Beatles fans like me looked forward to a movie featuring two of the fab four in 1984. That is until it actually arrived. This film, written by Paul McCartney himself, showed up D.O.A. on it’s opening weekend, with some of the worst reviews and buzz of the year. It turns out that the film was not as bad as I remembered, but I also recall why I have not seen it again in the thirty years since it came out. Basically, it is a mess. Sometimes there are interesting ideas, like you often found in a music video from the 80s, but an interesting visual cue is not enough to sustain interest in a ninety minute film.
Essentially, “Give My Regards to Broad Street” is a thin justification for stringing together partially realized music videos featuring old Beatles hits, Wings songs from the 70s and some current (1984) ballads. I suspect if you dropped in for a musical sequence or two, and then skipped the rest of the movie, you might enjoy some of what you saw. Sticking it out for the whole run at one sitting will try your patience and it might kill any interest you have in watching a long form music video presentation ever again.
For a year before this movie hit, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” had ruled the radio airwaves and the TV screens turned to MTV. A month or so before the movie came out, the soundtrack to “Purple Rain” was released and suddenly, there was a different set of songs dominating the radio. The first time I can remember hearing “When Doves Cry” was when I was browsing the aisles of the Alhambra Bookstore on Main Street, killing time and feeding another one of my habits, book buying. The stereo system at the bookstore was not particularly elaborate, after all they sold books not music, but it was loud enough that when the percussion on the song kicked in, everybody looked up and our bodies started unconsciously moving to the music. This would be the soundtrack for our lives in the Summer of 1984.
“Purple Rain” has been praised for it’s innovative shooting of concert footage and clever editing of montages, and it has been criticized for it’s amateurish acting and ham-fisted story line. I’m going to concur on both counts but forgive the later because the music and the former are so overwhelmingly positive. Continue reading →
The 1980s are alive and living on You Tube, which was the only place I could find this film to watch for the project. It exists on VHS, there is a Region 2 copy on DVD, and a 1990 Laser Disc which is going for $59 on ebay. Since the VHS fits the time period, I was tempted to buy a copy from ebay, but then I’d have to dig out my player and I’m not sure where it is. I don’t have a Region free DVD player, and I was not spending 60 bucks to add this to the project. As of the moment it has not had a U.S. DVD release and there is no blu ray. It’s also such a small movie that I feel no guilt that I watched it on my Kindle.
This movie features a science fiction, love story in the brave new world of computer technology, circa 1984. It gets a few things right and it does advance some of the same thoughts about the loneliness of Artificial Intelligence that “Her” expressed. It is also a watershed moment for music video directors getting into the film business. Continue reading →