Tag Archives: Ken Russell

The Boy Friend (1971) Ken Russell, Twiggy, Christopher Gable, Max Adrian, Comedy, Musical, Romance

the-boy-friend-1971
The assistant stage manager of a small-time theatrical company (Polly Browne) is forced to understudy for the leading lady (Rita) at a matinée performance at which an illustrious Hollywood director (Cecil B. DeThrill) is in the audience scouting for actors to be in his latest “all-talking, all-dancing, all-singing” extravaganza. Polly also happens to fall in love with the leading man (Tony) and imagines several fabulous fantasy sequences in which the director is free to exercise his capacity for over-the-top visuals in this charming 1920’s era flick.
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Tommy (1975) Ken Russell, Roger Daltrey, Ann-Margret, Oliver Reed, Drama, Musical

Tommy (1975)
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.
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Lisztomania (1975) Ken Russell, Roger Daltrey, Sara Kestelman, Paul Nicholas, Biography, Comedy, Music

Lisztomania (1975)
This audacious, vulgar, freewheeling fantasia on the life of pianist Franz Liszt ranks among director Ken Russell’s most outrageous efforts. Roger Daltrey, lead singer for The Who, is awkward yet likeable as the flamboyant piano performer with a bevy of fetching mistresses and groupies, while Paul Nicholas is completely outlandish as the scheming opera composer Richard Wagner. There’s no nod to reality here: Liszt and Wagner were in fact friends, and Liszt, who became Wagner’s father-in-law, actually assisted in the production of Wagner’s opulent productions. Russell, on the other hand, presents Wagner as Liszt’s jealous rival ready to wreak havoc on the world by unleashing a cryogenic Viking (Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman) and a horde of machine-gun wielding robot Nazis. In a finale out of Flash Gordon serials, Liszt saves the day after surviving a guillotine designed for phallic dismemberment. The film is fast and loud and wildly undisciplined, much like one of Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsodies. Look fast and you’ll see Ringo Starr as the pope.
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The Music Lovers (1970) Ken Russell, Richard Chamberlain, Glenda Jackson, Max Adrian, Drama, Biography, Music

The Music Lovers (1970)
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is given the Ken Russell treatment in The Music Lovers, which means that there is plenty of music, plenty of passion, plenty of debauchery, and plenty of excess. Tame by Russell’s later standards (Lisztomania), The Music Lovers nevertheless thrives on creative and sexual anguish. Richard Chamberlain plays Tchaikovsky with a bug-eyed intensity as a composer consumed by his art – so consumed that his romantic attachments become bisexual and irrational. He falls in love with Nina (Glenda Jackson), the hysterical trollop he marries with dire consequences. As he explodes emotionally, his public performance of Piano Concerto in B flat minor becomes a cue for flashbacks to a series of discomforting childhood events that suggest incestuous relations with his sister. Back in real time, Tchaikovsky has to deal with Nina’s outbursts while juggling his homosexual urges and his almost hidden desire for Count Anton Chiluvsky (Christopher Gable). The film also details the curious relationship between Tchaikovsky and his rich patroness, the middle-aged widow Madame Nadedja von Meck (Isabella Telezynska), who loves Tchaikovsky deeply, but refuses to meet him – their only communication being through letters, even though he lives on her estate. Andre Previn and the London Symphony Orchestra perform Tchaikovsky’s music.
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Gothic (1986) Ken Russell, Gabriel Byrne, Julian Sands, Natasha Richardson, Horror

Gothic (Ken Russell, 1986)
Story of the night that Mary Shelley gave birth to the horror classic “Frankenstein.” Disturbed drug induced games are played and ghost stories are told one rainy night at the mad Lord Byron’s country estate. Personal horrors are revealed and the madness of the evening runs from sexual fantasy to fiercest nightmare. Mary finds herself drawn into the sick world of her lover Shelley and cousin Claire as Byron leads them all down the dark paths of their souls.
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Whore (1991) Ken Russell, Theresa Russell, Benjamin Mouton, Antonio Fargas, Drama

Whore (Ken Russell, 1991)
The prostitute Liz works on the streets of Los Angeles. She recalls her life in flashback, when she marries an alcoholic man. She leaves him with their son. Then she works as waitress in a diner until the day a man introduces her to prostitution. Later she is raped by at least five men and the pimp Blake “protects” her. Liz tries to escape from Blake and befriends the prostitute Katie; however Blake chases her. On the streets, she befriends the homeless Rasta (Antonio Fargas) that helps her when she needs.
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