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Cocksucker Blues (1972)

This fly-on-the-wall documentary follows the Rolling Stones on their 1972 North American Tour, their first return to the States since the tragedy at Altamont. Because of the free-form ... See full summary »

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Storyline

This fly-on-the-wall documentary follows the Rolling Stones on their 1972 North American Tour, their first return to the States since the tragedy at Altamont. Because of the free-form nature of filming, Cocksucker Blues captured band members and entourage members taking part in events the Rolling Stones preferred not to publicize. It can only legally be screened with director Robert Frank in attendance. The title of the film is the same of that of a Rolling Stones song (aka Schoolboy Blues), which was written to complete the band's contractual obligations to Decca Records and specifically to be unreleasable. Written by Zack Kushner

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April 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

CS Blues  »

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Trivia

The Rolling Stones were upset by this film's portrayal of them and sued to prevent its release. The film is under a court order that only allows it to be shown once a year with director Robert Frank present in person. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Let's Make Lemonade (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

If You've Got Time (To Say Goodbye)
(uncredited)
Written and Performed by Merle Haggard
(played during the poker game)
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User Reviews

 
a document of its time and place, very rough, and not too surprising it hasn't gotten an official release
19 April 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Like a handful of Rolling Stones fans, I found the film C***sucker Blues through bootlegging. There was just no other way around it; there has been so much written about how this was the 'unreleased' Stones documentary, that it was much too controversial and shocking to be released- had actual sex and drugs really depicted hardcore without a flinching camera lid- and that it was even suppressed by Mick Jagger and the Stones. Having now seen the film, it becomes clear that it isn't unfair to figure on why it never seen the official light of public day. It is pretty graphic with the sex (chiefly on a plane we see some groupies getting it on with some members of the Stones crew, I don't think they were the Stones themselves having the sex, although they were hilariously shaking tambourines and beating drums like some tribal ritual), casual with pornographic detail in the nudity, and the drug use- primarily coke and heroin but also a little grass- is all real and done almost like it's nothing at all.

So, to play devil's advocate, there is a reason for the Stones why something like this wouldn't be good for their 'image', whatever that might be, as opposed to Gimme Shelter which despite the Altamont nightmare was crafted by true masters of the documentary craft (the Maysles brothers), where as director Robert Frank crafted a scatter-shot, collage-like assemblage of footage, veering between avant-garde and home movie. Maybe it could have gotten a release in a true underground level, but the fact was, and remains, that they are one of the biggest bands ever, regardless of their notorious times.

And yet, there is also another argument, and this even more-so could be said for today, that C***sucker Blues, in revealing what's shocking mixed with the banal dealings of hotel rooms and the fly-on-the-wall style on back-stage, is important in retrospect. This way of rock and roll life simply doesn't exist anymore, with the BIG press being Dick Cavett and the sex and drugs and groupies just there, and the attitudes so casual. It's seeing life on the road and life in the hotel rooms and life on the stage and in little private moments with this band and those around them, and on a pure rock and roll movie level it's definitely the most primitive in construction. Artistry, however brief (i.e. slow-motion shots of a Exile on Main Street billboard), gives way to Frank just being there and getting everything he can, however mundane it might seem to be. Why not let today's audiences, more than three decades later, take a view into the unfiltered time capsule?

Granted, as mentioned, Frank is no Maysles, so the camera-work sometimes looks amateurish (the sound guys occasionally tap the microphone just so that the editor probably knew where to cut) and, sadly, it's probably not too much of a wonder why he didn't work again outside of the lowest of low-budget art-house pictures and shorts. But he does manage to capture, for those Stones fans who would be so dedicated to seek out the film (or, for that matter, be one of the two dozen more or less that get to see it at private screenings commissioned by the Stones each year) not just some of the finest/craziest moments in Stones history (i.e. Richards and friends, in now as a cliché today, throwing the TV out the hotel room window), but just rock in general.

Contrary to what Jagger said in a recent interview about one of the reasons he clashed with Frank, that there wasn't enough live music footage, there's a good plenty of live performances, if maybe not as many as some fans might expect. There's awesome cuts of Brown Sugar, half of an intense Midnight Rambler, Happy, Street Fighting Man. But probably most joyous of all is seeing, almost as a total surprise, Stevie Wonder playing a kind of medley with the Stones, starting with Uptight (Everything is Alright) and going into Satisfaction. This is pure musical ecstasy, of people going full-throttle to put on a show for the crowds, but also just digging the music so much that it looks like nothing else matters. If only for scenes like that, amid the masses of footage of the randomness and fun and down time of touring, is C***sucker Blues an achievement worth seeking this dangerous, crude piece of non-fiction. 8.5/10


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