This Is Spinal Tap (1984) Poster


Rob Reiner was originally going to be one of the band members. He ended up directing the film after Harry Shearer said he "didn't look good in spandex."
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The actors are all competent musicians, and the soundtrack is actually them playing.
After the film opened, several people told Rob Reiner that they loved the film, but he should've chosen a more well-known band for a documentary.
Several rock stars have commented on what an uncannily accurate spoof of the rock and heavy metal world this film was. Ozzy Osbourne said that when he first watched the film, he was the only person who wasn't laughing; he thought it was a real documentary. U2 guitarist The Edge said about this movie: "I didn't laugh, I wept. It was so close to the truth." Marillion had five drummers in the space of a year between their first and second album, which guitarist Steve Rothery later admitted was "like Spinal Tap".
Much of the dialogue was ad-libbed.
During the metal detector scene, the background voices making announcements over the PA are the band members, without their English accents.
Harry Shearer, Rob Reiner, Christopher Guest, and Michael McKean were given $10,000 to write a script. They made a 20-minute version of the film to better demonstrate the improvisation they had in mind. Several scenes from the demo are in the final movie.
In his memoir "Father Joe", Tony Hendra admits that he attempted suicide the night before the first day of filming. He credits the joy he experienced in making the film with bringing him back from his depression.
Thirty-seven different people have been in the band over the years. Excluding the two original members, one keyboard player, and the original and current bass players, that means the band has had 32 different drummers who inexplicably died.
Nigel rubs a violin against his guitar during his solo. It's a parody of Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, who used a violin bow to play his guitar during many concert performances.
Director Rob Reiner asked Mark Knopfler, the frontman and guitarist of Dire Straits, to compose the score to The Princess Bride (1987). Knopfler agreed, under the condition that the cap Reiner wore in this film appeared in the movie. Reiner got a replica cap and put it in the boy's present-day bedroom.
Early home video versions of the film, which included the mock music video "Hell Hole" and other extras, had a disclaimer inserted at the very end saying that the band did not actually exist.
The band's name was originally going to be spelled "Spynal Tap".
As the film was improvised by all the performers, Rob Reiner, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer went to the Writers' Guild hoping to give proper credit to everyone. The Board of Directors voted 15 to none that the credits should stay as it was including only the four of them.
A popular bar/music venue on the east side of Milwaukee changed its name to Shank Hall after the fictitious Milwaukee location where the band appears midway through their fateful tour.
In Norway, the film was released direct to video over two years later. The title was changed to "Help! We are in the Pop Business!" ("Hjelp! Vi er i popbransjen!"), a spin on the Norwegian title for "Airplane!" (1980), "Help! We are Flying!" ("Hjelp! Vi flyr!"). The poster showed a guitar with a knot in it, similar to the airplane on the "Airplane!" poster. Throughout the film, an on-screen disclaimer reminds the audience that the band is fake.
When Derek gets Nigel and David to come hear a song from their past on the radio, the radio announcer's voice is Harry Shearer's.
When Nigel describes the sustain on his Les Paul guitar, he says he could "go out and get a bite" and "you'll still be hearing that one." Les Paul described the sustain on one of his own guitars: "You could go out and eat and come back and the note would still be sounding."
In the first dinner interview scene, Nigel Tufnel wears a t-shirt from "Norman's Rare Guitars", which provided many of the guitars used in the production.
Contrary to popular rumor, the "too small Stonehenge" disaster is not a parody of Black Sabbath's over-sized Stonehenge sets from the Born Again tour. The Stonehenge Spinal Tap scene existed as early as 1982, when the film was a 20-minute short. Black Sabbath didn't begin using their Stonehenge sets until 1983. The Stonehenge scene was likely inspired by the setup for Led Zeppelin's final two U.S. concerts, at the Oakland Coliseum, July 23 and 24, 1977. The stage was framed by a large, Stonehenge-like monolith. Additional Stonehenge models appeared on the stage and large banners to either side of the stage featured images of Stonehenge. The concerts are infamous because several members of Led Zeppelin's entourage beat up a local crew member backstage after the first day's performance.
"Isle of Lucy", off England's coast, is an homage to the classic television show, I Love Lucy (1951).
Nigel talks with DiBergi about being influenced by the masters, including Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Johann Sebastian Bach. During their performance of "Heavy Duty", Nigel's solo (which he plays while standing on the drum riser) is a tribute to Luigi Boccherini's "Minuet from String Quintet in E major, G.275".
When the members of Spinal Tap talk about their drummer suffocating on vomit, it's a reference to a number of musicians who have died, or who are rumored to have died, the same way, including Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, AC/DC lead singer Bon Scott and big band leader Tommy Dorsey.
Spinal Tap later appeared on The Simpsons (1989). The voice cast includes Harry Shearer, who does the voices of Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, and many others.
Ranked #1 on Entertainment Weekly's "Top 50 Cult Films of All-Time"
In the course of the film, Spinal Tap has four different drummers: John "Stumpy" Pepys, Eric "Stumpy Joe" Childs, Mick Shrimpton, and Joe "Mama" Besser. The names were inspired by the four different men who played the third Stooge in The Three Stooges films: Curly Howard, Joe DeRita, Shemp Howard, and Joe Besser.
Nigel Tufnel's name is a joke on Eric Clapton, derived from "dull name" and "location in London". Eric became Nigel, and "Clapton Pond" became "Tufnell Park".
Before the first song, an announcer introduces the band by saying "Ladies and gentlemen, direct from Hell, Spinal Tap." That's is a play on Venom's intro tape from the early 1980s: "Now, from the very depths of Hell, Venom!"
All 3 front men play bass during "Big Bottom". When listened to on speakers with good low-frequency response, the title is appropriate on several levels.
Derek Smalls' bass-playing technique (playing with one hand, so the other is free to point in the air) is based on the bass player from Saxon.
According to Rob Reiner on the Criterion DVD commentary, his character's name, Marty DiBergi is an homage to Martin Scorsese, Brian De Palma (Di), Steven Spielberg, and either Federico Fellini or Michelangelo Antonioni.
According to the cast on the Criterion audio commentary, the production never left Los Angeles county during shooting.
Premiere voted this movie as one of "The 50 Greatest Comedies Of All Time" in 2006.
Although they portray Englishmen, none of the three lead actors are actually English. Christopher Guest comes very close, though, as he is the 5th Baron Haden-Guest by right of hereditary British peerage.
Dana Carvey is a mime in Fran Drescher's party along with Billy Crystal.
The cover art for "Smell the Glove" was inspired by the artwork on Whitesnake's 1979 album "Lovehunter".
Marillion's 1987 UK top ten single "Incommunicado" includes the line "currently residing in the where are they now file", which was taken from the film. The song was written from the point of view of a rock star struggling with the lifestyle and the pressures of success.
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Penelope Spheeris was originally asked to direct the film but she declined. She's a huge rock fan in real life and didn't want to make fun of the music.
Spinal Tap are infamous for problems with their Stonehenge props. The most famous incident comes from the film, in which the prop is undersized and nearly trampled by a dwarf. On their live tour in support of Break Like The Wind, a package delivery man brings a package with an even smaller model. In The Return of Spinal Tap, the prop is far too large, and the stage crew makes every effort to cram it through the small doorway, and fails. When they performed at Live Aid (1985), the prop, signed by all the other performers, was the right size, but the "columns" were lowered without the top crossing piece, and subsequently removed from the stage. The top piece eventually lowered with nothing to land on.
In the final scene, set in Tokyo, Nigel wears Sadaharu Oh's Yomiuri Giants baseball jersey. Oh is the world's all-time Home Run king, with 868 Home Runs.
The venue where Spinal Tap performed before the puppet show was a small theater at the Six Flags park Pagic Mountain in Valenica, Ca
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Both David Kaff and R.J. Parnell were primarily musicians known for their membership of English rock bands. Kaff was the pianist/keyboardist for Rare Bird and Parnell was the drummer for Atomic Rooster.
In the airport metal detector scene, Derek Smalls wears a Shrewsbury Town Football Club shirt.
The film is included on Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" list.
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Marty Di Bergi wears two different US Navy caps - one in the film and one in 'Catching up with Marty Di Bergi' in the Special Features on the DVD release. In the film, the cap appears to read USS Ooral Sea OV-4B. This should be USS Coral Sea CV-43. The USS Coral Sea was an aircraft carrier in the US Navy 1946-90, the second ship to bear that name. In the special features, the cap is from the USS Wadsworth FG-9, a guided missile frigate in the US Navy from 1978-2002. The Wadsworth was transferred to Poland in 2002 and renamed the General Tadeusz Kosciuszko.
R.J. Parnell was cast as Shrimpton after he went through all the failed bands he had been with during his audition. Ironically, Parnell would also be the drummer on one of the biggest hits in the country the year the movie was filmed: Toni Basil's "Mickey."
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
The film takes place in 1982.
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Lt. Bob Hookstratten, who welcomes the band to Lindbergh Air Force Base in Seattle to play at its monthly "at-ease weekend", was inspired by prominent sports and entertainment attorney Ed Hookstratten.
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The name "Mick Shrimpton" is a portmanteau of Mick Jagger and Sixties supermodel Jean Shrimpton, whose sister Chrissie dated Jagger in the late Sixties.
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Stockton California (where the band get billed below the puppet show) is in the valley of northern California and has the largest inland sea port on the west coast.
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The fictitious album title "The Sun Never Sweats" is a play on the phrase "The sun never sets on the British Empire."
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Billy Crystal: a mime in the party scene.

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