If you thought the movie version of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” was bad, here’s something that will really curl the toes of your Beatle boots.
All This And World War ll mashes up archival WW2 film footage with gung-ho Hollywood war epics and then tosses in a weird mix of rock stars covering Beatle tunes for its soundtrack. It’s a hit or miss affair that manages to achieve a soul-deflating awfulness while occasionally allowing little wormike glimmerings of brilliance to ooze through the sprocket holes. Had it not been produced by 20th Century Fox, it might be mistaken for a long lost underground film directed by dadaist acidheads with a lot of rock and roll musicians for friends.
When it was released to theaters in 1976, ATAWW2 lasted a couple of weeks (critics hated it, audiences stayed away) before being pulled by Fox and buried forever. It has never appeared on VHS or DVD. Rumor had it that Fox had destroyed every existing print and negative of the movie (not true). Even bootleggers found it close to impossible to unearth a copy.
Thanks to YouTube, it is now possible to see this extravagantly misguided experiment as it lands on your monitor screen with a sickening thud. An experiment that proves that if you put enough monkeys in an editing room and give them enough time and film footage they will create something that approximates a movie even if it’s no more than the cinematic equivalent of throwing shit against the wall to see what sticks.
I’m sure we can all argue which juxtapositions of song to images work, which ones are silly in the extreme or just plain irredeemably bad ... or all of the above. Helen Reddy singing “Fool On The Hill” as clips of Hitler unspool on the screen gets my vote for the movie’s maddest moment. Or is it Rod Stewart singing “Get Back” to footage of masses of goosestepping Nazis? Or The Bee Gees singing “Golden Slumbers” as bombs drop on London and buildings explode in a maelstrom of smoke and fire. I don’t know. The film offers so many choices that my bad taste meter never left the red zone. And that alone is enough for me to recommend this anal wart of a movie.
For a completely different take on ATAWW2, check out Phil Hall’s rather wonderful review at Film Threat.
So here it is: the rarely seen All This And World War ll.
“Magical Mystery Tour”—Ambrosia
“Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”—Elton John (includes an uncredited John Lennon on lead guitar and backing vocals)
“Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight”—The Bee Gees
“I Am The Walrus”—Leo Sayer
“She’s Leaving Home”—Bryan Ferry
“Lovely Rita”—Roy Wood
“When I’m Sixty-Four”—Keith Moon
“Get Back”—Rod Stewart
“Let It Be”—Leo Sayer
“With a Little Help from My Friends/Nowhere Man”—Jeff Lynne
“Because”—Lynsey De Paul
“She Came In Through The Bathroom Window”—The Bee Gees
“We Can Work It Out”—The Four Seasons
“The Fool On The Hill”—Helen Reddy
“Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”—Frankie Laine
“Hey Jude”—The Brothers Johnson
“Polythene Pam”—Roy Wood
“Sun King”—The Bee Gees
“Getting Better”—Status Quo
“The Long and Winding Road”—Leo Sayer
“Strawberry Fields Forever”—Peter Gabriel
“A Day in the Life”—Frankie Valli
“Come Together”—Tina Turner
“You Never Give Me Your Money”—Will Malone & Lou Reizner
“The End”—The London Symphony Orchestra