32 user 51 critic

Monterey Pop (1968)

Not Rated | | Documentary, History, Music | 23 April 1969 (France)
2:27 | Trailer
A film about the greatest pre-Woodstock rock music festival.


D.A. Pennebaker
1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Scott McKenzie Scott McKenzie ... Performer
Denny Doherty ... Performers (as Mamas and the Papas)
Cass Elliot ... Performers (as Mamas and the Papas)
The Mamas and the Papas ... Themselves (as Mamas and Papas)
John Phillips ... Performers (as Mamas and the Papas)
Michelle Phillips ... Performers (as Mamas and the Papas)
Canned Heat ... Themselves
Frank Cook Frank Cook ... Performers (as Canned Heat)
Bob Hite Bob Hite ... Performers (as Canned Heat)
Henry Vestine Henry Vestine ... Performers (as Canned Heat)
Alan Wilson Alan Wilson ... Performers (as Canned Heat)
Art Garfunkel ... Performers (as Simon and Garfunkel)
Paul Simon ... Performers (as Simon and Garfunkel)
Hugh Masekela ... Performer
Marty Balin ... Performers (as Jefferson Airplane)


Legendary California music festival (pre-Woodstock) that launched the state-side careers of several performers, most notably Jimi Hendrix. Check out Mama Cass being absolutely blown away while watching Joplin sing. Here there be REAL acid rock. Written by Raymond Clay <banquosa@concentric.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Yeah! See more »


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


During the Mama's and Papa's singing "Got A Feeling", the camera shows the audience, and it looks like Steve Jobs is there with a luscious blonde girl. See more »


In the opening credits, a hand-drawn title says "IN ORDER OF PEFORMANCE", misspelling the word "PERFORMANCE". See more »


Scott McKenzie: [singing] If you're going to San Francisco, Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair, If you're going to San Francisco, You're going to be meet some gentle people there...
See more »

Alternate Versions

The 1997 video version includes as an appendix The Who's performance of "A Quick One While He's Away." See more »


Edited into George Harrison: Living in the Material World (2011) See more »


Written by Sam Cooke
Performed by Otis Redding
See more »

User Reviews

Watch out for your ears!!
1 October 2002 | by billymac72See all my reviews

I've heard it commented that Monterey Pop is less of a `movie' than Woodstock because it doesn't really get to know the Audience as a character (through interviews, pointed observation, thru-stories, etc.). This is nothing more than old-fashioned critic snobbery. The distance is precisely the mystique of the film. Do we need to talk to the audience or to Janis Joplin, for example, after her performance? As an impressed Cass Elliot looks on, we see Joplin playfully skitter off the stage like a schoolgirl to embrace a friend after her victorious `Ball & Chain,' and we totally feel her sense of accomplishment and state of exhaustion after delivering such a powerhouse. Sometimes a picture speaks a thousand words.

Monterey Pop, in comparison to Woodstock, does indeed have a distant feel and, overall, lacks that film's spit & polish. But this is like comparing two different directing styles – say Kubrick vs. Ford. Based on its own merits, this film is a fantastic, bare-bones look back at the state of (what was then!) underground music…before drugs & death took their massive toll, before it all became `classic rock' commercialism, and before everyone (including myself) had a chance to pontificate on its merits ad nauseum. The distance afforded their subjects by the filmmakers adds to this experimental `street' allure and is actually very appropriate. Have you ever felt cheated by a band simply because they went commercial? How it just doesn't feel the same because what once seemed like a hip secret kept by a choice few had now gained Mass Audience Appeal? The jig was up. Alas, for those old days… Monterey captures that spirit of an unbridled, non-compromised and spontaneous movement that has just the right touch of danger attached.

Even though Monterey Pop has a garage rock feel, it's not really about `garage rock' per se, which has its roots back to 50s. It's more about a time when rock really went through a kind of psychedelic overhaul that continues to influence today. Besides the psychedelia, however, rock went through a diverse artistic transition that begun to incorporate music from other countries, styles and mediums (You want diversity? Try Otis Redding and Ravi Shankar on the same bill!). Although the Beatles had already begun to incorporate this stuff, most had not by '67 and were just perfecting their own innovative sounds (Janis Joplin, for instance, did not bring in a full horn section until a couple of years later, and Big Brother remained very guitar-driven). The jazz of Hugh Mesekela, for instance, is a standout here. I don't see Woodstock as having such a wide scope.

On the other hand, comparisons made to Woodstock are valuable enhancements to this film's enjoyment, not necessarily the base of negative critique. One reviewer, for instance, pointed out the medium hairstyle length of most of the men here (most were so new to The Scene that they hadn't had enough time to grow it out yet. Crew cuts and horn-rimmed glasses also abound). Many of the bands also look surprisingly young & innocent when compared with their Woodstock performances only 2 years later (the results of hard living?). Hendrix at Woodstock, in particular, comes off as nearly sedate when compared to his historic appearance here. Such details are what make Monterey Pop a gorgeous document of this period.

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Release Date:

23 April 1969 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Monterey Pop See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,524, 26 August 2001

Gross USA:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo (original release)| Dolby Stereo (re-release)| Mono (original release)


Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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