9 – Tommy – The Guardian’s Top Ten Movie Musicals

Movie Musicals are as popular today as they were back in the twenties when sound was first introduced to cinema.
In December 2013 The Guardian Newspaper published their list of the Top Ten Movie Musicals.
Here is what the Guardian’s critics have to say, what we at Actor Hub think of each choice and some of your thoughts (via Amazon’s reviews).
If you agree or disagree please let us know via Twitter @actorhub.
Read the original article on the Guardian’s website.

#9 Tommy – Top Ten Film Musicals

What The Guardian Said:

The most excessive movie by the most excessive director of the most excessive decade of the 20th century, Tommy is the madly outlandish pinnacle of 70s rock-opera. It stars a sizable complement of British rock aristocracy – the Who, obviously, Eric Clapton, Elton John – under the insane generalship of Ken Russell in excelsis.
Russell was fresh off his Mahler biopic, in retrospect the last of his conventional (the term is elastic with Ken) musical biographies that began at the BBC with his profiles of Delius and Elgar, and continued on the big screen with Tchaikovsky in The Music Lover. By the time he came to make his movie about Franz Liszt in 1975, he had passed through the creative furnace that was Tommy and was making a whole different kind of movie. Russell adapted the Who’s concept album himself, and gave free rein to his wildest instincts.
Tommy, the original album, was, like Pink Floyd’s The Wall, a war baby’s angry lament that never really made a lot of sense in narrative terms, but Russell found the showpiece songs and mounted many of them with extraordinary vitality and panache. Unforgettable moments include Pinball Wizard with Elton John in mile-high green bovver boots; Tina Turner’s demented appearance as the Acid Queen, whose terrifying, Metropolis-style syringe-robot-sarcophagus fails to trip Tommy out of his deaf-dumb-and-blind catatonia (who the hell injects acid, anyway?) and Ann-Margret, a loooong way from Bye Bye Birdie, as she imagines an exploding TV that ejaculates baked beans, chocolate and soap powder all over her writhing body, bringing to bizarre and unsettling life the artwork for The Who Sell Out.
Worth noting: Ken Russell. And Oliver Reed. And Keith Moon – all on the same movie set, a recipe for utter mayhem! John Patterson

What We Think:

The Who’s Tommy was the first musical work to be dubbed a ‘rock opera’ and six years after the album came out the eccentric British director Ken Russell directed this movie version with an all star cast including Tina Turner, Elton John, Olly Reed and Jack Nicholson. The movie is a cheesy, culty, psychadelic delight full of weird and wonderful sequences and a kaleidoscope of colours and extravagant costumes!
The entire movie is pretty much told through song.
The movie is full of hugely theatrical set-pieces and this is the films greatest strength. At times the story can seem disjointed and lost but the individual set pieces are a wonder to behold. Tina Turner morphing into an iron maiden with syringes of drugs instead of spikes, Elton John as the Pinball Wizard with platform boots big enough to knock down a brick wall, and who can forget Tommy’s Mum Nora (Ann Margaret) swimming in chocolate, beans and laundry detergent!
Ken Russell wanted to put on a show which no one would forget and he certainly did! Nothing is too much or going too far!
The songs are excellent, the cast give it their all altough the non-actors can be easy to spot. The only downside is the story which is a bit weak at times but can be forgiven thanks to the glorious camp kitchery of the whole thing! ActorHub
Trivia Fans:
  • The original choice for the Acid Queen sequence was David Bowie
  • Elton John agreed to play The Pinball Wizard on the condition that he could keep the boots!
  • Ken Russell makes two director cameos: He is one of the cripples during the Eyesight to the Blind/Marilyn Monroe sequence and can also be seen in the Tommys Holiday Camp sequence in the junkyard at the end of the film. He’s in a wheelchair.

What You Think:

The Top Ten Movie Musicals