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‘Performance’: Inside the Rock ‘n’ Roll Movie Too Shocking for the ’60s

‘Performance’: Inside the Rock ‘n’ Roll Movie Too Shocking for the ’60s

“Even the bath water was dirty.” According to director Nicolas Roeg, that was the reaction of an appalled Warner Bros. executive at a test screening of “Performance” in 1968, one that went so badly that even studio staff walked out. It was shelved for 18 months before being unceremoniously dumped into cinemas in 1970.

Fifty years later, it’s considered a classic. In his critically acclaimed Channel 4 documentary miniseries, “The Story of Film,” director and critic Mark Cousins said: “If any movie should be compulsory viewing for filmmakers, maybe this is it.” Co-directed by Roeg and Donald Cammell, “Performance” is sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll distilled to its purest visual expression. And now, a new limited-edition coffee-table book from Coattail Publications, “Performance: The Making of a Classic,” goes down the rabbit hole and reveals new details about the movie and its 1968 production.

In a phone interview, the book’s author admitted

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