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  • AA
  • Drama, Fantasy
  • 1975
  • 111 mins




A pompous, overwrought slurry of unintelligible psychedelia, gigantic egos and ridiculous costumes. Worth watching, just in case you ever took The Who seriously. Ken Russell directs


The Who's pomp-rock opera about fickle hero-worship tracks Daltrey's ascension from deaf, dumb and blind kid to penny arcade saviour. Russell's adaptation is as overblown as its plot-line.

After his father dies, young Daltrey falls into a funk. The only stimulation to which he'll respond is a pinball machine. He perfects his technique, playing from Soho to Brighton, beating John to become the game's undisputed wizard. His victory attracts a following who mistake his staring silence as spiritual depth and his status mushrooms from celebrity to deity before he's outshone by the next star emerging over the horizon.

Russell's hypertrophied direction actually manages to exaggerate the pretentious obesity of Townsend's vision. Momentary relief comes from turns by Keith Moon as the fiddling Uncle Ernie and Tina Turner as the sexy Acid Queen, while Daltrey showed enough talent to ensure another career when The Who's own bubble burst.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Elton John, Oliver Reed, Ann-Margret, Jack Nicholson, Roger Daltrey, Eric Clapton
  • Director: Ken Russell
  • Writer: Ken Russell
  • Producer: Ken Russell, Robert Stigwood
  • Photographer: Ronnie Taylor, Robin Lehman, Dick Bush
  • Composer: John Entwistle, Pete Townshend, Keith Moon

In a nutshell

Overlong, over-indulgent, overdone. Ken Russell's take on The Who's shambolic rock opera could stand as the definition of his lack of restraint as a filmmaker.

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