Tony Palmer – All My Loving (1968)

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Film Threat:

Tony Palmer’s landmark 1968 BBC documentary on the icons of the era’s rock orbit is finally receiving its DVD premiere. Nearly four decades after its first broadcast, “All My Loving” still resonates with the wonderful and inane excesses of that loud, vibrant world.

The focus here is primarily on British rock legends (the genre is called “pop music” throughout the film). Slices of classic performance and eccentric interviews are combined to create a trippy, psychedelic experience.

Among the sublime highights: Frank Zappa recalling a bizarre performance where he shared the stage with a U.S. Marines vocal choir, The Who in two phases of their concert odyssey (a mild early club gig and full-blown furious concert engagement), Jimi Hendrix performing “Wild Thing,” a photo shoot with the Moody Blues, and a Beatles segment with Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and, of all people, George Harrison’s mother. (A DVD special feature interview with Palmer has the filmmaker noting how John Lennon influenced and assisted the film’s production – but Lennon’s absence from the interview line-up is not explained).

Among the ridiculous highlights: a semi-coherent interview with Donovan (who is shot in silhouette), Eric Burdon making a bizarre comparison between rockers coming down from an acid trip and soldiers coming back from Vietnam, and the incongruous presence of one-hit wonder Lulu (she’s the only woman featured in “All My Loving”).

Conspicuously missing from the film: the Rolling Stones (Mick Jagger is seen in a quick clip), the Dave Clark Five and every major American rock leader (Hendrix and Zappa are the only Yanks here).

While some of Palmer’s editing techniques are badly dated (particularly the shock value intercutting of Holocaust newsreel footage with the rock music), “All My Loving” is nonetheless a memorable time capsule that wonderfully preserves the sounds and emotion of an increasingly distant era.

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