Off-Kilter Filmatic Prophecy
Performance was from a Donald Cammell screenplay, and this writer also directed it with Nicolas Roeg in 1970. The soundtrack is superb, especially the "Memo from Turner."* It is an intriguing, yet violently disturbing (screaming people did an exodus at a screening in Santa Monica) story of a Cockney gangster. This wiseguy, Chas, played by James Fox (Day of the Jackal) is on the run from his mob cohorts after he kills a competitor, Joey. This *** out of four, 105 minute bizarre film featured also: Michele Breton, Anne Sidney, and John Burdon. This story of a brutish but businesslike man's trying to find sanctuary on the lam amongst the hip underground of London is interdispersed with split second flashes, some back, some forward; and a collage of seemingly irrelevant present scenes.
It is a laid back musician and landlord: Turner, played by Mick Jagger, who leases to the now crimson-dyed haired refugee one of his stuffy, but texturally visually appealing, apartments, whose visage seems to be rearranged upon every cinematic scene change.
The metamorphosis of Chas' sado-masochistic macho romantic lifestyle (he whipped his nail digging girl), is dramatized. Originally he said what he thought of the sometimes crossdressing Turner's other two female lovers' (one played by Anita Pallenburg) fuzzy sexuality: "It's a freak show---beatniks, druggers, free love." It all begins when Turner sees Chas' declaration: "I know who I am..." as a personal quest. The girls feed Chas and then get him to change into period costumes, whose exoticity accelerates.
The experiment continues when he gets this tyrannical runaway to agree to, "Nothing is true, everything is permitted...." Turner eventually dresses like this English Mafioso, while Chas finally learns gentleness with Lucy, but in this trip insanity prevails with the mingled-mangled personality and gender-bender environment, and Death merges both characters in the end.
Here is what Mick Jagger said about this movie and writing soundtracks:
I feel I did create something. It was enjoyable as far as that was concerned. That's what made it such hard work.--- He's deploring the lack of ritual in violence. The way of coping with the violence is to sort of act it out theatrically. I personally don't feel I have to do it. Part of me does. But some people do. There are some in our society who have to do so to deal with it or to deal with that part of you and therefore that part of the majority need to stage some kind of violence.
I don't understand the connection between music and violence. Donald's always trying to explain it to me and I just blindly carry on. I just know that I get very aroused by music, but it doesn't arouse me violently. I never went to a rock-and-roll show and wanted to smash the windows or beat anybody up afterwards. I feel more sexual than actually physically violent. ---
Film people wonder why musicians don't like working with them. It's because they don't treat them well. They all think they're so groovy. They think they can just snap their fingers. Keith and I were asked to do the music for Candy. We went to see these people and they were just bullshitters an jivers. They made such a scene and only wanted to pay us &2,000 flat with no royalties or anything with all those songs we would have to write. it is hard to make film soundtracks and rock-and-roll groups can't really do it.
I said I would give away any money earned from the Maysles' film of Altamont. I'm open to any suggestions.
*Memo From Turner Mick Jagger / Keith Richard
Didn't I see you down in An-tone on a hot and dusty night?
You were eating eggs in Sammy's when the black man there drew his knife,
Or you drowned that Jew in Rampton as he washed his sleeve-less shirt.
You know that Spanish speaking gentleman, the one that we all call Kurt.
come now gentleman, I know there some mistake
How forgetful i'm becoming now, you fixed your business straight.
Source: Rolling Stones; ed. David Dalton, 1972.
Leonard Maltin's Movie and Video Guide, 1995