Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Movie: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978)

If it’s not an official genre, it ought to be: the disco musical. These movies have single-handedly kept yours truly on the straight and narrow, because they serve as vivid reminders of the impact drug abuse can have on careers. What other explanation can there be for someone actually signing off on Xanadu? Or the mind-boggling spectacle that is The Apple?

Why the Sundance Channel of all networks decided to blow the dust off this entry in the form is beyond me. But I’m grateful that they did. It never hurts to be scared straight all over again.

The skeletal, nonsensical plot links two dozen Beatles songs, which makes the movie ahead of its time. It’s a forerunner of jukebox musicals like the all-Abba MAMMA MIA!

Like any movie worth watching, SGT. PEPPER’S raises a host of questions. Such as: Why is Steve Martin doing a Boris Karloff-inflected cover of “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”? Am I actually seeing the Bee Gees, Peter Frampton and George Burns walking arm in arm toward a giant hamburger while singing “For the Benefit of Mr. Kite”? Can cocaine alone be responsible for this, or was PCP involved? If the closing rendition of the title song is so star-studded, why is Connie Stevens there? There had to be some hashish lying around too, right? Carol Channing? If Barry Gibb fought Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler, who would win? And more importantly, what would they wear? (Aside: as a band, Aerosmith has appeared in this, WAYNE’S WORLD 2 and BE COOL. Draw your own conclusions.)

The movie did trigger a powerful personal epiphany. It happened when a pair of robotic masseuses began to sing “She’s Leaving Home.” At that moment, I realized that the talent of the Lennon/McCartney collaboration was truly indestructible. Because somehow, the song still worked.

At least the trumpet used in the movie found a good home.

Miscellaneous: Link

Jeffrey Wells on the seasoning of Kevin Costner as an actor. If only some handsome young buck could go on TV and plead the same case ...