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July 4, 2012 6:05 AM   Subscribe

All This and World War II is a 1976 musical documentary that juxtaposes Beatles songs, performed by a number of musicians, with World War II newsreel footage and 20th Century Fox films from the 1940s. It lasted two weeks in cinemas and was quickly sent into storage. "In this installment of Rock 'N Roll Case Study we talk about All This and World War II, which is perhaps one of the most bizarre movies in rock 'n roll." [via]
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates (24 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Yeah, I saw part of this on FX (I think) a few weeks ago and couldn't help but remember this. Meh.
posted by SenorJaime at 6:27 AM on July 4, 2012

Another review/essay about the film, this one from Film Threat: "All This and World War II is, hands down, the most brilliantly reckless movie I’ve ever seen. This film takes the worst idea imaginable and runs with it to great speed and greater lengths, resulting in a work that encompasses both the sublime and the ridiculous."
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:37 AM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

In the early 80's I saw this album in a dollar bin at a used record store - someone had written "SHIT" in huge letters across the cover. That was enough to scare off the impressionable young record buyer in me, so it was a few more years before I finally got to hear Keith Moon's wonderfully kooky take on "When I'm Sixty-Four".
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 7:03 AM on July 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

I remember this when it came out. Never noticed that it disappeared. But I was 19 and the drinking age was 18 and...

You would have to had lived in the 70s to really understand that decade.
posted by tommasz at 7:17 AM on July 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

My mom used to listen to this all the time. Yuck.
posted by dogma72 at 7:20 AM on July 4, 2012

You would have to had lived in the 70s to really understand that decade.

I did live in the '70s and I'm still mystified by it.
posted by octothorpe at 7:22 AM on July 4, 2012 [6 favorites]

No, the award for most bizarre rock movie of all-time has to go to the Village People's Can't Stop The Music. Okay so it's not exactly rock, but then again neither is All This and WWII.
posted by item at 7:26 AM on July 4, 2012

Bizarrely, I was made to watch this in social studies class when I was 13. I have no idea where they got the (old, worn) VHS copy, or who on staff was behind its prescription for impressionable minds such as mine.

It took me years to work out What the Hell It Was We'd Been Made to Watch.

And, oh yeah, that was the same year (and same social studies class) where we were made to watch Threads. Good times.
posted by Sonny Jim at 8:02 AM on July 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

I think I may have seen this as a midnight movie, that staple of the 70's, pre VCR, stoner time. Cheech & Chong, Reefer Madness, The Boob Tube... there were tons of flicks created and re-released knowing there was a ready bong-fueled audience prepared to sit and stare for a few hours.
posted by readery at 8:18 AM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'll echo the YT comment:

"What the actual fuck?"
posted by clvrmnky at 8:23 AM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

I totally wish this was available on DVD.
posted by GavinR at 8:52 AM on July 4, 2012

Jeeze, don't you guys read the liner notes? It says "Based on a dream by Russ Regan."

But, yeah, it was the '70s, too.

Why yes, I do have the two-disc slipcase version. Bought it at UNCC's bookstore cut-out bin in 1977.

Seriously, this does have some interesting tracks on it, the most popular one must be Elton John's "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds." But it also has Rod Stewart's "Get Back," Lynsey De Paul's beautiful "Because," Frankie Valli's "A Day in the Life" (he hits the falsetto on "Woke up / Got out of Bed"), and the Bee Gees on "Bathroom Window" "Sun King" and "Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight."

If you ignore the movie (and I've never seen it), the album's pretty good. And Keith Moon's "64" is awesome in its awfulness. Whoever thought to recruit him?
posted by Bill Peschel at 8:59 AM on July 4, 2012

I saw this album in a dollar bin at a used record store - someone had written "SHIT" in huge letters across the cover.

If you're looking in a dollar bin at a used record store, and you see a record that someone has written 'SHIT' in huge letters across it, you buy that shit.
posted by box at 9:11 AM on July 4, 2012 [9 favorites]

Almost full movie

Someone should make it their life's work to create a high-def version of this movie by reconstructing all of the songs and film clips.
posted by roll truck roll at 9:59 AM on July 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

i wonder if this played some inpirational or cautionary role in the development of the Sgt. Pepper movie, which of course features seventies musicians performing Beatles songs.
posted by mwhybark at 10:00 AM on July 4, 2012

Rod Stewart doing Get Back should be a perfect pairing. He's got the scratchy voice that's perfect for this song. Unfortunately, the actual execution sounds like the audio equivalent of smearing Vaseline on a camera lens. All the edge has been sanded off and all that is left is a limp, blurry impression of a song.
posted by thecjm at 11:00 AM on July 4, 2012

This is one of those 1970s movies that should be rated on the truckloads of cocaine scale. As in "How many truckloads of cocaine were necessary to make this sound like a good idea?"
posted by jonp72 at 11:32 AM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

I just read Easy Riders, Raging Bulls recently and "truckloads of cocaine" seems to be the answer to a lot of questions about movies in the '70s.
posted by octothorpe at 12:14 PM on July 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

Russ Regan was the record company executive credited with NAMING The Beach Boys and introducing Elton John to American pop music at a well-hyped performance in L.A. So anything he (literally) dreamed up in the 70s usually got made.

This was obviously inspired by the also-now-rare recording of the "London Symphony Orchestra Version" of The Who's Tommy which was highlighted by Rod Stewart doing "Pinball Wizard" (and used the same record producer), as well as the more-successful movie version of Tommy.

Thanks (Arsenio) & (Warren) for this... I had been pondering doing a post about this a few weeks ago (using roll truck roll's 'almost entire movie' link) but doubted it would survive online (probably everyone who'd claim copyright is just too ashamed of it).

I did discover one interesting sidelight: the music over the closing credits was neither included on the album nor an actual 'Beatles' song. It was John Lennon's first solo/Plastic Ono Band single "Give Peace a Chance" as performed in 1970 by a reggae band under contract to Apple Records (sure sign that John was fully in support of this project). The band was then known as the Hot Chocolate Band but by the time the movie came out, they were making hits like "You Sexy Thing".

And yes, Senor Jamie, this was not the absolutely biggest disaster of a movie based on Beatles songs, especially notable that the "Sgt. Pepper" movie also prominently featured the Bee Gees.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:13 PM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

I remember hearing about this as a teenager and thinking: There's no way this can possibly be any good.

And my instincts were correct.
posted by freakazoid at 7:37 PM on July 4, 2012

This is the type of thing I'd think of when people were whining about Nike using a Beatles song in an ad. I remember well that throughout the 70s, long before Michael Jackson got his shiny mitt on the Beatles catalog, the not-so-Fab-anymore Four licensed their songs for plenty of misbegotten movie and record ideas, as well as bringing out compilation after compilation of the same damn songs. The only release I thought was interesting was Live at the Hollywood Bowl, but that got quickly deleted and hasn't seen CD reissue yet.

All This And WWII was a particularly dismal profit-taking scheme. You don't expect much from lame acts like Leo Sayer and the Four Seasons, but when even Rod Stewart and Bryan Ferry can't generate excitement, you know your project is in trouble.

For this project alone, death by colon cancer was too good for Lou Reizner.
posted by Fritz Langwedge at 5:52 AM on July 5, 2012

I read this post yesterday on my mobile device so I didn't click through to the trailer or the articles, but I really thought, based on the description, that I wasn't getting something -- that it was some sort of old school Internet joke. And watching the trailer now, I really don't feel any differently. It's one of those things so strange that I don't understand how I didn't know about it until now, and I'm not entirely unconvinced that in a few days, I won't come upon a Metatalk post explaining that this is one large multiple linked, multi-media joke on the rest of us, at which point I will say "Well played."
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:19 PM on July 5, 2012

My wife and I watched the full movie the other night. It wasn't as bad as I sort of expected it to be, and some parts were quite good.

It's hard to tell what was intentional and what wasn't, but as the film goes along, an interesting theme emerges having to do with the way in which war is portrayed in popular culture. Newsreel footage and film clips are used more-or-less interchangeably, but when so much of the newsreel footage is so obviously polished and scripted, the films start to feel more reliable.

And the ending - "PEACE" headline followed by Hiroshima - might be the biggest kick in the gut I've ever seen in a war movie.
posted by roll truck roll at 1:38 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

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