I don’t remember LISZTOMANIA lingering around for very long, so never seen it until now. This now seems like a bad acid trip, the height of ‘70s pretentiousness – the central idea is great, to show the great composer as the rock star of his day, but the execution is a nightmare as we seem trapped in an endless rock concert, drably staged as Ken’s excesses run away with him – cue a giant plastic phallus being dragged to a guillotine as Liszt screams and those castrating women (think Glenda in THE MUSIC LOVERS) gleefully writhe and open their legs ….. Roger Daltry and his pals Paul Nicholas (Wagner as a vampire at one stage), Ringo Starr (the Pope, with movie star photos adorning his vestments) and Rik Wakeman painted silver must have thought they were hallucinating it all. Then theres the endless rows of young girls screaming for their hero ….
Daltry was great in The Who (as I saw up close in 1968) but the movie camera does not love him in the same way – that wonky nose is too prominent and his performance, if one could call it such, is strictly one note, but perhaps he was just a pawn in his director’s increasingly deranged fantasies. With Sarah Kestleman, Fiona Lewis, Veronica Quilligan, and John Justin as the Count who has to duel with a naked Liszt swinging from chandeliers! Oliver Reed also walks through. Those other Liszt films are masterpieces compared to this farrago. Does Trash get more lurid - or boring ? Ok, its absolute crap.
Ken's stock must have been high then though, as opposed to his later years, as he could get rock stars and top names (like Nureyev) to appear in his increasingly bonkers movies, even in the '80s with Kathleen Turner, Tony Perkins etc.
this and Scorsese’s overblown NEW YORK NEW YORK (which I love dearly) must have proved very expensive for them.
Nureyev at least looks great as the ballroom dancer with his animal-like grace and sense of humour, he dances quite a lot actually. Huge liberties are taken though like that whole ‘pink powderpuff’ and that fight in the ring, which are pure Russell fantasies. Russell’s wife Shirley again provides the over the top costumes. The magazines, below, had a field day ...
Tomorrow: we tackle NIJINSKI from 1980 !