LAMBERT AND STAMP

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First show: May 01

Lambert4These guys were nuts!

They wanted to make a movie so they managed a band. The band became The Who. Everything else is history. Impeccably directed by first-time documentarian James D. Cooper, the pic, chock-full of tooth-rattling ’60s Who tunes, also serves as a definitive screen bio of the band and its rock-operatic rise, and as an incisive portrait of the two men, Chris Stamp and the late Kit Lambert, who were crucial to making that happen.

Working with a treasure trove of footage and some of the greatest rock songs ever recorded, Cooper and editor Christopher Tellefsen tweak the images every which way and maintain a propulsive rhythm for nearly two hours; even the digitally simulated jiggle of celluloid here has a wicked beat. – Rob Nelson, Variety

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Having met as Shepperton Studios assistants in the early ’60s, the cultured Lambert and scrappy Stamp, both lovers of the French New Wave, imagined making an epic verite documentary about a rock band; all they needed was the rock band.

What they found in ’64 was the Who: factory-working frontman Daltrey; art-school student and guitarist Townshend; tax office employee and bassist John Entwistle; and Moon, a radio repairman and born drummer. In Cooper’s film, Stamp (younger brother of the actor Terence Stamp) hilariously recalls more or less hustling the Who into accepting him and Lambert, business novices, as their new managers. These two had no money, no connections and no knowledge of rock — but they had wily passion, which of course is everything.

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Lambert and Stamp in the mid-’60s — a vaguely Godardian mix of the intellectual and the libidinal, with Lambert confidently holding forth on the “mod movement” and its relation to British youth and class. There’s also priceless footage of Townshend offering an embryonic version of “Glittering Girl” on acoustic guitar for the approval of Lambert, whom the film reveals to have been central to the Who’s artistic evolution — and not only for giving Townshend a few of his father’s classical music LPs.

Skillfully assembling vintage images not only of the band but of London youth culture in its glory, the film shows how all things mod led to a darker, more dangerous vibe — which for the Who meant playing apocalyptically clamorous music and smashing their instruments. Such onstage chaos came to visit the band and its managers backstage, as “Tommy” brought money, drug and alcohol abuse, competitiveness, paranoia, and, eventually, the sad severing of ties between Lambert and Stamp and the Who.

 

LAMBERT AND STAMP: Upcoming Showtimes