Sunday, September 12, 2010

Jump Into the Fire

Had a chance to review the new documentary Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why is Everybody Talkin' About Him?), which is now in theaters, as they say, and highly recommended.
The most memorable sequence, and the one guaranteed to win over anybody unfamiliar or unmoved by Harry's work, is from a 1971 BBC-TV special, where (through the miracle of video-tape editing) a trio of Harrys sits behind a piano and sings a spell-binding three-part harmony version of the New Orleans classic "Let the Good Times Roll." The most jaw-dropping is an excerpt from an uncompleted documentary on the making of the Son of Schmillson album from 1972, in which Harry, dressed in a ridiculous suit and cardboard hat, gets a bunch of seriously old British geezers straight from a rest home to sing along on a tune whose endlessly repeated chorus goes "I'd rather be dead than wet my bed." It's an act of wanton cruelty and by the end really painful to watch, but I still laughed harder at it than at almost anything else I've seen in a movie this year.
Both of those scenes, as it turns out, are on YouTube (albeit in not so great quality prints); in the meantime, you can read the rest of my review over at Box Office here.