FOLLOW US ON: follow us in feedly
GET THE NEWSLETTER
CONTACT US
Mick Jagger, James Fox, Anita Pallenberg, Nic Roeg, Donald Cammell filming ‘Performance’ in 1968

16postper16.jpg
 
The stories about the making of Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg’s Performance are almost as infamous as the movie itself. Some are true, some are not. But even the most excessive tales of sex and drugs and, well you know, rock ‘n’ roll during its making have never eclipsed the visceral power of the film itself.

Performance was written by Cammell. He had Marlon Brando teed-up to star as Chas—an American gangster in London who holes-up with a reclusive pop star. As Cammell worked on the script, he became more obsessed with identity, sexuality and violence. It made the script a far darker thing. When Brando dropped out, James Fox moved in.

Fox was best known for a certain kind of upper class character—either being exploited as in Joseph Losey’s The Servant, or being comically stiff upper lip as can be seen in Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines, or just being the right honorable eye-candy in Throughly Modern Millie. Fox took his role as Chas very, very seriously. He spent (according to some reports) six months “going native” with a few of London’s most notorious East End gangsters.

The casting of Mick Jagger as the androgynous, bisexual, drug-addled rock star recluse Turner was a touch of genius. At that time, no one could have played the part with Jagger’s ethereal, fey menace. As a side note: Jagger and the rest of The Rolling Stones thought they were going to star in a swinging sixties Beatlesque romp with lots of musical numbers and Dick Lester antics.

Roeg was originally only hired as the cameraman. When filming began in a house on Powis Square, London, Cammell became all too aware that he did not know what he was doing behind the camera, and needed someone else to be the eyes while he created the mood, tension and magic in front of the lens.

This magic included consuming large quantities of drugs and (allegedly) some full on sex between Jagger and co-stars Anita Pallenberg and Michèle Breton. Pallenberg was, of course, Keith Richards’ girlfriend. As Jagger and Pallenberg performed in front of the camera, Richards sat outside the location chain smoking, drinking and fuming over what his fellow Stone and woman were getting up to. The footage of Jagger’s sexual hi-jinks with his co-stars nearly had the film prosecuted and shut down. When the rushes were sent out, the lab refused to process the footage as it was considered pornographic. The footage was destroyed. But some of this explicit footage—or so it has long been rumored—survived and was edited together (allegedly by Cammell himself) into a short porn movie which won first prize at some underground porn festival in Amsterdam.

If it wasn’t the sex, then it was the violence that caused the outrage. Roeg and Cammell presented violence as realistically as possible. No John Wayne slugging it out without so much as a chipped tooth. Instead, this violence was brutal, bloody, arousing and horrific. The British Board of Film Classification objected to the editing together of scenes of a sexual nature with those of excessive and disturbing violence. In particular they wanted the head shaving scene cut as “forcible shaving is something that could be imitated by young people.”

The film studios hated Performance. At an in-house screening, the wife of one producer hurled chunks. A recut was demanded. While Roeg was off in Australia directing Walkabout, Cammell weaved some of his “alchemical magic” in the cutting room.

When it was eventually released in 1970, Performance was met with overwhelmingly negative reviews. The critic for LIFE magazine described Performance as “the most completely worthless film I have ever seen since I began reviewing.” This is still one of the very few reviews Roeg has ever kept. Warner Brothers threatened to sue both directors on the grounds they had failed to deliver the Beatlesque Stones’ movie they had “expected.”

Thankfully, Cammell and Roeg had chosen their own course and stuck to it. Today, Performance is considered one of the most original and influential movies made during the 1960s. Fox is unforgettable. Jagger has never been better onscreen. While Roeg went on to greater success, Cammell was never to be allowed to express such completeness of vision again.
 
1foxjaggper1.jpg
 
25foxpergu25.jpg
James Fox as East End gangster Chas.
 
24foxper24.jpg
 
Much more behind the scenes of ‘Performance’ after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Paul Gallagher
|
02.25.2016
02:02 pm
|
Candy: A Cult Film So Bad That It’s Just Bad

image

 

Candy should, I repeat should be off the scale incredible. But it’s not.

Candy was a film that was always talked about, but no one ever saw it. The poster of Candy topless in the airplane cockpit would always be for sale in the back pages of magazines like “Famous Monsters of Filmland” next to ones of King Kong and Frankenstein and it became a familiar image of the era. But the movie you never saw. Not on any late night movie show, never on a Sunday morning “Million Dollar Movie” or anything like that, Candy was seemingly banned from TV for being too racy and for whatever reason was never released on VHS either. Nor was it ever on HBO or Showtime. It was the great lost movie in my eyes.

I became mildly obsessed with this film I could never see and went about collecting movie posters, lobby cards, publicity photos and I own several different versions of the novel by Terry Southern and Mason Hoffenberg with different groovy covers. The mythical Candy became a cult movie Holy Grail for me. I really built it up in my mind. For years I tried to get hold of a copy in the tape trading underground, but the best I was ever able to find was still unwatchable. Then finally it came out on DVD. It was like Christmas had arrived.

But it sucked! Really sucked. It was such a let down!

I mean just LOOK at the cast: Ringo Starr (Emmanuel, the Mexican gardener), Charles Aznavour (the horny hunchback), Marlon Brando (Grindl, the horny (fake) Indian guru), Richard Burton (MacPhisto, the drunk, horny Welsh poet), James Coburn (egotistical surgeon), John Huston (dirty old man doctor) and Walter Matthau (horny military general). Sugar Ray Robinson and Anita Pallenberg make cameo appearances. How could you go wrong with a cast like that?

Let’s not forget the amazing opening space travel sequence by Douglas Trumbull who went on to make 2001 with Stanley Kubrick. And the soundtrack by The Byrds, Steppenwolf and soundtrack great Dave Grusin (it’s INCREDIBLE and easy to find on audio blogs). The script was adapted by Buck Henry. HOW could this fail?

It even featured the decade defining pulchritude of Miss Teen Sweden, Ewa Aulin, in the title role of “Candy Christian,” the ultimate All-American girl.

But despite all this Candy is a terrible film and even worse, it’s boring.

One of the things that must have mucked up things badly for the production is—and I am just theorizing here—the contracts for the lead actors. These were THE leading actors of the day, all of them top drawer A-list 60s talent. After watching Candy the thought occurred to me that Marlon Brando’s agent probably asked how much screen time Richard Burton was getting and demanded the same for his client. Then James Coburn’s manager asked the same question and demanded equal time for his client and so on and so until each actor was guaranteed “Most Favored Nations” equal screen time. How else to explain the film’s structure? It’s maddening to watch and Candy feels like it’s never going to end.

STILL, I’m not saying it’s so bad you shouldn’t watch it. Actually I think that if this sounds even remotely intriguing to you then it’s definitely worth seeing. It’s not good, no, we’ve already established that fact, but it is a super insane, trippy, campy relic of the 1960s with some of the most iconic actors of the decade behaving like total hambones, each trying to outdo the other in chewing up the scenery.


Candy

Posted by Richard Metzger
|
10.19.2011
04:15 pm
|
Happy birthday Anita Pallenberg
01.25.2011
11:40 am
Topics:
Tags:

image
 
Happy birthday wishes go out today to Anita Pallenberg, the iconic 60s beauty, actress and notorious heroin addict, who was the muse for (at least) two Rolling Stones. Aside from her scandal-filled years spent with Keith Richards, Pallenberg is best known for her roles in Performance, with Mick Jagger, and as the one-eyed Great Tyrant in Barbarella, the Black Queen of Sogo, city of night.

Jo Bergman, who was the personal assistant to the Stone from 1967 to 1973 said of Pallenberg: “Anita is a Rolling Stone. She, Mick, Keith and Brian were the Rolling Stones. Her influence has been profound. She keeps things crazy.” Anita Pallenberg turns 67, today.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger
|
01.25.2011
11:40 am
|
Performance in the making: Donald Cammell & Mick Jagger

image
 
Much like a TARDIS, a Borges short story, or Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49, Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg‘s 1970 film, Performance, is far bigger on the inside than its outside might indicate.  Starring Mick Jagger, James Fox and Anita Pallenberg, and with its primary action confined to that of a London flat, Performance manages to explore, in its uniquely heady and hypnotic way, such notions as gender, identity and madness as a function of creativity.

In fact, it feels at times like there’s so much going on within Performance‘s 105 minutes, in terms of philosophical scope and ambition, movies like The Matrix or 2001: A Space Odyssey seem almost puny in comparison.

And much like the London flat itself, Performance is a movie to lose yourself in.  Since my preteen exposure to it via the Z Channel, I must have watched it a good dozen times.  Nevertheless, the film continues to surprise me.  Disorient, too.

Part of this was due, no doubt, to the alchemical editing of co-writer/director Donald Cammell, who sadly, took his own life in ‘96.  Cammell’s ultimately tragic life and career is certainly deserving of its own post at some point, but, in the meantime, what follows is Part I of an absolutely worthwhile 3-part documentary on the making of Performance and the controversy that’s dogged the film ever since its release 30 years ago.  Links to the other parts follow below.

 
Performance in the making, Part II, III

Posted by Bradley Novicoff
|
06.09.2010
05:06 pm
|
Marianne Faithfull and Anita Pallenberg Bicker Over the Soul of Humanity

Marianne Faithfull and Anita Pallenberg, as God and the Devil, debate the legacy of the Sixties on Absolutely Fabulous, in a clip that is perhaps the greatest creation of all human endeavor ever.

Posted by Jason Louv
|
09.30.2009
09:16 pm
|