Movie Magazine International

Wonderwall: The Movie

UK - 1969

Movie Review By Monica Sullivan

Ah, the fall of 1968: A more innocent time? Except in selectively edited newsreels, not really. It WAS the last season that the Beatles would be performing together as a group. On 30 January, 1969, the London rooftop concert marked the band's last public appearance, to be followed by 25 years of expensive litigation. "Wonderwall" is supposed to represent the first solo effort by a Beatle, although I seem to remember squirming through a 1966 Hayley Mills flick called "The Family Way" with a soundtrack by Paul McCartney. In its own weird way, "Wonderwall" is rather a squirmer, too, but the out-of-print score by George Harrison suggests a promise that was fulfilled two years later with his "All Things Must Pass".

"Wonderwall" takes a rosy look at voyeur Oscar Collins, played by 52-year-old Jack MacGowran, one of Britain's best & funniest character actors. Oscar is obsessed by Penny, the dolly bird next door, played by Jane Birkin, then 22. Accompanied by Harrison's Shankaresque background music, Oscar stops going to work so he can spend all his time watching Penny through a hole in their adjoining walls. Despite her status as a Vogue cover girl, Penny is edging towards suicidal despair: Her boyfriend (Iain Quarrier) is about to ditch her. Meanwhile, Oscar's colleague Perkins (astringently played as always by Richard Wattis) keeps pestering Oscar about when he intends to return to work. "Wonderwall" feels like a music video padded to make a feature-length film. It was barely noticed at the time of its original release & those who did notice "Wonderwall" were even unkinder to it than they had been to "The Family Way." Even the biggest Beatles fans in the world know the title, but nothing else about "Wonderwall". As a time capsule rather than as some sort of lost masterpiece, this Joe Massot indie is a curio, to be sure, & for that reason alone it's worth a look if it surfaces at a neighborhood bijou near you

© 2000 - Monica Sullivan - Air Date: 11/8/00

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