“He hears but cannot answer to your call.”
A young boy (Barry Winch) whose mother (Ann-Margret) becomes a widow during WWII grows up blind, deaf, and mute. As an adult, Tommy (Roger Daltrey) is taken by his mother and step-father (Oliver Reed) to a preacher (Eric Clapton) and an “Acid Queen” (Tina Turner) who attempt to cure him, and is also left with abusive caretakers (Paul Nicholas and Keith Moon) who fail to elicit any reaction. When Tommy becomes a pinball champion, however, he develops an enormous following, and is soon a figure of religious reverence.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Ann-Margret Films
- Jack Nicholson Films
- Ken Russell Films
- Oliver Reed Films
- Rock ‘n Roll
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that Ken Russell’s screen adaptation of “The Who’s rock opera” album — about a “deaf, dumb, and blind English boy who is pitied, ignored, abandoned, and abused until his pinball wizardry makes him a national hero”:
— is “ambitious, flamboyant, and at times imaginative, but eventually the succession of wild, colorful, and sometimes disgusting images wears you down”. He argues that “the picture’s about 40 minutes too long”, and that “another problem is that the score by Pete Townshend (with help from John Entwhistle and Keith Moon) doesn’t compare to the best Who music.” I’m in agreement with Peary’s assessment, and find it surprising that Ann-Margret — playing Tommy’s “tormented, heavy-drinking mother” — was nominated for an Oscar (presumably due to her multiple age-portrayals and impressively high level of dramatic “commitment”).
With all that said, this film is much too creatively staged and shot not to be seen at least once — and fans will likely enjoy repeat visits.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Endlessly creative and surreal imagery, sets, and costumes
- Stellar cinematography
Once, as a dizzying cult favorite by a reknowned director.