209 Great Directors: Ken Russell

“The whole idea had degenerated into a series of third-rate clichés. I wanted to dress people in old clothes and do it in a totally unreal way, and thus make it more real than ever, and in the process send up this new civil service/academic way of doing films.”


What Got This Director Here?
: Anger over The Devils’ censorship.

My Favorite Past Experience Was…: The Devils.

What Did I Watch: Tommy.

Where Does He Fit: Jack Nicholson sings in Tommy (or he’s lip syncing). So does Ann-Margret, and she has to hump an oblong pillow while covered in chocolate meant to resemble shit or soap cast as champagne. She was nominated for an Oscar for this role as the desperate mother of a deaf, dumb, and blind child who is a pinball genius, with everything being sung through by The Who’s score. This project cost a whole lot of money, featured a baked bean bath, and is Ken Russell’s most notoriously bugfuck work. This does not make it his most coherent, but I think I liked it anyway although it’s much too long. Try and watch The Devils instead, though, as its “so crazy you gotta see it” stylings are much more intelligent.

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Most Valuable Asset: The world is mad and awful.
Most Excited For: Altered States.
Did They Deserve a Spot?: Yes.

Coming Up Next: Blake Edwards and his love of elegance.

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