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200 Motels (1971)

"Touring makes you crazy," Frank Zappa says, explaining that the idea for this film came to him while the Mothers of Invention were touring. The story, interspersed with performances by the... See full summary »

Directors:

Tony Palmer, Frank Zappa

Writers:

Frank Zappa (story and screenplay), Tony Palmer (shooting script) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Mark Volman Mark Volman ... Member of Mothers of Invention
Howard Kaylan Howard Kaylan ... Member of Mothers of Invention
Ian Underwood Ian Underwood ... Member of Mothers of Invention
Aynsley Dunbar Aynsley Dunbar ... Member of Mothers of Invention
George Duke ... Member of Mothers of Invention
Theodore Bikel ... Rance Muhammitz / Dave
Keith Moon ... The Hot Nun
Jimmy Carl Black ... Lonesome Cowboy Burt
Janet Neville-Ferguson ... Groupie #1 (as Janet Ferguson)
Martin Lickert Martin Lickert ... Jeff
Lucy Offerall Lucy Offerall ... Groupie #2
Dick Barber Dick Barber ... Bif Debris - The Vacuum Cleaner
Don Preston Don Preston ... Don
Pamela Des Barres ... Interviewer (as Pamela Miller)
Ruth Underwood Ruth Underwood ... Fake Drummer
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Storyline

"Touring makes you crazy," Frank Zappa says, explaining that the idea for this film came to him while the Mothers of Invention were touring. The story, interspersed with performances by the Mothers and the Royal Symphony Orchestra, is a tale of life on the road. The band members' main concerns are the search for groupies and the desire to get paid. Written by George S. Davis

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Fantasy | Music

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

MGM

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

20 November 1971 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

Frank Zappa's 200 Motels See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$679,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The movie was shot on videotape, at Pinewood Studios, London, England in five days at the beginning of February 1971. See more »

Quotes

Lonesome Cowboy Burt: So long as I get some beer and I get paid, you can make me do anything, I'm professional!
See more »

Crazy Credits

The closing credits are super-imposed over a number of production-related documents, including sheet music, scripts, shooting directions, memos and expense reports. See more »

Alternate Versions

A laserdisc issue deletes the "Dental Hygiene Dilemma/quasi-Donald Duck on acid" animation sequence. See more »

Connections

Referenced in John's Arm: Armageddon (2008) See more »

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User Reviews

 
extremely weird and silly with some good music
30 July 2000 | by Dr.XSee all my reviews

Should you watch this film? I believe the following questions may be a decent guide to making this decision. Are you a Zappa fan who likes many of his different musical phases? If so, then this is a must. Are you a casual Zappa fan, partial to newer stuff only? If so, then approach with caution. Do you like very bizarre sequences put together seemingly at random? If so, this is a must. If you hate that kind of thing, then you will probably hate this. When in doubt, have a backup ready so you can switch to that if you lose patience. Oh, and guys out there, I wouldn't recommend showing this to your girlfriend unless she is a big Zappa fan. By all means, I do NOT recommend planning a romantic evening with a girl with standard pop culture tastes that is bookended by playing her samples of your Magma and King Crimson collection and then ending with a screening of 200 Motels, not even as an experiment. Trust me, I have tried this (once) and the results were not good. But I digress...

What do you get from 200 motels? Random weirdness and silliness with a very 1965-1970 feel to it, kind of like a strangely lighthearted feverish dream. You also get some very interesting music of highly variable quality and some great in-jokes that you will find hilarious if you have followed Zappa's career. I will never again be able to drive past a town named "Centerville" (there are lots of these in the midwest USA) without having that Flo and Eddie zombie-like sequence flash through my head. I would certainly not consider this a good film or anywhere close to a good film. But it is certainly oddly interesting.


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