Now set in the sixties, the movie opens appropriately enough in a fairground, providing an obvious flashback link to That’ll Be The Day, the first of many cross-references.
Jim MacLaine (David Essex) meets Mike and talks him into becoming road manager for his group, The Stray Cats.
The band’s sound is typical raw early-60s rock & roll and never really changes or develops throughout the movie – somewhat unconvincingly as the Stray Cats are depicted as supposedly changing the course of rock history.
After meeting a music publisher events escalate and the Stray Cats find themselves the subjects of fan adulation.
Not surprisingly many parallels can be drawn with the lives of many sixties bands, most notably, The Beatles (the suits are a dead give away guys).
Actually there’s a great scene containing a bit of a nod and a wink to the old Four: on a plane in the States, Jim is asked how he found America, and while he is giving his sensible answer one of the Stray Cats comments that “at least he didn’t say ‘turn left at Greenland'”.
Once MacLaine leaves the Stray Cats behind him to go solo (around the mid-sixties), a bizarre thing happens. Time appears to warp a little and the latter half of the sixties become the mid-seventies!
Perhaps the person in charge of continuity went on holiday or something, but in a scene which we date at around 1967 – 1968 there is a poster for The Rocky Horror Show clearly visible in the background. The show did not hit the stage until around 1973
Jim conceives the idea of a giant rock opera and retreats to a country hideaway to think out his superstar position. By now a victim of drug dependence, he attempts a comeback – and dies of an overdose just as a new chapter in his life seems about to open.
All in all, the movie is most enjoyable, showing both the highs and lows of stardom, climaxing in a dramatic finale in front of the world’s cameras.
However, the highlight of the whole thing is the late Keith Moon (from The Who) as The Stray Cats drummer, J.D. His performance alone is worth the price of the DVD.
Oh yeah . . . and watch out for Mike’s limp, too. He seems to forget which leg is the duff one!
Porter Lee Austin
Rick Lee Parmentier