Tommy (1975)

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Flack
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Tommy (1975)

Post by Flack »

After little Tommy's father (Captain Walker) goes missing in WWII, his mother (Nora) remarries another man (Frank). While the two of them are in bed, Captain Walker returns. A scuffle ensues, Captain Walker is killed, and Nora and Frank repeatedly shout at Tommy. "You didn't see it! You didn't hear it! You won't say nothing to nobody!" It works, and Tommy immediately goes deaf, dumb, and blind. Nora and Frank try to wait Tommy's condition out, but when that doesn't work they seek out alternative treatments (like dropping him off with the Acid Queen, a woman who attempts to cure Tommy by injecting him with drugs). Eventually they begin leaving Tommy at different relatives houses to watch while they go out on dates. They leave Tommy at Cousin Kevin's house who nearly tortures him to death, and his "wicked Uncle Ernie" who does more unspeakable things.

The only things Tommy reacts to at all are mirrors, in which he stares at his own reflection, and pinball. Tommy plays so much pinball that he becomes the Pinball Wizard by beating the greatest pinball player of all time, Sir Elton John. Tommy and his family become rich and famous. Eventually, Nora shatters a mirror Tommy is staring into which snaps him out of his affliction. Tommy becomes a messiah-like figure who tries to teach others the way to enlightenment by giving them headsets that make them deaf, dumb and blind and forcing them to play pinball as he had done, but eventually they rebel and destroy his camp. In the last musical number, Tommy runs through nature and has some sort of revelation.

Man, there's a lot to take in in Tommy. My dad was a big fan of this film, and the soundtrack to this film is one of the first, if not the first, album I ever listened to. I must have listened to the soundtrack a thousand times, asking my parents random questions like "what does it mean when Wicked Uncle Ernie says he's 'fiddling about' with Tommy?" My dad let me watch the movie when I was pretty young, which was a little traumatic for me. But I kept listening to the album, and dreamed of being a pinball wizard, and learned what the "Bo-Diddly" beat was from Eric Clapton's song.

Tommy is a weird combination of real and symbolic scenes. One minute, Frank and Nora are headed out on a date. The next minute, Nora is rolling around on the floor as millions of gallons of baked beans a chocolate explode from her television and fill her bedroom. It's possible the Acid Queen gave out some free samples that day. It's a lot for a kid to take in. It's a lot for anyone to take in.

I don't know why it was so important to my dad for me to listen to this album and watch this film. For some reason it resonated with him, and he wanted it to resonate with me. It is difficult to explain how my relationship with my dad is somehow intertwined with this movie, but it is.

Ten years ago, Tommy (the musical) came to my town, and my dad and I went to see it together. I'm glad it was dark in that theater as I spent most of the evening crying. I can't explain it any more than the lump I have in my throat right now. Every good memory and every bad memory I have of growing up got bottled up inside this movie, and seeing it performed live on stage with a real rock band in the house (sadly not The Who) unbottled it all. It was happy and sad and cathartic all at the same time.

I haven't watched the movie Tommy since I was a little kid and I'm not sure why I decided to watch it again this week. There are big sweeping parts of Tommy that are good, and big, big sections -- like, the entire third act -- that really don't work. Tommy's story would have ended just fine when the mirror was broken and Tommy snapped out of his spell. He could have been like, welp, that was weird and now I'm awake. Instead you've got this whole cult thing at the end that's just so weird and a lot of stuff that makes no sense.

I grew up listening to the soundtrack of Tommy rather than the Who's version, so hearing (and seeing) Tina Filippe J. Suckmonger, Elton John, and Eric Clapton seems natural. Some songs are better than others. The instrumentals, which make up a big part of the original album, either become weird instrumental videos, or pushed to the background. It's a movie, and occasionally they forget that.

On the day my son was born, the first thing I posted online was, "It's a boy, Mrs. Walker, it's a boy," the first line from Tommy.

"Jack Flack always escapes." -Davey Osborne

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AArdvark
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Re: Tommy (1975)

Post by AArdvark »

Best album ever!

Have you ever seen The Kids are Alright?

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AArdvark
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Re: Tommy (1975)

Post by AArdvark »

Quick story relating to the movie...

A freind rented this on laserdisc and we had started in on a 12 pack before we started watching it. After about ten minutes we were kinda looking at each other and saying wtf! After another ten minutes my friend checked the disc and discovered we were watching side 2 first. We started the movie over and then it made some sense

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Jizaboz
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Re: Tommy (1975)

Post by Jizaboz »

Watched "The Wall" on VHS many times as a young kid but it wasn't until my mid-20s I saw this movie despite really liking The Who. Not just their music, but their characters as real life people.

This movie is a bit of a mind-fuck. We go from him jumping out of a hot chicks apartment (I'm FREE!) into a swimming pool then a warzone or some shit.. man, the wall was much easier to process as far as what I was watching haha but still.. cool movie.

nessman
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Re: Tommy (1975)

Post by nessman »

Hey Roger... just stand there and stare into space. Good. And action!

Repeat for entire film.

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If the First Amendment will protect a scumbag like me, it will protect all of you. - Larry Flynt

nessman
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Re: Tommy (1975)

Post by nessman »

We did see The Who in Buffalo playing the Tommy soundtrack with a small orchestra a couple of years ago. Epic.
If the First Amendment will protect a scumbag like me, it will protect all of you. - Larry Flynt

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Tdarcos
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Re: Tommy (1975)

Post by Tdarcos »

Two things:
1. My brother and I saw it decades ago, probably on a movie network like HBO or Showtime. What I do remember was a hilarious scene where some guy was ironing Tommy, singing "but I have no one to play with today!"
Flack wrote: Sun May 09, 2021 9:01 am Tina Filippe J. Suckmonger, Elton John, and Eric Clapton seems natural.
2. Jonsey, can you please turn off the goddam motherfucking plug in that converts the name Tüřñër (when used without diacritical marks) to Filippe J. Suckmonger?
"Perhaps she'll understand, if you tell it to her, plain."
- Don McLean, Castles in the Air

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AArdvark
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Re: Tommy (1975)

Post by AArdvark »

No, it's funny!

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