Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Sedaka's Backstory or Neil Sedaka: King of Song (BBC 4 documentary available on iplayer)

[19/3/17: this programme was recently repeated on BBC 4 and is once again available on iplayer until 17th April 2017- the link below has been updated]

I almost didn't watch the recent documentary about Neil Sedaka, thinking it was a repeat of something which had been on BBC 4 a couple of years ago.

Nohow and contrariwise. Well, alright, not too contrariwise, as this programme, like its predecessor, was firmly in Mr Sedaka's corner: "more tribute than assessment" as the Daily Telegraph said here. I wiped the earlier show from my hard drive so can't make a detailed comparison but it's certainly my impression that Neil Sedaka: King of Song is several notches above the previous effort.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

What a Crazy World to be released on DVD

Great news!What a Crazy World, the film version of Alan Klein's Stratford East musical, is finally going to get a legitimate release on DVD ... Alright, it's in June, so you'll have to hang on for a bit, but it's still worth marking.

The company is Network, which is also good news: they have recently issued Joe Brown's later film Three Hats For Lisa in an excellent print. And according to a well-known shopping website What a Crazy World will be "a brand-new transfer from the original film elements in its as-exhibited theatrical aspect ratio."

Not a great cover - they have taken it from a publicity picture of the actors not in character - but I suppose it indicates their target audience: not film buffs but fans of the individual stars. Nevertheless this is a great film, not simply a pop star vehicle, and if it reaches as many people as possible that is a Good Thing. I have written about it, and the work of Alan Klein, at length in this blog already. Go to this page for a guide to earlier posts.

This release may also be an incentive for me to update my posts about Alan Klein. I have gone through all the newspaper reviews of the shows he has been involved with over the years, mostly at Stratford East, so watch this blog.

I do hope Alan Klein is going to make some money from the release of this DVD and that it will get the film more of the recognition it thoroughly deserves. In an interview with Spencer Leigh (which can be found in one of the posts in the guide above) he talks about how the release of A Hard Day's Night a few months later made his film suddenly seem dated.
 It was changing fast from when I started writing the stage show in 1962. The Beatles had a big impact, they swamped the business. By the time the film came out, it was probably starting to age already. It was a document of its time, even though it's dated. All I was doing was saying what people felt.
 But the verve of What a Crazy World still shines through - and not having to rely on a ropey off-air copy will make it even better.