Originally filmed in December 1968, "The Rock and Roll Circus" was originally intended to be released as a television special. The special was filmed over two nights and featured not only ... See full summary »
Through concert performances and interviews, this film offers us an "inside look" at this famous rock group, "The Who". It captures their zany craziness and outrageous antics from the initial formation of the group to its major hit "Who Are You", and features the last performance of drummer keith Moon just prior to his death. Written by
Concorde - New Horizons (with permission).
Although Steve Martin is billed as himself in the closing credits, he actually calls himself Ralph Baines in the scene he appears in. See more »
Rick Danko of The Band is listed in the end credits as appearing in the film, even though his segment was deleted from the final print. See more »
When I'm on the stage - let me try to explain - when I'm on the stage, I'm not in control of myself at all. I even don't know who I am. I'm not this rational person that can sit here and talk to you. If you walked on the stage in the middle of a concert for an interview, I'd probably come close to killing you - I HAVE come close to killing people that walked on the stage. Abbie Hofmann walked on the stage at Woodstock and I nearly killed him with me guitar. A cameraman walked... a, a, a ...
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Various clips of stage goodbyes from live appearances of The Who through the years are shown during the closing credits. See more »
This 2-disc DVD is an absolute essential for any Who fan and perhaps the only documentary film ever made that captures the essence of rock'n'roll's importance to youth culture. Its brilliance largely belongs to the irresistibly appealing personalities and unparalleled live performances of the Who, but can also be partially attributed to director Jeff Stein, who was a nineteen year-old fledgling photographer and Who freak in 1978 when he persuaded the group to front him the cash to make a movie. What results is a warts 'n' all portrait of the most honest, inspired, and inspiring of rock's superheroes.
The film begins with the now-infamous performance of 'My Generation' on the Smothers Brothers show and never slows down. Included are hilarious outtakes of staged antics originally intended for a Monkees-style TV show that never aired, a wonderfully irreverent segment featuring John Entwistle using gold records for target practice on the lawn of his estate, priceless video and still photography of Keith Moon at his hotel room-smashing best, and vintage interview material with Townshend, charting his development from insolent young mod (at one point, when asked to comment on the relative quality of the Beatles' music by a smug British TV host, he refers to the Fab Four as "flippin' lousy") to a soul-searching artist trying to find meaningful space for himself in a form he fears he has outgrown. There are liberal doses from 'Tommy' and 'Who's Next,' but equal attention is paid to the group's early mod years and their more radio-friendly late-seventies era releases. Included in its entirety is the group's performance of 'A Quick One' from "The Rolling Stones' Rock 'n' Roll Circus," a TV show produced by the Stones which was never aired due to the Stones' opinion that they had been badly upstaged by the Who (only a fragment of the same clip was featured in the theatrical release of the film due to copyright restrictions). Surprisingly absent is any material from 'Quadrophenia,' an unexplained omission but one that doesn't really glare given that the footage is not arranged chronologically.
None of the Who's studio releases ever equaled their brilliance onstage, and Stein loads the film with impossibly hot concert footage, including mind-blowing performances (some borrowed from the Woodstock film) of live staples 'Young Man Blues,' 'Pinball Wizard,' 'See Me Feel Me/Listening to You,' and 'Sparks.'
Indirectly, 'The Kids are Alright' is also a cautionary tale: we see Moon transformed in a mere ten years from a lean young prankster into a bloated caricature of himself (Moon died shortly before the film was released; his last performance with the group was the concert at Shepperton Studios staged for the film at Jeff Stein's request). We see Townshend joking about his hearing loss and struggling with his fear of growing old and irrelevant. Entwistle dryly remarks, 'I'm too old to enjoy my money;' Roger Daltrey dismisses the cultural importance of rock music, stating flatly that 'it doesn't stand up.' Townshend confesses his frustration at the pressure he feels to satisfy the expectations of the group's army of frenzied fans. By the end, the group seems weary of itself and its overblown reputation.
Nevertheless, the film ends on a note of triumph, with a manic encore at Shepperton of "Won't Get Fooled Again," climaxing with a slo-mo shot of Townshend leaping and then sliding across the stage on his knees, followed by an end-credit coda of "Rock is Dead (Long Live Rock)". The DVD set includes director commentary, a recent interview with Daltrey, Who trivia quizzes, and isolated tracks of John Entwistle's extraordinary bass work on several classic tunes.
Definitive evidence of the Who's stature as one of the most influential and inimitable of the titans of rock. Anyone who loves the power and energy of a live rock performance will come away from this film slack-jawed and looking around for a guitar to smash.
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