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Tommy (1975)

PG | | Drama, Musical | 26 March 1975 (UK)
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A psychosomatically deaf, dumb and blind boy becomes a master pinball player and, subsequently, the figurehead of a cult.

Director:

Ken Russell

Writers:

The Who (by) (as 'The Who'), Ken Russell (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
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Popularity
4,627 ( 573)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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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
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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 »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

26 March 1975 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Tommy: The Movie See more »

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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 »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Ann-Margret won the Best Actress Golden Globe for her performance, was nominated for the Oscar, and remains to this day the only actress ever Oscar-nominated in the lead category for a performance which is (save for one single word) entirely sung. See more »

Goofs

When Frank Hobbs signs the cheque for Quackson, the signature is at an angle of at least thirty degrees to the horizontal. When he hands it over, the signature is level. See more »

Quotes

Nora Walker Hobbs: But what's it all worth? What's it all worth when my son is blind? He can't hear the music nor enjoy what I'm buying. His life is worthless, affecting mine. I'd pay any price to drive his plight from my mind!
See more »

Alternate Versions

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.
See more »


Soundtracks

Do You Think It's Alright? (I)
(uncredited)
Written by Pete Townshend
Performed by Graham Deakin, Phil Chen, Nicky Hopkins, Alan Ross,
Ann-Margret, Oliver Reed
See more »

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User Reviews

A fun if overblown rock opera with a cult following, shambolic plot with obvious attacks on religion and an eclectic cast
27 June 2004 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

When her husband is lost in WWII, Nora Walker is left with an unborn baby to raise by herself. Years later she has a fantastic son, Tommy, and is being courted by 'Uncle' Franks Hobbs. However when Tommy sees Frank and his mother killing his real father, he becomes psychosomatically deaf, dumb and blind. This way he stays all the way through to adulthood regardless of what his mother tries to get him cured. Running away from home one night, Tommy finds himself in a junkyard where he finds an old pinball machine and begins to play it. When he turns out to be a natural born wizard on the pinball table it not only leads him to a cure but also causes a religious following to spring up around him.

Being born in the 1970's and not really being a retro type of person, I have never gotten into The Who but I am always willing to give a film a try no matter what period it is from or what genre it is. I approached Tommy with hesitancy aware that I may not like the music and that it had a reputation for being all over the place. Well, suffice to say that the latter is certainly true and if you're coming here looking for structure or decent plotting then you'll be not only disappointed but also a touch bewildered! The basic plot is an obvious swipe at religion and, as such, I'm rather surprised this film doesn't have a legacy of Catholic protests (it may do – but usually things like that stick with a film forever, like Life of Brian) following it given the amount of religious imagery in it. It doesn't totally work as it isn't clever enough to be really interesting or sharp enough to serve as a clever attack at religion. However it still manages to be great overblown fun from pretty much start to finish.

Credit where credit is due, Ken Russell doesn't run the risk of being remembered as someone who suffered in moderation – no, if he can have Ann Margaret rolling round on the floor then why not cover her in tinned food product? To that end his direction is relentlessly over the top and it actually helps the material because the plot and music are both over the top and revelling in 1970's excesses. It is never funny in a comedy sense but it is fun in the same way as going to a big show like Rock Horror can be, it's hard not to get caught up in the music, performances and sights of the film as everyone is really overdoing it and it's fun! Not being a fan of The Who, I was still won over by the music here – like a west end show mixed with rock and served on top of sliced ham, it is catchy, overblown and enjoyable to listen to. The cast also help and all manage to deliver their lines well even if some of them are not singers as their day jobs.

In fact the cast is a big part of this film working quite as well as it did – their performances mostly match the overblown feel of the film. Daltry isn't a great actor but he does well here apart from the odd slip up. Ann Margaret chews the scenery with every chance and her performance is memorable (and I think was Oscar nominated – but I may be wrong). Reed hams it up like a good'un and appears to be enjoying himself immensely – although given the people involved in this film and the legendary habits he had I would not be surprised if it was something other than the film itself that gave him that lecherous leer! The real gold in the film though is a collection of cameos that may not all work but all add to the film: Tina Turner IS The Acid Queen, Elton John gets the best song of the film, Clapton doesn't make as much of an impression as I would have liked and the presence of Jack Nicholson is as good as it is surprising!

Overall this is a silly, shambolic film that makes very little sense and is not clever enough to make the points about religion that it tries to. However it is overblown, musical and fun to watch with a great collection of people from the period in small roles all through the film. It may frustrate many, which is why it is a 'cult' film as opposed to a classic hit but, for all it's flaws, I found it enjoyable and fun in a big silly OTT way!


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