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Naw, actually, it was twenty-FIVE years ago today, that producer Robert
Stigwood had a flea placed in his ear by SOMEBODY, (maybe
Dee Anthony, who repped both the Bee Gees AND Peter Frampton at the
and the flea said: "What is the greatest rock-and-roll album of all time?
Who right now are the greatest, most popular music stars? And how can you
possibly lose if you combine them both?"
Answer that question with a question: How could you possibly WIN???
To those who decry the defacing of a sacred cow, first of all, and pay close attention to this, people: THIS MOVIE IS A PRODUCT OF ITS TIME. Nothing in the late Seventies succeeded (or exceeded, as it were) like excess. If big was good, then bigger was even better, and the King of Media Overkill was Robert Stigwood at this period. Which was his standout quality, and his company's undoing. (Not to mention the undoing of quite a few careers along the way.)
Second of all, as it has already been pointed out, the timing SUCKED, even moreso than the movie itself. The SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER backlash was just beginning with PEPPER'S release, and even though Peter Frampton had proven himself still able to chart with such current hits as his cover of "Signed, Sealed and Delivered" and "I'm In You," (please hold your snickers), his album sales had begun to wane, a surefire indicator that his status as a pretty-boy guitar god was fading fast.
For the most part, the audience demographic the movie was aimed at was served as well as they could be. None of the teenybopper females in the theater audience I saw it with, (yes, I DID see it in a theater), gave one whisker on a rat's bee-hind that the album the movie was derived from was a classic, or that George Martin actually produced the soundtrack (well, most of it.) They sighed in rapture on cue when a dreamy closeup of The Brothers Gibb or Frampton came whizzing by, or sobbed uncontrollably at the 'oh-my-GAWD-this-is-so-maudlin' ending. I swear, THIS is the audience the producers should've seen it with, when the reviews came in chopping the entire project to shreds.
So, for a movie that represents everything that was both bad AND good about That Decade simultaneously, was there anything of merit to observe? YES. First of all, for the most expensive musical ever made in its day ("tupping the bill" at a whopping $60 mil plus), every cent is evident on-screen. Owen Roizman (who shot THE EXORCIST) managed to get every shot right, even if the pastels were enough at times to send an epileptic into grand mal seizures, and there was enough condescending sweetness for twelve diabetic comas.
Also, contrary to the rabid rantings of Beatlemaniacs everywhere, the soundtrack is the best part of the movie. I guess what makes it so hard for most people to watch, are the scenes that are almost painful indicators of what the movie COULD'VE been, because the energy and drive is so different from the rest of the goings-on.
Meaning Aerosmith's ball-busting cover of "Come Together," the finger-snapping, funk-injected "Got To Get You Into My Life" from Earth, Wind and Fire, and Steve Martin's super-manic "Maxwell's Silver Hammer," echoing his even better turn to come in LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS. No matter how much the remainder may induce severe bouts of wincing and cringing, these moments almost redeem Henry Edwards' "Yellow-Submarine-on-peyote-buttons" screenplay. ALMOST.
I bought this (and I'd be embarassed to tell you how much I spent) for a So-Bad-It's-Good movie party I decided to throw for some friends on New Year's Eve. Just to see if it was as bad as I remembered, (and as bad as people have credited it to be), I gave it a spin just for old time's sake. Time does heal old wounds, I guess, and as much as I snickered, groaned and chortled at the outlandishness of it all, I have to admit that at the very least, I was entertained. Kind of like when you're watching virtually nothing on Saturday night, until a rerun of "Donnie and Marie" comes on Nick At Night. And though you'd never tell your friends you did, you watched every painfully corny moment of it...and actually enjoyed it.
So that's how I think of PEPPER now, as a very secretively guilty pleasure.
And for those reading that last line and yelling "Is he CRAZY??? This is the BLACK HOLE OF MUSICALS!!" I can only say this: you have not lived as long as I have, or seen as many movies to be able to make that statement with any kind of confidence.
How do I know? Let me ask you: have you ever seen the musical version of LOST HORIZON? Mae West in SEXTETTE? Lucille Ball in MAME? Go sit through even ONE of those, boys and girls. I dare you. We can talk about really bad musicals after you've weathered THAT ordeal. I did...and lived to tell about it.
In 1978, when I was 12 years old, we were living in Moscow, while my
was stationed at the Canadian Embassy. To escape the "fun" of living
the Iron Curtain, we routinely took the Moscow-Helsinki express and
travelled around Scandinavia. Our trip always ended at this huge
store in Helsinki, where we'd order all our non-perishable groceries until
our next trip. My brother and I were allowed to purchase one record apiece
to take back with us.
So one time, I picked up the soundtrack to this film. I don't think the movie had been released yet. Goodness knows, I didn't know that the movie was going to be a howler. All I know is that I loved the soundtrack. I listened to it over and over, and pored over the photographs on the album cover, trying to get a sense of the movie.
A few years later, I read "The Golden Turkey Awards" and then I started to realize how bad the movie was. I didn't get my chance to see it until 1997. Oh, it stunk! Cheese everywhere, from the awkward love story to the campy antics of the villain and his robots.
And yet, I watch it every time it comes on TV. Finally, I have the movie to go with the soundtrack. And let's face it - I love cheesy movies.
I saw this movie three times as a teenager. This was before I had
listened to the Beatles very much. I loved the movie and I even owned
At forty-four, I have heard the Beatles, seen the fall of the BeeGees and seen the stubborn persistence of an almost geriatric Aerosmith. They are indeed the "Future Villain Band".
Love the Beatles? You will hate this movie. Interested in a simpler time when the hair of rock stars sits in a quiet mass atop the head as if waiting to attack (check out Barry Gibb...or is it Maurice?)? Interested in hearing music that you grew up with and loved torn to pieces by dupes of producers that no longer cared if what they made was good...only profitable? Then, this is the movie for you as well...
Songs done well: Come Together, Got to Get You into My Life, Strawberry Fields and I'll Never Do You No Harm...
Songs that didn't stink: Lucy in the Sky, You never Give me Your Money and A Day in the Life...
Songs that were killed and the corpses urinated upon: When I'm Sixty-four, Fixing a Hole, Mister Mustard and Because...
Am I the only one who liked this movie? After hearing nothing but bad press about it for years, I finally went out and saw it. I thought it was one of the most fun flicks I'd seen in years. All the characters were named after Beatles songs! Starring Billy Shears (Peter Frampton) and the Hendersons (the Bee Gees) "were all there" as well, "Sgt. Pepper" featured Strawberry Fields (Sandy Farina) as Billy's leading lady, and Mr. Mustard (Frank Howerd) was "such a mean old man." Let's not forget Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (Dianne Steinberg), the Sun King (Alice Cooper), and Sgt. Pepper played by an old Beatles protege (Billy Preston). The movie also depicted countless cover versions of Beatles songs, including Earth Wind & Fire's "Got to Get You Into My Life." As the narrator, Mr. Kite (George Burns) even covered "Fixin' a Hole." Critics of the movie should be so critical"when they're 64," let alone 82! Sure, the plot wasn't worthy of a Kubrick screenplay, but what could be more accurate than explaining how corporatism is anathema to the fun of music, and how profound an impact the Beatles had on later artists. Look for Dame Edna (Barry Humphries) in one of the many crowd scenes. I have one final case for "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." It had one of my favourite comedians (Steve Martin) singing one of my favourite Beatles songs (Maxwell's Silver Hammer). I'm picking out a thermos for this movie!
This movie makes Magical Mystery Tour look like Citizen Kane. Hokey! Corny! Horrible! Do yourself a favor and just fast forward to Aerosmith's performance. What a way to Dis the Beatles. George Martin should be ashamed of himself! This movie could have been made by Fellini. It's one freak show after another. Just when you think it's bad, George Burns gets up and sings "Fixing a Hole". He sure fixed the holes in the sides of my head...my ears bled for a week. A better use of this movie would be as a public service to keep kids off of drugs. Peter Frampton is such a dork that he actually makes the Bee Gees look cool. That should get an award in itself. The sets were so cheesy I was expecting Henrietta Hippo and that green frog to pop out from the New Zoo Review. Maybe this movie is really just for three year-olds. Yeah, that's the ticket.
I stumbled across an unlicensed videocassette of the film Sgt. Pepper's
Lonely Hearts Club Band, starring Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees.
Being a pop-culture junkie I had to have it. It ranks up there with the
worst movies of all time - absolutely everything about it was poorly
thought out. The basic premise is that they took all these Beatle's
songs and strung them together to make a story, so the characters had
to come from names or words from Beatle's songs: for instance,
Frampton's character (the lead singer for the Lonely Hearts Club Band)
is Billy Shears (if you'll recall Billy Shears is introduced by the
Beatles at the beginning of Sgt. Pepper as the singer of 'get by with a
little help from my friends... etc.). His girlfriend is named
Strawberry Fields (any guesses where that came from?) Later he is
tempted by Lucy, from the female rock band Lucy in the Sky with
Diamonds (I'm really not kidding), and happiness is threatened by Mean
Mr. Mustard, who abducts Strawberry, and also Dr. Maxwell Edison
(majoring in medicine with silver hammers). Although they sing 'Nowhere
Man' and 'Polythene Pam' these names do not appear as characters
somehow. There are about 20 Beatles songs in the movie not sung by the
Beatles, and the lead characters never speak - all the narration is
done by Mr. Kite ('a benefit for Mr. Kite' and yes there is such a
benefit) played by George Burns who even dons a guitar to sing 'fixing
a hole'. There are almost no words to describe how awful this film is.
Everything about it was a complete disaster, although the Beatles'
songs are all familiar and delightful, they are delivered in a context
that simply doesn't work (for instance there are a couple of melancholy
songs sung - 'long and winding road' etc. after Strawberry is killed in
a fight with Aerosmith). One of the sublime moments was when Strawberry
Fields sings 'Strawberry Fields Forever'. She's singing to herself
about herself. Forever. Fantastic.
Production values were high - they spent a lot of money on this fantasy. It lost all of its investment and Peter Frampton, who's performance has to be seen to be believed (the cast of 'Punky Brewster' seems almost Shakespearean in comparison) was so embarrassed that he bought almost all of the prints back to have them destroyed for posterity's sake. But some got away, and I got my cassette. What a treasure.
I have a very hard time believe that people do not like this movie. The
storyline isn't wonderful, but it is passable. You can't watch this
movie and expect it to be like an Oscar winner.
You WILL be disappointed.
I am sure of that.
The music is AMAZING, though, and that is what counts. Not to mention the star studded cast. Earth Wind and Fire, Peter Frampton, The Bee Gees, Aerosmith, and more. It is one of my favorite movies of all time. Any fan of the Beatles or music in general probably feels the same way.
To all the people that voted 10, I salute you. To all the people that voted 1, rethink your lives.
Someone must have noticed that "Yellow Submarine" made money. That same
person also noticed that the Bee Gees were popular. Put a popular disco
group and popular Beatles songs together, and: magic???
Well, not really. This film hurts. It hurts all the more if one likes the Beatles' originals of these songs (OK, Aerosmith did a decent version of "Come Together," but that is not enough to mitigate the damage caused by the rest of the performances).
There are certain films that seem to be made just to put the tolerance of a badfilm watcher to the test. This film has its place in that pantheon, right between "Can't Stop the Music" and "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians."
This movie is like a trainwreck. You don't want to watch, but its impossible to resist. Some of the songs aren't bad at all! Earth Wind & Fire and Aerosmith turn in excellent performances. Overall the movie is so over the top and campy, that you can't possibly take as anything but a somewhat fun romp, the likes of which we will never see again.I can only speculate on the amount of drugs that were consumed on the set of this movie..haha. The ending has to be seen to be believed. A crowd of 70's personalities and musicians on a platform singing Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. I can only imagine what the 70's were like to live through, but if this is any indication...LOL...
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
One of those films that's liable to set off a fan of classic rock (namely, The Beatles), this is a phantasmagorically awful, yet strangely hypnotic musical that strings together nearly 30 Beatles songs and attempts, in vain, to craft a plot out of them. All the elements were in place for it to be a smash. The producer had previously presented several very well-received musical films, The Bee Gees were at the top of their game following the legendary soundtrack from "Saturday Night Fever" and the cast was filled in with several rock, soul and pop acts of the day who would appeal to a variety of viewers. Buckets of money were spent on the production. However, the film was a notorious flop and outraged legions of Beatles fans, who couldn't bear (in most cases) to hear the classic songs from the original albums done by these other people. The storyline, such as it is, concerns Frampton and The Bee Gees reviving the title band headed by their ancestors, one that had been revered in the past and paid tribute to by the people of Heartland (wherever that is.) They are discovered by mega-mogul Pleasence and lured into the sex, drugs & rock 'n roll lifestyle (in a very, very PG-rated fashion) until their hometown (overseen by narrator and city father Burns) falls under the spell of evildoer Howerd, who has stolen the prized instruments of the original band and has turned the city into a den of iniquity. The new foursome must retrieve the instruments and drive out the evil from Heartland. What already sounds preposterous in just a brief synopsis is made even crazier by the ridiculous costuming, set design, direction, staging and all the instantaneously dated trappings of 1978. That's not even counting the many, many covers of Beatles songs, which vary greatly in quality. Truthfully, The Bee Gees and their famous harmonies do not do all that much damage to the music. In fact, they occasionally sound quite good. Aerosmith has also been applauded for their edgy rendition of "Come Together". The funky, altered version of "Got to Get You in to My Life" by Earth, Wind and Fire is a matter of taste. Chief culprits assaulting the ears include Frampton, who just doesn't seem suited to this music at all and Pleasence, Howerd and Martin, whose musical talents have never been their claims to fame anyway. Cooper turns in a weird number that may seem better without the visuals. A female group including Steinberg called Stargard (WHO??) does a marginal-to-poor job on a few songs. Farina, as Frampton's girlfriend (ineptly named Strawberry Fields) was raked over the coals for her singing and performance, but she's really not all that bad. Her voice is reminiscent of Rita Coolidge. Still, her career was toast after this. She may as well have been billed as, "Introducing, and a fond farewell to..." There's quite a bit of bad 70's sci-fi in the lair-on-wheels of Howerd. An annoying computer announces commands while two techno-voiced "robots" wobble around. It's cheap and grating, managing to stand out as especially bad amidst the rest of the tackiness on display. All of the bad points of the film contribute, however, to some great unintentional laughs, from Frampton's near complete lack of charisma to all the non-actors' inappropriate reactions to the goings-on and then the overriding ridiculousness of every aspect of the movie. They did do one thing right. They saved the best for last. In a head-scratching, eye-bugging finale, about a hundred "Friends of Heartland" gather on risers to lip-sync the title number one more time! A Who's Who of mostly "WHO?"'s is trucked out onto the platforms and is forced to partake in an irresistibly cheesy rendition of the song (which is seemingly sung by Up With People or some similarly cheery gang.) The camera pans across the faces of folks who apparently felt that showing up reasonably sober and almost opening their eyes all the way was enough to earn their pay for the day. Watching these nearly-comatose people attempt haphazard, grade-school-level hand choreography while their lips move to the wrong words is enough to put anyone on the ground screaming with laughter. The less animated people are contrasted even more so by the few folks that are REALLY into it like Frankie Valli and Helen Reddy, who practically create their own little routine at the end. This jaw-dropping, mind-boggling ending makes the whole thing worth sitting through, unless one owns a DVD player and can watch that one little sequence over and over and over........ (And STILL have trouble spotting some of the names listed in the credits!) Even if the prospect of the movie is too unbearable to witness in it's entirety, no one should die without having seen this final number.
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