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 scene of Mrs Walker's hallucination of soap, beans, and chocolate coming out of the TV set took three days to film. According to Russell's DVD commentary, the baked bean and detergent scenes (and the Rex Baked Beans parody ad) were 'revenge' for real-life baked bean and detergent ads he had made early in his career. Russell also recalled that Ann-Margret's husband objected to her rolling around in the chocolate and that she cut her hand badly on the glass of the TV screen and he had to take her to hospital to have her hand stitched, but was back on set the next day. See more »
During the Christmas party when Frank Hobbs whips the mask off his face, the young actor playing Tommy noticeably winces, which he shouldn't do if he were deaf, dumb, and blind. See more »
[She starts singing]
If your child ain't all he should be now, this girl will put him right. I'll show him what he could be now, just give me one more night!
I'm the gypsy; the Acid Queen! Pay me before I start. I'm the gypsy, I'm guaranteed... to tear his soul apart!
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My older brother bought an LP The Who's "Tommy" in the 60's. I was very young but I liked it. It was a project ahead of its time. In the 70's I had a fantastic music teacher who played music soundtracks of several rock artists for my class, included was The Who's Tommy which I remembered immediately. Three years later, this movie came out directed by Ken Russell. I didn't get it at all. I loved the new soundtrack, still do. I loved the performances in the movie by Elton John and Tina Turner. But as a young teen, the movie I didn't get. Well, 20 years went by and on cable I saw Tommy again. This time, I got it. I understood what Ken Russell's vision was and for 1975 it was WAY ahead of its time. It is, in fact, a brilliant masterpiece of 20th Century pop culture: a brave, warped and cartoon mixture of sex, violence, war, religion and celebrity worship with the backdrop of one heck of a rock opera and story by The Who but focusing on the burning questions...what IS the central focus in our lives? Do we choose to look up to the right thing in our lives? And what do they look up to? Do they understand the power they have? Do we? Tommy is an experience in film, not for everyone. Its "out there" but a vision in its tale.
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