Saturday, June 02, 2007

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band...the movie

I was planning on talking about this movie earlier but put it off. Seeing this post at Booksteve's Library reminded me that I had not yet written about it. I saw this movie when it first came out years ago in the late 1970's and hated it. For some reason I was thinking about it recently and saw it was available at my local library. I checked it out and watched it to see if it was as bad as I remembered. Now this was not a musical in the traditional sense. It was a rock opera where most of the story is told by the songs. Music videos had not been invented (or should I say discovered?) yet so music lovers had to get to see their favorite bands either in concert, on TV shows or in movies.
The movie starred my now neighbor across the river Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees. When the acts were signed it was to showcase Peter Frampton as he recently had the best selling live album of all time. By the time the movie came out his star was falling and the Bee Gees had reached their height of fame. So most were going to see and hear the Bee Gees. Others in the film are Frankie Howard, Sandy Farina (she has a beautiful voice as she sings "Here Comes the Sun"), Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, Earth, Wind and Fire, Paul Nicholas (known for his hit song "Heaven on the 7th Floor), Billy Preston, Steve Martin and George Burns.
Now at the time Steve Martin was considered a Rock and Roll comic so I understand why he was in it and by playing Dr. Maxwell Edison it probably gave him insight on how to play the dentist in the movie Little Shop of Horrors. But I always wondered why George Burns was in it. At the time he was being offered many movie roles due to winning the Oscar for the Sunshine Boys so I guess this movie could come up with the amount of money that he asked for. Another possible reason is that George Burns was a frustrated musician. The story that I have heard is that Mr. Burns started out as a singer. One night he was sick and not able to sing at the theater where he was booked. The theater owner threatened him with a lawsuit so he sang for the audience. Since then he ruined his voice and was not able to sing very well after that so he turned to comedy. Of course Mr. Burns did enjoy a late career in music and I am sure that he loved that he got to sing "I'm Fixing A Hole" in the film.
George Burns played Mr. Kite the Mayor of Heartland and as the narrator he holds the film together with the only spoken part in the movie. Sgt. Pepper and his Lonely Hearts Club Band are war heroes for helping to end the world war with their music. When Sgt. Pepper dies he leaves his band to be reformed by his grandson Billy Shears (Peter Frampton) much to the chagrin of Billy's brother Dougie. When he is older Billy does reform the band with his friends the three Henderson Brothers Mark, David and Bob (the Bee Gees). Dougie is made the bands manager. Sandy Farina plays Billy's girlfriend named...Strawberry Fields.

The film starts with the band making it big and B.D., played by Donald Pleasence, of Big Deal Records offers them a contract. I thought that this might be better then I remembered as it seemed to be a movie about four small town boys who hit it big and get use to their new success. However, it quickly falls as while they are gone Mean Mr. Mustard played by Frankie Howard comes in and steals the original band instrumnts as they are magical and as long as they remain together in Heartland peace will rein over the world. He divides them up and Strawberry Fields leaves town to get Billy and the Hendersons to find them and win back the town. During the final battle it seems like it will have a sad ending as the good guys win but at a terrible price with the death of Strawberry Fields. Suddenly by magic the weather vane of Sgt. Peppers comes to life in the form of, the only person in the movie who had anything to do with the song he sings, Billy Preston. Billy sings "Get Back", he played on the song with the Beatles, and magically brings Strawberry back to life.

This is the only Rock Opera I have ever seen. While it was not as bad as I remembered it still was not that good. One day I hope to see the one that The Who made as I have heard they are the best.

One thing struck me as I saw this movie. Barry Gibb looked great on the screen. He didn't say anything so I don't know how well he can act. If he can he could have had a great career in the movies. Then again maybe not. With the exceptions of Ringo, Phil Collins and Roger Daltry most rock stars don't do to well as actors.

When it came out much was said about the sountrack. George Martin was hired as the musical director and he said he stayed true to the songs. However, my friend Jeff was livid at what they did with the song "Got to Get You Into My Life" when it was preformed by Earth, Wind and Fire. It was turned into a dance tune. Someone must have liked it as it was a hit on the Billboard charts as was Aerosmith's version of "Come Together."

The ending was fun as it tried to emulate the cover of the Beatles album. It have every pop culture figure from the 1970's, from Peter Allen and Keith Carradine to Wolfman Jack and Gary Wright, in a group shot singing the repraise.

If you have never seen this then you should get the DVD to see this time capsule of 1970's pop culture. Just don't expect it to be like Tommy.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Star Wars Memories

Well until a few days ago it escaped my attention that this month was the 30th anniversary of the first Star Wars. Now many refer to it as A New Hope. However, until the first prequel everyone refered to it as Star Wars. I have always been a science fiction fan and Star Trek is my all time favorite. These days good science fiction is everywhere but in the 1970's the best sci-fi was from the 1960s Star Trek and even it was starting to look dated. Then came George Lucas and Star Wars.

I remember seeing the TV commercials for it but they weren't aired that much and it didn't seem to be showing in any theatre near me. A few weeks later my cousin Steve called. He had seen in at a theater too far for me to travel but saw that it was playing now closer to my home as it had opened in wider release. They had not expected this little science fiction film to do well but it did so they released it to more theaters. He wanted to see it again and asked me to go with him. Neither of us had our license to drive so he took the bus to my house and we walked almost a mile to the theater. Along the way he took a picture of me as a memory of that day. We got there and it was being treated as a bigger event then any movie I had seen at that time. I had never been to a movie where they gave away anything then and they were giving away a booklet with photos from the movie. Once inside as the movie began my bounderies of my imagination were streached as I saw the best science fiction movie I have ever seen. THanks to Star Wars the Star Trek franchise was given new life. Star Trek fans had been wanting a big budget movie version for years but Hollywood didn't think there was any money to be made from it. Syndication had encreased its fan base and with Star Wars a hit it wasn't long before the Star Trek franchise was given the green light for a movie. But back to Star Wars.

A few months later I was old enough to drive and took a part time job at that very theater as an usher. I was there to see one of the first people ever to dress as Darth Vader for Halloween. He just came in on a slow night and shook hands and waved to the people there and left. We never did know who it was who showed up that night. In May of the following year we celebrated the 1 year anniversay of Star Wars at that theater.
When I worked there they allowed us to take our breaks and go into the movies to watch them for a bit. It seemed that no matter when I took my break I would always see the scene with Luke and the gang about to be crushed with the garbage. No matter how hard I tried to time it to see another scene it was always the garbage scene. I almost got tired of seeing it. Eventually I did see other scenes on my breaks. Most of the time when I saw the film it was with someone who had already seen the movie. However, there was one time when I introduced someone to the movie for the first time. I took my friend Linda to a school dance. Half way through the dance we were bored and decided to leave. During our conversation on the way tomy car I found out that she had never seen Star Wars. So that is where I took her for the rest of the night. It was also the first of thankfully few times I was pulled over by the police. On the way to the movie he said I went through a red light. I truthfully told him I thought it was green and when he asked Linda what color she thought it was she said was looking for a tape to put in the 8-track (remember them?) player. I guess he didn't get a good look at the light so he let us go. Anyway I saw the film about 7 or 8 times. 7 times with seeing it with friends and dates and if you add up all the scenes I saw on my breaks you can add on an additional time to make it 8.
So this month is its 30th anniversary and as Bob Hope would say to George Lucas "Thanks for the memories."
Happy Anniversary Star Wars.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Fall Guy Complete First Season on DVD

The complete first season of the Fall Guy with Lee Majors and company will be release on June 5th. So order now to see Colt Seavers stop the bad guys. Click Here to buy the Fall Guy the complete first season. I have loved Lee Majors in almost everything. This was a high concept series with Lee as stuntman Colt Seavers who makes a part-time living as a bounty hunter. Jo Ann Pflug and Markie Post are the court officers who hire him to track the crooks who jump their bail. Not much more needs to be said about the series but if you like 80's action then this is the series for you. If anyone wants to send me a copy of this for me to review this DVD set I will.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Scandal series has been waiting a bit longer to resend their series on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But they will be sending it soon. So if you want to see why your favorite preformers have not made it into the rock and roll hall of fame. Then send an e-mail to and subscribe to their newsletter. The series talks about the Hall of Fame scandal on how the votes are counted.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Graduation Day

Today is the last day of school this year for many students. Also, for some this is graduation day for many meaning that it may be their last day of school...forever! On this day I would like to share with you a poem that I wrote about my high school graduation.

It's a sad thing
A sad thing
To be leaving home after oh so long
But it's a good thing
A good thing
To find a brand new life where you belong
Look at all your friends as you pass them by
They all feel the same as you do
They are all just standing in line
Cause they're going through it too
Just sit and look back
and look back
and think of all the good times that you've had
and when you look back
and look back
remember even the bad times weren't so bad
but it's a sad thing
a sad thing
to be leaving home after oh so long
but it's a good thing
a good thing
to find a brand new life where you belong.

Good luck graduates and I hope all your hopes and dreams come true.