In 17th-century France, Father Urbain Grandier seeks to protect the city of Loudun from the corrupt establishment of Cardinal Richelieu. Hysteria occurs within the city when he is accused of witchcraft by a sexually repressed nun.
In 1926 the tragic and untimely death of a silent screen actor caused female moviegoers to riot in the streets and in some cases to commit suicide - that actor was Rudolph Valentino. ... See full summary »
Nora Walker is told that her British fighter pilot husband is missing in action and presumed killed in World War II. On V.E. Day, Nora gives birth to their son, who she names Tommy. While Tommy is an adolescent, Nora marries Frank, a shifty camp counselor. Shortly thereafter, Tommy suffers an emotionally traumatic experience associated with his father and step-father, which, based on things told to him at that time, results in him becoming deaf, dumb and blind, a situation which several people exploit for their own pleasure. As Nora tries several things to bring Tommy out of his psychosomatic disabilities, Tommy, now a young man, happens upon pinball as a stimulus. Playing by intuition, Tommy becomes a pinball master, which in turn makes him, and by association Nora and Frank, rich and famous. Nora literally shatters Tommy to his awakening, which ultimately leads to both the family's rise and downfall as people initially try to emulate Tommy's path then rebel against it.Written by
The Pinball Wizard sequence was filmed in the Kings Theatre in Southsea. This is not the same theatre in which Ken Russell filmed his earlier work The Boy Friend (1971). This was filmed at The New Theatre Royal in Portsmouth. Both theatres are still very much active. See more »
(Possibly deliberate error by filmmakers) Camera crew visible in auditorium box, during a sweeping shot at the beginning of the Pinball Wizard sequence. This could be lighting, however. See more »
Nora Walker Hobbs:
Do you think it's alright Leaving Tommy by the mirror? You would think he had sight, Been staring half the night. Do you think it's alright?
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New CGI shots have been added to the DVD version of the film. These include:
digital burning embers to the RAF planes being shot down in Tommy's first hallucination in the "Amazing Journey" song scene.
A birds'-eye-view shot of Tommy falling down through the shattered mirror into the water in the transition between the "Smash The Mirror!" song scene and the "I'm Free" song scene.
It helps to have an appreciation for Ken Russell, not Pete Townsend
This is a Ken Russell movie, make no mistake. It is relentlessly twisted, ugly, savage (for a sometimes humorous effect) and trippy. Russell may be the oldest flower child of all time. Surreal plot concerns a deaf-dumb-and-blind boy becoming the new Messiah to a pinball-crazed population, and the film has been accused of being too literal to The Who's rock opera source material. In this age of lavish music videos, it has also been tagged as archaic. Though nobody seems to care anymore how a film was perceived in its time, I would say the picture still succeeds in doing what was originally intended: shake an audience up with freaky visuals and propulsive music (nicely arranged). It also does something else: creates actual characters from the music, a plus due in part to the fine acting of Ann-Margret as Tommy's glamorous mother, Roger Daltrey as Tommy, Oliver Reed as Tommy's stepfather (Reed is hammy but quite game, while the role is designed as both a villain and a hero), and Tina Turner, an extremely scary presence as the Acid Queen. "Tommy" has some bummer scenes, and Russell's love for degradation occasionally made me wince, but it is a real cinematic experience. Whether it involves or alienates the viewer depends on their appreciation for the English director's constant penchant for the bizarre. **1/2 from ****
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