All This and World War II (1976)

PG   |    |  Documentary, History, Music

All This and World War II (1976) Poster

Beatles' "significance" pushed to the breaking point in this bizarre documentary that juxtaposes their songs (sung by a number of rock stars) with World War II newsreel footage. Helen Reddy... See full summary »



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Susan Winslow

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13 January 2006 | ptb-8
| Get Back, it's gonna go KA-BOOM!!!
Fox must have had very big hopes for this documentary by Susan Winslow. She had previously produced BROTHER CAN YOU SPARE A DIME for Phillipe Mora which married 30s newsreel and mostly Warner Bros movie footage to gramophone songs of the period...a bit like PENNIES FROM HEAVEN, but as a narrative and narration free jigsaw puzzle of depression era imagery. She later produced the superb documentary on George Stevens: A FILM MAKERS JOURNEY which you must see for a definitive look at this great director's career. This time round, mid 70s and post THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT and just after TOMMY and its retro Brit rock success, somehow the idea to have The Beatles chart-hit songbook narrate World War 2 via Newsreels and 40s era Fox movies must have seemed like a great cocaine boardroom fueled possibility. So the context to create this film was definite and legitimate. It opened in Australia in the same huge 70mm Cinerama screen palaces that screened big Fox pix like The Poseidon Adventure or Butch Cassidy. I saw it at The Plaza Sydney which was the 1200 seat Imax style Spanish galleon plaster palace design - home of those pix above as well as long run reserve seat roadshows like Lucky Lady, and Mad Mad World. The opening salvo of Battleships Beatles and Blitzkreig in mega 6 track magnetic stereo through whopper speakers was enough to derail the subway below and send the audience to Jupiter. What followed was such a bizarre but strangely compelling visual and aural collision that it seemed so ambitious and ugly that it worked. I think there was only about 20 people at that session. It lasted a week or so and was quickly sent into storage. Even a few years later I ran it at my holiday resort cinema without even a wisp of curiosity or possibility that it might become a cult item. Probably it is a noble failure that might now be watchable for half an hour or so, but like BROTHER/DIME it became tiresome after 40 minutes when you realized, ironically, Peggy Lee style 'Is that all there is?". No story, just newsreel - Beatles MTV.

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