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).
The band's performance on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (1967) ends with "My Generation" and their trademark wrecking of their equipment - the climax being the explosion of the drum kit. During rehearsal, Keith Moon ("Patent British Exploding Drummer") had persuaded stage hands to load more flash powder into the kit than usual (possibly by bribery) so that when the explosion occurred at the very end of the performance, it was so big that it temporarily blinded the TV cameras and injured the rest of the band. Singer Roger Daltrey was deaf for a long period after the show, Moon was cut on the arm by a cymbal, and guitarist Pete Townshend's hair was singed - he can be seen in the film with smoke coming from his head. Townshend later attributed his partial hearing loss to the incident, though years of extreme on-stage sound levels are probably more to blame. Backstage, other guests of the show were also affected: Bette Davis fainted into Mickey Rooney's arms. 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 »
This country's in a weird, feeble, grotesque state and it's about time it got out of it. And the reason it could get out of it is rock music! And I think that Pete Townshend, The Who, Roger Daltrey, Entwistle, Moon, could rise this country out of its decadent, ambient state more than Wilson and those crappy people could ever hope to achieve!
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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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