In first century Rome, two student friends, Encolpio and Ascilto, argue about ownership of the boy Gitone, divide their belongings and split up. The boy, allowed to choose who he goes with,... See full summary »
Nora Walker is told that her British fighter pilot husband is missing in action and presumed killed in World War II. On V.E. Day, Nora gives birth to their son, who she names Tommy. While Tommy is an adolescent, Nora marries Frank, a shifty camp counselor. Shortly thereafter, Tommy suffers an emotionally traumatic experience associated with his father and step-father, which, based on things told to him at that time, results in him becoming deaf, dumb and blind, a situation which several people exploit for their own pleasure. As Nora tries several things to bring Tommy out of his psychosomatic disabilities, Tommy, now a young man, happens upon pinball as a stimulus. Playing by intuition, Tommy becomes a pinball master, which in turn makes him, and by association Nora and Frank, rich and famous. Nora literally shatters Tommy to his awakening, which ultimately leads to both the family's rise and downfall as people initially try to emulate Tommy's path then rebel against it. Written by
The only film ever to be released using John Mosely "Quintaphonic Sound" system. This used three of the four audio tracks on a Cinemascope-type 4-track magnetic striped print, two of these were expanded by a Sansui QS quadraphonic decoder to provide for left and right front, and left and right back speakers. The third channel fed the screen-center speaker. In addition all three tracks used dbx noise reduction. Quintaphonic sound was never used again because it required expensive striped prints and was commercially eclipsed by the Dolby Stereo system which employed low-cost optical sound prints. Dolby Stereo launched in 1975 with another Ken Russell film - LisztomaniaSee more »
In the "Pinball Wizard" scene, the Who's John Entwistle starts the scene playing a Gibson Flying V bass, and ends it playing a Gibson Thunderbird with a Fender Precision neck (a "Fender-bird"). He also starts the scene with long sideburns, and seems to finish it with a fully-grown beard. See more »
I'm your wicked Uncle Ernie; I'm glad you won't see or hear me, As I fiddle about, fiddle about, fiddle about. Your mother left me here to mind you, And I'm doing exactly what I bleedin' well want to, Fiddling about, fiddling about, fiddle about. Down with your bedclothes, Up with your nightshirt...
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It's been interesting reading all the reviews here for this movie. It seems you either love or hate "Tommy". I find it odd that you could completely hate a movie with the music of "Tommy". If you love the songs there has to be something about it then right?
I happen to be an admirer of the film. It's not a masterpiece but it succeeds more then it fails. Director Ken Russell has brought his weird sensibilities and ideas to the film and made it more a series of scenes then a coherent story. Yes it is bizarre. Yes it is odd. But the music keeps the film alive and flowing.
It seems apparent that Russell the director may have let some scenes run on a bit too long (the Marilyn Monroe worship scene for one), perhaps because he was bereft of ideas. But he always had the music.
The performances range from terrific to downright awful. Ann Margret is the best thing about this movie. Her Oscar nomination was more then deserving. Her fabulous voice went well with the songs she is asked to perform. Oliver Reed was always a dependable performer but he can't sing worth a lick. Either he should have been dubbed or the part re-cast. Roger Daltrey is just fine in the title role. Basically all he does is sing and smile. For the female fans out there he does go shirtless a lot as well.
There are many cameos in the film worth noting. All the members of The Who are seen though only Keith Moon has a role to speak of. Pete Townshend and John Entwistle are relegated to performing on stage in the worship scene. Tina Turner is the Acid Queen in a bizarre scene that doesn't quite work. Jack Nicholson (and this may be the only time this can be said about him) may be the worst thing in the whole movie. His role as a doctor is short but not so sweet. He sings but is a terrible singer. It's an embarrassing scene and no surprise that he never mentions this role. Paul Nicholas, as cousin Kevin, who babysits Tommy and subsequently tortures him is terrific.
On the whole most of the sequences work. For me the two best sequences are the pinball wizard tournament (with Elton John) and the making of a groupie sequence. And just remember, it's all in the music.
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