6.6/10
17,658
194 user 56 critic

Tommy (1975)

PG | | Drama, Musical | 26 March 1975 (UK)
Trailer
2:09 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video

ON DISC
A psychosomatically deaf, dumb and blind boy becomes a master pinball player and, subsequently, the object of a religious cult.

Director:

Ken Russell

Writers:

The Who (by) (as 'The Who'), Ken Russell (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Biographical film of the life of French sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska.

Director: Ken Russell
Stars: Dorothy Tutin, Scott Antony, Helen Mirren
Lisztomania (1975)
Biography | Comedy | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Composer and pianist Franz Liszt attempts to overcome his hedonistic lifestyle while repeatedly being drawn back into it by the many women in his life and fellow composer Richard Wagner.

Director: Ken Russell
Stars: Roger Daltrey, Sara Kestelman, Paul Nicholas
Mahler (1974)
Biography | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Composer Gustav Mahler's life, told in a series of flashbacks as he and his wife discuss their failing marriage during a train journey.

Director: Ken Russell
Stars: Robert Powell, Georgina Hale, Lee Montague
Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

When the leading lady of a low-budget musical revue sprains her ankle, the assistant stage manager is forced to understudy and perform in her place, becoming a star and finding love in the process.

Director: Ken Russell
Stars: Twiggy, Christopher Gable, Max Adrian
Valentino (1977)
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

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 »

Director: Ken Russell
Stars: Rudolf Nureyev, Leslie Caron, Michelle Phillips
The Devils (1971)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

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.

Director: Ken Russell
Stars: Vanessa Redgrave, Oliver Reed, Dudley Sutton
Women in Love (1969)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Two best friends fall in love with a pair of women, but the relationships soon go in very different directions.

Director: Ken Russell
Stars: Alan Bates, Oliver Reed, Glenda Jackson
Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

Ten people are invited to a hotel in the Iranian desert, only to find that an unseen person is killing them one by one. Could one of them be the killer?

Director: Peter Collinson
Stars: Charles Aznavour, Maria Rohm, Adolfo Celi
Quadrophenia (1979)
Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Jimmy loathes his job and parents. He seeks solace with his mod clique, scooter riding and drugs, only to be disappointed.

Director: Franc Roddam
Stars: Phil Daniels, Leslie Ash, Phil Davis
Action | Adventure | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

In France in 1649, the services of the Four Musketeers are needed again, and they run into some old foes from twenty years before.

Director: Richard Lester
Stars: Michael York, Oliver Reed, Frank Finlay
Certificate: M Action | Adventure | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A woman causes a group of assassins to face their greatest challenge.

Director: Basil Dearden
Stars: Oliver Reed, Diana Rigg, Telly Savalas
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

The professional and romantic misadventures of an advertising executive in 1960s swinging London.

Director: Michael Winner
Stars: Oliver Reed, Orson Welles, Carol White
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Oliver Reed ... Frank
Ann-Margret ... Nora
Roger Daltrey ... Tommy
Elton John ... The Pinball Wizard
Eric Clapton ... The Preacher
John Entwistle ... Himself
Keith Moon ... Uncle Ernie
Paul Nicholas ... Cousin Kevin
Jack Nicholson ... The Specialist
Robert Powell ... Captain Walker
Pete Townshend ... Himself
Tina Turner ... The Acid Queen
Arthur Brown Arthur Brown ... The Priest
Victoria Russell Victoria Russell ... Sally Simpson
Ben Aris Ben Aris ... Reverend Simpson
Edit

Storyline

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 Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Your senses will never be the same

Genres:

Drama | Musical

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

26 March 1975 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Tommy: The Movie See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$5,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$34,251,525
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Quintaphonic (5 channel Stereo) (as Quintophonic Sound®)| Dolby (as Dolby System Noise Reduction - High Fidelity Optical Sound Track)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The pinball machine played by Tommy (Roger Daltrey) is Gottlieb's "Kings & Queens". See more »

Goofs

When Cousin Kevin is ironing Tommy after having given him the fire hose treatment, the iron is not plugged in. The power cord is actually in his hand along with the iron. See more »

Quotes

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?
See more »

Alternate Versions

In the UK PAL version DVD, between the "Uncle Ernie scene" and the scene that Frank Hobbs walks up the blue lit staircase, there is a scene showing Nora and Frank coming through the front door of their flat and ponder for a moment where the strange noises are coming from. Proceeding this, Frank walks to the staircase and heads upstairs. See more »


Soundtracks

Prologue-1945
(uncredited)
Written and Performed by Pete Townshend
Opening brass Performed by John Entwistle
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
An Introduction to Opera for Pop Fans
1 February 2009 | by mstomasoSee all my reviews

Anybody generally familiar with opera will immediately recognize that the Who's Tommy suffers from neither a weak nor outrageous nor terribly surreal nor even bizarre storyline in comparison to what passes for plot in many classic operas.

And anybody generally familiar with 1970s cinema will note that Ken Russell's envisioning of this film was actually one of a very small handful of intelligent and serious musicals produced during that decade, not a psychedelic experiment or a contribution to the avant-garde.

Many of the less complementary comments offered here on IMDb concerning this movie appear to be driven by commenters' personal opinions or prejudices about The Who or about Ken Russel, and seem to have very little to do with this film.

In 1969, The Who released their wildly innovative breakthrough album "Tommy". Written almost entirely by 23-year old Pete Townshend, Tommy was, like many albums of its time, an early example of album-oriented rock. But unlike similarly assembled LPs by the likes of Pink Floyd, Jefferson Airplane, The Beatles, etc., Tommy told a story through music and lyrics.

Tommy knew his father - Captain Walker - mainly through the photograph which has stood on the nightstand next to his bed all of his young life. His mother, Nora (Ann Margaret), a war widow, has shacked up with "Uncle Frank", a well-off and well-intentioned but rather low-brow gentleman (Oliver Reed). One night, Captain Walker comes home to find his beloved wife in bed with Uncle Frank, and Uncle Frank, in a panic, kills him. Tommy witnesses this and Nora and Frank expand the trauma by shouting silence and near-catatonic autism into the young boy with the classic lines "You didn't hear it, you didn't see it, you won't say nothing to no one, never tell a soul... what you know is the truth."

So Tommy grows up in a state of trauma-induced deafness, muteness and blindness. Guilt and sincere love drive his mother and her new husband Frank to seek every possible cure, and Townshend (and Russel) waste no opportunity to skewer religion, medical science, traditional family dynamics, and testosterone-influenced views of sexual rites of passage.

Eventually, Tommy and his mother will find their own cures - in quite unexpected places. And Tommy will offer his apparently miraculous awareness to the rest of the world as a universal form of salvation.

Although the medium of the album and the film is rock music, Tommy strings together many of the most powerful elements of classical opera. Religion plays an important, though atypical, role in Townshend's story. Allegory is a key to understanding the entire process. And both the lyrics and the film incorporate widespread and often incisive social criticism - touching on broad intellectual themes such as the escape from freedom, the subjectivity of truth, and the inherent futility and silliness of most efforts to improve the lot of humanity.

If you let yourself 'go with it' Tommy will likely take you places you've never been. I won't promise that you will like it, but rather, that if you keep your mind open and let it pour in, like most operas, Tommy will move you.

WITH REGARD TO THE FILM:

Facing a nearly impossible task, Ken Russel enlisted Townshend, Daltrey, and a host of very talented and popular musicians and actors to make Tommy. Most of the time, this works - Ann Margaret, Roger Daltrey, and cameos by Jack Nicholson, Elton John, Tina Turner and Keith Moon are all outstanding. Unfortunately, Oliver Reed, as well-cast as he was, has no vocal talent to speak of, and Eric Clapton has the on-screen charisma of a desk lamp.

Despite the common 21st century wisdom concerning the amount of experimentalism in 1970s films, films like Tommy, Rollerball, Deathrace 2000, French Connection, Solyaris, 2001, etc, were actually very few and far between during that decade. In fact, most of the films released in the 1970s were so uninventive and uninteresting that they can only be found on public domain download sites and budget mega-pack DVD sets.

Although Russell was a shoe-in for directing this film - given his longstanding interest in visualization of classical music (http://pro.imdb.com/name/nm0001692/) and more challenging subjects, Tommy was - even for Russell - a wildly innovative film:

  • NO DIALOGUE -


a singing cast tells the story, set against The Who's original music, and Russell's visual story-telling is as powerful and striking here as it was in Gothic and many of his better-known films. Oliver Reed's bellowing vocalizations are a bit overbearing, and too much synthesizer is added to embellish a score which was 6-years old by the time the film was released. But the problems with the sound track are at least partly made-up for by fabulously campy musical cameos by Tina Turner and Elton John, and - FINALLY - by Daltrey's excellent performance once Tommy himself gains a voice. Ann Margaret's singing is also quite good, but, unfortunately, several of her songs are infected by Reed's brutish howling.

All considered Tommy is a must-see for open-minded film enthusiasts, and particularly those interested in the evolution of the modern musical.

Recommended.


25 of 33 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 194 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

IMDb Freedive: Watch Movies and TV Series for Free

Watch Hollywood hits and TV favorites for free with IMDb Freedive. Start streaming on IMDb and Fire TV devices today!

Start watching

Stream Trending Movies With Prime Video

Enjoy a night in with these popular movies available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed