joni Mitchell

Jim Morrison



MORE FILMS: WEEK ONE OF THE FESTIVAL...


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