I suspect it would’ve been this Film Threat article that introduced me to this… whatever the fuck this thing is. More recently, thanks (if “thanks” is the right word) to this Dangerous Minds piece, I’ve now had the opportunity to actually see it. And to some degree I suppose I’m glad I did, because I might never have believed such a… thing as this could exist. Fuck, I’ve seen it now and I still don’t believe it. There’s much more background on the thing here, with some genuinely startling information.
Anyway, in short, the film appears to have been modelled on Philippe Mora’s Brother Can You Spare a Dime (the credited director here, Susan Winslow, also did research on that), which combined 30s newsreel footage and clips from 1930s films to paint a portrait of the Great Depression. All This would do the same for WW2… but, rather than use period songs like the earlier film, it’d use Beatles songs. Or rather cover versions of them. Mostly horrible, and even more poorly applied (surely even Beatles haters must feel sympathy for them if they saw this, although neither Lennon nor McCartney seems to have thought it was a bad idea to let this happen to their music). What, the Bee Gees doing “Sun King” as Japanese planes set out for Pearl Harbour? Leo Sayer doing “I am the Walrus” during the strike? Recruitment and boot camp scenes soundtracked by FRANKIE LAINE singing “MAXWELL’S SILVER HAMMER”? And the finished film being released by 20TH CENTURY FOX? I mean, HOW THE CHRISTING FUCK DID THIS HAPPEN? Seriously—someone not only had the idea for this film (from a dream, yet), but a major Hollywood studio let them make it. At no point did anyone seem to have thought, “this is in fucking atrocious taste, we really should stop”. I honestly don’t know whether to bow down before its perverted genius or weep for humanity. A critical and commercial bomb resulted—bizarrely, the soundtrack album made more money than the film—albeit one that somehow made it to Cannes in 1977. 20CF have since done their best to bury it (too late once the horse had bolted, though), and it will almost certainly never see any legitimate home release for a number of reasons, many of them doubtless good; I’m happy to let a Youtube rip of a dodgy VHS bootleg do me.