SHOUT is a two part 200 minute epic musical biography on the life and career of iconic Australian rock and roll star Johnny O'Keefe. From his 1950s teen years as a hyperactive stage performer in pubs and kids clubs through the massive stadium stage shows of 1959/60 organized by shyster entrepreneur Lee Gordon (now there is a film bio begging to be made) to O'Keefe's second marriage and second wind as a 70s performer, SHOUT bristles with about 22 major song performances most played out in full. What separates this whopper musical from more pedestrian fare is the utterly sensational performance by the magnetic Terry Serio in the lead role. In the 70s Serio was the vocalist in a terrific rock group called The Elks and had some claim to fame given the popularity of the band and obvious suitability as a possible actor. Ultimnately he became known as a reliable workhorse in many Australian TV and movie productions. However, SHOUT is truly something else. Produced lavishly and on a simply gigantic musical scale with startling and entertaining performances by a particularly strong cast this allows the warts and all portrayal of O'Keefe's legendary explosive stage performances and drug fueled social life to be ruthlessly exposed between some very moving and dynamic song sequences. Of note is the excellent production values especially the art direction of 1950s Australia and the gorgeous well thought appropriate costumes. SHOUT is a handsome 3 hour musical produced with care and focus, much under rated and well worth re discovering and applauding. Serio's performance and screen charisma is undeniable and he delivers consistently even in what seem to be some wobbly directed moments. Some scenes have not made the time gap of the 80s to now but 90% of what is over all 3 hours + of engrossing opulence has passed the passage of time impressively. The DVD is excellent value but the movie is a major achievement about a troubled stick of singing rockabilly dynamite with shady friends and hard pressed family. Lee Gordon in real life was a US impresario rat- pack wannabee who came to Australia in 1953 and really kick started the importing of big name stars on massive tours in cities desperate for huge stage shows. Gordon was a hyperactive amphetamine addict who clashed and serenaded everyone he knew in and out of their money. What he did for Australian showbiz is a film in itself. The train crash of talent between himself and O'Keefe is the core of this terrific biography. One standout (in a hundred) is the rendition of a song called I THANK YOU sung in a concert to O'Keefe's own parents. A moment of such transporting beauty that it actually lifts the whole film yet another notch. Candy Raymond as Maureen, his second wife, and Melissa Jaffe as his mother create outstanding believable performances. It has a strong script, unflinching expose and enough tawdry backstage drama to keep it all percolating along for over 3 hours. There are not many actors who can achieve success in a 3 hour musical biography, a field notoriously difficult to get right, but Serio in SHOUT delivers. Unfairly maligned for some obvious 80s production issues and occasional lame TV direction, you can overlook this if you focus on the excellent production values, John McTiernan as the very scary Lee Gordon and an utterly magnetic screen performance by Terry Serio. It's a big musical epic and well worth your time. I first saw it on TV in 1986 and though it was good then, but seeing it again in 2011 on DVD has allowed me to be completely astonished at just how good.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?