Aspiring filmmakers Chris Stamp and Kit Lambert set out to find a subject for their underground movie, one that will reflect the way it feels to be young and dissatisfied in postwar London. This unlikely partnership of two men from vastly different backgrounds was inspired by the burgeoning youth culture of the early 1960s. Lambert and Stamp searched for months and finally found in a band called the High Numbers a rebellious restlessness that was just what they were looking for. Abandoning their plans to make a film, they instead decided to mentor and manage this group, which evolved into the iconic band known as the Who. The result was rock 'n' roll history.Written by
Sundance Film Festival
Fortune Teller (Live)
Written by Allen Toussaint
Used by permission of EMI Unart Catalog, Inc. (BMI)
Performed by The Who
Courtesy of Polydor Limited / Geffen Records
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises See more »
"Lambert & Stamp" suffers from flaws in its construction but remains an interesting story from the rock and roll archives.
Let's play a little name association game, shall we? I'll write a name and you say out loud the first thing that comes into your mind. Okay? Okay. Here we go. Kit Lambert. Nothing? Okay. Christopher Stamp. Still nothing. How about Terence Stamp? Maybe a little flash of something? Maybe? Let's try Roger Daltry. Pete Townshend. Keith Moon. John Entwistle. We probably got something from some or all of those names, but just in case we didn't, here's one more: The Who. Most people, even those who weren't born when their music was the most popular, are at least aware of the British rock band The Who, one of the most influential of the 20th century. All the names in this paragraph are a part of the story of The Who and the documentary "Lambert & Stamp" (R, 1:57) puts them all together.
Kit Lambert and Christopher Stamp were very different young men when they started talking one day in a London pub in the early 1960s – and had no intentions of pursuing the careers which would end up linking their names together forever. Lambert was a rich kid with an Oxford education and a famous father (a composer and conductor of classical music). Stamp was a working class kid whose father was a tug boat captain who worked on London's Thames River. But these two young men shared a passion – for film. They both wanted to be directors, but they were both working as assistant directors and saw no realistic chance to move up the ladder in the film industry. After spending a day together, they hatched a rather audacious plan which would change their lives, and the lives of many other people as well.
Both Lambert and Stamp were interested in the burgeoning youth mod culture. Their idea was to find a rock band that appealed to that particular segment of society, make that band famous and then make a movie about that band. After months of London nightlife, they finally found the band that they felt was perfect for their project. That band was called "The High Numbers". It would soon be renamed "The Who". Lambert and Stamp became the band's co-managers, with no experience whatsoever. These guys knew nothing about rock music, but they had big ideas, lots of confidence and it soon became clear that they had great instincts. They put The Who on the map and the rest is rock and roll history and would qualify as a series of spoilers if I told you the rest of the story here.
The documentary about Lambert and Stamp's lives and their personal and professional relationship is inextricably linked to the story of The Who, but the movie's focus remains on the two men who worked tirelessly to make the group famous. The film is driven mainly by interviews and illustrated by a large amount of historic photographs and archival footage. Interviewees include Christopher Stamp (but not Kit Lambert, who died in 1981), Chris' older brother, actor Terence Stamp (who, obviously, was around for much of this story and even helped finance his younger brother's ventures at some point), and, of course, the two surviving members of the original band The Who, Roger Daltry and Pete Townshend. But this documentary is a lot more than a series of talking heads. Since Lambert and Stamp were originally out to make a movie about The Who, they were doing a lot of filming, which provides this documentary's director, James D. Cooper, with an abundance of background footage which he uses quite well.
The appeal of "Lambert & Stamp" has much to do with the enduring popularity of The Who's music, but it goes well beyond that. This documentary is a fascinating look behind the scenes at the music industry, at least in one particular time and place, and an unlikely story of two men from very different backgrounds coming up with an idea that was both clever and ambitious, but then succeeding beyond their wildest dreams – in a very different direction. On the level of a truth-is-stranger-than-fiction human drama and a kind of Behind the Behind the Music story, the film works well. Unfortunately, it could have worked even better – and should have – with just a few improvements. The interviews are not really interviews in that those clips mainly just show the subjects talking and when we do hear a question asked, it's not well-stated or well-mic'ed. The film also should have provided some more background – especially at the beginning. It was a little disorienting and frustrating to have no context to get into the story. The film's opening minutes even felt a bit disorganized. Still, this is an interesting and entertaining film that's likely to please music fans and anyone who just enjoys a good story. "B"
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