August 14, 2003

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

pepper.jpg#92 on the IMDB bottom 100 films. We were going through some of our vinyl recently and listened to the Beatles albums that spawned this movie and I got a hankering to see it again (I saw it in the theatre when it came out!) The library had a copy (on tape) and Becky's off visiting Rosalind (and Steve & Hazel) so I feel like I can waste time watching really dumb movies ;-)

But it's weird because I think it's actually pretty good. (Not literally "pretty good" which is Becky's and my shorthand for 3 stars. Stars-wise it's more like "okay" or "okay plus" (2 or 2-1/2)). The deal is that they took all the songs on the Beatles albums Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Abbey Road and a few other songs and used them as the score for a pop music opera. Even though all the Beatles were still alive when this was made (1978), none of them wanted to be in it so instead the producers enlisted the Bee Gees, fresh off their success with the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, and squared out the quartet with Peter Frampton. It's a testament to the surreality of the Lennon & McCartney lyrics that they form the only dialogue in the movie with the exception of some sparse narration spoken by George Burns (who sounds just like Peter Falk in The Princess Bride. Or Falk sounds like Burns, I guess.)

The bands involved all do acceptable covers of the Beatles tunes. The Earth Wind and Fire rendition of "Got To Get You Into My Life" is excellent. Aerosmith does nice work with "Come Together" and Alice Cooper contributes a creepy rendition of "Because". Steve Martin performs "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" in his late 70s pre-The Jerk persona.

There's an impressive number of music, tv, and movie personality cameos in the movie-ending number. Check out the list on the IMDB (click the poster as always) under "Our Guests at Heartland".

The movie makes about as much sense as any musical (there's even a brief hoedown scene ;-). As a historical document of the late seventies movie musical boom, it's really kind of fun. That boom was largely the work of producer Robert Stigwood who did this one as well as Jesus Christ Superstar (1973), Tommy (1975), Saturday Night Fever (1977), and Grease (1978)

If you can, see a letterboxed version (the DVD is) as there are quite a few scenes that suffer under pan and scan.

Posted by jeffy at August 14, 2003 11:14 PM
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