September 20, 2020

1975-04-15 – The Sydney Morning Herald

1975 04 15 The_Sydney_Morning_Herald_Tue__Apr_15__1975_

1 m Mug mtg ma. ms. m '15. ms 1

Nm (Ann-Mlmt) pl


Tommy (Roger Deltny) a

unto his eight. hearing and speech.

Original, noisy,


By HELEN mun.

TOMMY (M, Regent) has
lunatic brilliance. Perhaps
the M rating should stand
for mad instead of mature.
For Tommy is madly origi-
1 ma], madly noisy, madly
musical and madly cruel.

Backed b Robert Stig-
wood and ireeted by Ken
Russell. it is the film of Peter
Townshend’s rock opera,
which was released on record
by The Who in 1969. Roger
Daltrey of The Who plays
the adult Tommy.

This strange tale concerns
an English boy who was
born after his RAF pilot
father was shot: down in the
war. He’s a bright little lad.
but when his Mummy (Ann-
Margret) has a love affair
with a shady character (Oli-
ver Reed) who runs a holi-

day camf. poor little Tommy
its]. ztruc ' deaf. dumb and
m .

He grows up to become
the pinball champion of the
world and the
deaf/dumb/blind Messiah of
a cult. This is an insane
story, and no character in
this weird flim is entirely
sane. "

Everyone. everything, is
distorted, as if in a fun-fair
mirror. Tommy's mother
tries to help her .son, but
lunacy surrounds him.

There is no speech in the
film. Everything is sung —
and the songs are good. The
Quintaphonie Sound goes
beyond sound. Half an hour
after the film's end my ears
were still numbed.

Tommy, the film. mocks
the rock cult and religion.
satirises TV advertising, and
laughs at itself. Ken Russell’s


film images can be blindingly
beautiful or blindingly hor-

rible. There is no in-between.
Russell seems obsessed by

the grotesque. the maimed
and deformed.
Tommy's mother. drunk

and watching TV. sees the
set disgorge its goodies. de-
;ergent, baked beans. choco-

She rolls in the mess. be-
fouling herself. This is a pol-
luting fihn, but a memorable
one. The performances of
Ann-Margret and Roger Dal-
trey stick in the mind.

1 took a teenager to this
film. She knew the story and.
had the records. Afterwards
(making no comment myself)
i asked what she thought of

Her answer: “Very clever
too long udistie.
And why did the little boy.
Tommy. have brown eyes,
when the grown-up Tommy
had blue?"

Why indeed?

NIGHT Flight From Mos-
cow (NRC. Rivoli) is a so-so
offering, all about notorious
spies of the past. Under sus-
picion are two people called
Burger and Lane (Burgess
and Maclean) while Dirk Bo-
garde, who lays the head of
British Intelfigenee. is celled
Philip Boyle. Phil B. Philby.
Get it?

Yul Brynner is the defect-
ing Soviet agent. Vlassov. a
most Abel man indeed in es-
pionage. .

This patchy film has some
moments of excitement, but
drags most of the time. The
real spies of the 50s and 605
were more adept than their
screen counterparts.