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Born to Boogie + Stardust quad poster

British cinema and pop music have long had a symbiotic relationship, and this was never truer than in the 1970s, a decade that saw numerous film/rock star crossover projects and a dramatic musical evolution from glam rock to punk. Rock and Roll, a “16mm” double bill by Lost Reels, showcases two quintessential features from the first half of the decade: Born to Boogie (1972), a concert film / fantasy featuring Marc Bolan and T-Rex directed by Ringo Starr; and Stardust (1974), the rise-and-fall of a Beatle-esque band, directed by Michael Apted featuring real-life musicians David Essex, Adam Faith, Dave Edmunds and Keith Moon.

Born to Boogie (1972), directed by Ringo Starr. Colour. Cert U. 67 minutes.

In the early 70s the Beatles’ Apple Films produced this Ringo Starr-directed documentary, mixing 16mm footage of Marc Bolan in concert; Bolan, Elton John and Ringo in staged musical sequences; and various characters in Magical Mystery Tour-style fantasy scenes. The result is an engaging and memorable short feature. There’s no denying Bolan’s talent, charisma, and rock sensibility, or the near-crazed enthusiasm of his fans captured in this snapshot of “Bolanmania”. The concert material recalls a time when pop events with screaming teeny boppers were supervised by aging uniformed ushers, and the footage of Elton, Ringo and Bolan jamming to Bolan’s greatest hits at Apple Studios is priceless. The Tea Party sequence features TV’s Catweazle Geoffrey Bayldon, and Bolan’s wife June appears uncredited as a nun. For many years the film was thought to be lost, but damaged elements were recovered in the early 2000s and a major restoration by Bolan’s son Rolan led to home media releases in 2006 and 2016. Screened at the BFI in 2016 the film was returned to cinema audiences, but with the two DVD releases now out of print and online streamers showing little interest, the film is again becoming difficult to see.

Born to Boogie image

Since no projectible film prints are known to exist this 16mm feature will be screened from Blu-ray (courtesy of Lost Reels).

Stardust (1974), directed by Michael Apted. Colour. Cert 15. 111 minutes.

Stardust is the rarely screened sequel to That’ll Be the Day (1973) also written by Ray Connolly and featuring 1970s pop icon David Essex as rock star Jim MacLaine, leader of The Stray Cats, a fictional Beatle-esque band that rise to superstardom in the early 70s. Expertly directed by Michael Apted (only his second feature) and shot with gritty realism by Tony Richmond, the film is surprisingly candid for a mainstream film about sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. Featuring Keith Moon as the band’s drummer, songs by Dave Edmunds, a pre-Dallas Larry Hagman as MacLaine’s seedy American manager, and a standout performance by Adam Faith as the band’s manipulative road manager. Well-staged and engaging the timeline spans a period of years from the exhilarating story of a band on the rise to the downbeat tale of conflict and isolation as the inevitable pressures of success take their toll. Although the rise-and-fall story may seem a tad predictable, the setting and performances provide a compelling watch, and there’s an interesting, and bold, plot twist to accelerate MacLaine’s downward spiral.

Band in Stardust

16mm print courtesy of Lost Reels.