Thursday, May 10, 2007

Overlooked Movie: Born to Boogie

“So, would you like to hear some more?” ~Marc Bolan

Glam rock superstars T. Rex and their flamboyant frontman, Marc Bolan, were at the height of their fame in the spring of 1972, thanks to a string of hit singles and the smash album Electric Warrior, when former Beatles drummer and budding filmmaker Ringo Starr approached Bolan with the idea of making a movie about the band. Starr filmed a pair of T. Rex concerts, a studio jam session, and included some eccentric comedy bits for texture (including a sequence in which a Mad Hatter-styled Bolan plays a medley of T. Rex hits backed by a string quartet while a group of nuns feast on hamburgers). The result was Born to Boogie, a frantic document of Great Britain's collective bout with "T. Rex-stacy," and the definitive record of Bolan's strutting charisma. Songs include "Bang a Gong (Get It On)," "Jeepster," "Hot Love," "Telegram Sam," "Baby Strange," "Children of the Revolution," and more.

Click here to watch a clip...some people like to rock...

The concert scenes in this film were shot at at the 10,000-seat Wembley Empire Pool in North-West London. (The venue had been constructed to host swimming and ice skating competitions during the 1934 Empire Games. Over the years it hosted tennis, boxing, table tennis and cycle racing, and was even home to Gibraltan refugees during the Second World War. At the War’s end the swimming pool remained closed, so the building was adapted for other large-scale events.)

Tickets for this Saturday 18 March 1972 show were priced at 75 pence, went on sale on 18 February and sold out in days.

Originally Ringo Starr approached Marc Bolan in 1971 with an idea to include him in a series of documentary films about superstars of the era, such as Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, and troubled footballer George Best. These plans never came to fruition, but when Ringo discovered that Bolan was intent on filming the Wembley shows, the idea was revived, and so a deal was struck to make a movie (50/50 between Apple and Bolan’s Wizard Artists company) with a working title of ‘T.Rex In Concert'.

The studio Jam session featured the members of T. Rex with Elton John and Ringo Starr on a second set of drums (you can never have too many drums) in the Beatles' Apple Studios performing Tutti Frutti and Children of the Revolution.

Click here to watch Children of the Revolution:

The Tea Party sequence was filmed at John Lennon's estate in the same spots as Lennon's "Imagine" video was filmed. Marc Bolan's wife June plays one of the nuns in the sequence.

Bolan reported that Starr shot over fifty hours of footage but it was cut down to just 64 minutes for the final cut.

The UK premiere was held at Oscar’s cinema in Brewer Street, Soho on 14 December 1972, attended by T.Rex, Ringo Starr and Elton John (sporting his famous ZOOM glasses). Marc’s wife June was initially refused admission, as an over-zealous doorman considered her claim to be Mrs Bolan just another ruse to get close to the star of the show. The after-show party at Tramps nightclub also played host to Donovan, Bernie Taupin and Keith Moon.

After it's initial release the film faded into obscurity only to be trotted out by film appreciation societies on rare occasions. It had a breif release on VHS in the early 90's but went out of print quickly. In 2006 the movie was finally released on DVD complete with outtakes thought lost to the ages.

Here's an I Love the 70's tribute to Bolan:

And as a special bonus a few great T. Rex songs in video form!

20th Century Boy:

Metal guru:



Scurvy said...

I have always been a big T.Rex fan, but I have actually yet to view this film. It's on my list now. Thanks. :)

I don't know if you have it or not, but in the early 90's I bought the boxed set, and there is a pretty good solo acoustic radio appearance on the 4th cassette (or disc if that's what you have)

Becca said...

As a T. Rex fan I would say you should certainly see this, it's so weird and the garden party sequence is great. Just Marc and his guitar doing a medley of Rex songs backed by string instruments, really excellent music!

Becca said...

Oh and I don't have that box set but they have been remastering the albums and re-releasing them with extra tracks, pretty awesome.