'The Beatles & World War II'
(DVD+2CD / NR / 2016 / Gonzo Multimedia)
Overview: Take a group of some of the most famous solo artists of the 70s - Elton John, Tina Turner, The Four Seasons, The Bee Gees, Bryan Ferry, Rod Stewart, David Essex, Leo Sayer, Keith Moon, Helen Reddy, Status Quo, Jeff Lynne and Frankie Valli and get them to sing cover versions of some of the most famous Beatles songs ever written, add a considerable dollop of documentary footage of the Second World War telling the story of that epic encounter, AND... what do you have? 'The Beatles and World War II' Enjoy!
DVD Verdict: OK, on a personal note (as, hey, I am the one writing this review, after all!) I personally remember when the original movie came out aka 'All This and World War II', and begging my parents to drive me to the theater to see it. I will freely admit that you have to be a fan of the Beatles and into WW2 history to really get into this movie, however.
Also, I am not lying when I tell you that I'm staring at the album soundtrack right now on my shelf in front of me. Actually, I could never figure out why they have never released 'All This and World War II' on video down the years, being that so many 'stinkers' are thrown on the shelves every year. I will admit, when I went to see it (over 20 years ago), there were few people in the audience at the theater, but the way that the music is in sync with the film footage was really great and deserved a wider viewing public at the time.
As for what this lush DVD and delightful 2CD package 'The Beatles & World War II' can offer you today, well, as Tony Palmer (the producer) himself told me about this Beatles film: "This is a completely different film from the old one, which in any case is not exactly available! The archive footage retained from the old film is approx 15% of the total, and that's it."
Indeed, the '70s was one of the most revolutionary times for mainstream cinema and one of the dullest periods for mainstream music. Only during those pre-'Star Wars' years would a major studio finance such a bizarre film experiment as this. The original film was not a successful film by any means, as noted, but it's fascinating to watch and attempt to believe that a studio head thought something this inaccessible would be a hit.
Despite being one of the most bizarre films ever from Hollywood, 'The Beatles & World War II' is back with us once again. Anything but a success in its earlier incarnation, it remains to this day (if you can find it) a collector's piece. Again, and with that all said, the main problem that stopped this being a massive cult hit is that, and despite it being rather unique and occasionally clever, this is all rather pointless.
So, whether it be the original film or the superdooper new release being reviewed here today, if there was a message, it completely flew over my head - back then and, well yeah, today also; to a point. Not that I don't love it, especially the music, but the DVD factor at just under 100 minutes is a black and white mish-mash of, well, war blurb.
Basically put, 'The Beatles and World War II' is essential Lennon and McCartney as recorded by other artists. Some interpretations and productions are next to brilliant. The soundtrack is played on a backdrop of amazingly choreographed historical and artistic footage of the War in question.
Now able to see and hear this for ourselves in the comfort of our own armchairs, the musical score alone still is fantastic. Especially in synchronicity with the old war footage. Trust me when I say, and perhaps with some of the B/W war footage aside, and your eyes closed with the music wafting over you, this magical mystery tour will really take you away!
Disc 1 (DVD) - 1.Greensleeves arr. Vaughan Williams 1:30. 2.The Fool on the Hill Helen Reddy 2:55 3.Yesterday David Essex 2:15 4.The Long and Winding Road" Leo Sayer 4:00 5.I Am the Walrus Leo Sayer 0:40 6.Come Together Tina Turner 2:10 7.Shostakovich 11th Symphony 1:40 8.I Am the Walrus - Leo Sayer - 2:00 9.Maxwell's Silver Hammer Frankie Laine 3:17 10.She's Leaving Home Bryan Ferry 0:45 11.Let It Be Leo Sayer 1:50 12.Getting Better Status Quo 1:30 13.Help! Henry Gross 1:50 14.Nowhere Man Jeff Lynne 3:00 15. With a Little Help from My Friends Jeff Lynne 01:20 16.'Army Air Corps' song - Robert MacArthur Crawford - 0:53 17.Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds Elton John 3:39 18.She Came In Through the Bathroom Window - Bee Gees 0:06 19.With a Little Help from My Friends Jeff Lynne 01:00 20.Because - Lynsey de Paul 0:55 21.Get Back - Rod Stewart 01:00 22.Nowhere Man - Jeff Lynne 0:23 23.We Can Work It Out - The Four Seasons 0:10 24.'Oche Nash' from St John Chrysostom Liturgy, Rachmaninoff 04:30 25.Shostakovich 11th Symphony 02:45 26.A Day In The Life - Frankie Valli 03:55 27.Michelle - Richard Cocciante 03:55 28.The Long and Winding Road" Leo Sayer 1:49 29.Victory March - Sousa 0:20 30.The End - Will Malone 0:05 31.When I'm Sixty-Four Keith Moon 0:30 32.Golden Slumbers The Bee Gees 1:20 33.Strawberry Fields Forever - Peter Gabriel 1:40 34.Hey Jude The Brothers Johnson 1:30 35.Shostakovich 4th Symphony 06:35 36.Fool on the Hill - John Williams (arr. Brouwer) 2:24
Disc 2 (CD 1) - 1.The Fool on The Hill - Helen Reddy 2.Yesterday - David Essex 3.The Long & Winding Road - Leo Sayer 4.I Am The Walrus - Leo Sayer 5.Come Together - Tina Turner 6.Maxwell's Silver Hammer - Frankie Laine 7.She's Leaving Home - Bryan Ferry 8.Let It Be - Leo Sayer 9.Getting Better - Status Quo 10.Help! - Henry Gross 11.Nowhere Man - Jeff Lynne 12.Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds - Elton John
Disc 3 (CD 2) - 1.With A Little Help From My Friends - Jeff Lynne 2.Because - Lynsey De Paul 3.Get Back - Rod Stewart 4.We Can Work It Out - Four Seasons 5.A Day In The Life - Frankie Valli 6.Michelle - Richard Cocciante 7.When I'm Sixty Four - Keith Moon 8.Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight - The Bee Gees 9.Strawberry Fields - Peter Gabriel 10.Hey Jude - The Brothers Johnson 11.Lennon speaks 12.The Fool on the Hill - John Williams. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.