January 19, 2014
Shout Factory has announced the upcoming Blu-ray release of Joe Massot's Wonderwall (1968), starring Jane Birkin and Jack MacGowran. The film was released on by Rhino on DVD in 2002 (with handmade edition in 2004), but has since gone out of print. Shout Factory's release will offer the first Hi-def edition of the movie. George Harrison provided the soundtrack, which fused electric and traditional Indian instruments in a kaleidoscope of sound. Harrison recorded the Wonderwall Music album between December 1967 and January 1968, and it was the first solo Beatles record and first release on the band's Apple label (personnel included Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Peter Tork of The Monkees, and members of The Remo Four).
From the press release: "Jack MacGowran plays Oscar Collins, an eccentric butterfly scientist who becomes obsessed with his neighbour, Penny Lane ( Birkin) after discovering a secret peephole in the wall between their flats. Penny is a young and beautiful fashion model, who spends her days in her rainbow painted pop apartment smoking dope, cavorting around in various states of undress and making love to her sexy boyfriends. Collins is soon overcome by his delusional fantasies about her, and repeatedly loses himself in trippy musical daydreams." The film also includes an appearance by Anita Pallenberg (Candy, Barbarella, Performance). Notable credits include Cinematographer Harry Waxman (The Wicker Man, The Pink Panther Strike Again, and The Family Way- w soundtrack by Paul McCartney), Production Designer Assheton Gorton (The Bed-Sitting Room, Get Carter, and The Magic Christian- starring Ringo Starr), and Costume Designer Jocelyn Rickards (From Russia With Love, The Knack…and How To Get It, and Blow-Up). Movie trailer below:
Spy Vibers will recognize the stars of the film from their iconic performances in the 1960s. Jack MacGowran appeared in The Fearless Vampire Killers (Polanski/1967), How I Won the War (Lester/1967), and in episodes of Danger Man, Secret Agent, The Avengers, and The Champions. Jane Birkin has been featured often on Spy Vibe. In addition to her relationships with James Bond composer John Barry and French composer/actor Serge Gainsbourg, Birkin had a successful career as a model and singer. She appeared in The Knack…and How to Get It (Lester/1965) and Blow-Up (Antonioni/1966). One of my fave Birkin releases is her 2006 arrangement of Bryan Ferry's In Every Dream Home a Heartache. Image below of Jack MacGowran in The Avengers ("The Winged Avenger") from Mrs. Peel We're Needed.
Wonderwall provides an interesting window into the world of 1967-1968, which began to highlight counter-culture and psychedelic pop fantasies in the context of youth, the arts, and society. This was the era of Barbarella, The Monkees Head, Magical Mystery Tour, Easy Rider, Yellow Submarine, Tonite Let's All Make Love in London, Girl On a Motorcycle, 2001 A Space Odyssey, Planet of the Apes, Rosemary's Baby, The Party, and Danger Diabolik. There was definitely something in the water! Shout Factory will release Wonderwall on March 25th. Amazon pre-order page here . George Harrison's soundtrack album is currently out of print. The band Oasis often mined 1960s Fab culture for inspiration. They released their gorgeous mega-hit Wonderwall in 1995. Spy Vibe's review of the 1968 Exhibit here . Spy Vibe posts about the satire boom in England in the 1960s: UK Satire Boom, UK Satire/Surrealism Peter Sellers to John Lennon, The Prisoner Fallout.