Rolling Stones Doc Captures Young Band on Its Way to Superstardom
A new/old documentary about The Rolling Stones’ 1965 visit to Ireland offers a fascinating verité look at the young band but also doubles as a window to the seeds of the counterculture, before hippiedom went (semi)mainstream.
The Rolling Stones: Charlie Is My Darling — Ireland 1965, which debuts Nov. 6 on DVD and Blu-ray, follows the quintet during a two-day jaunt through the Emerald Isle as the band rides the mammoth success of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” The camera is omnipresent as Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts play shows, give interviews, sign autographs for the likes of cops and grandmas, laze about and travel by plane, train and automobile. The doc also includes the band’s first professionally shot concert performances.
The footage itself has leaked out in various forms over the years, but this is the first time it has been presented in its full-length form. The restored and resequenced Charlie Is My Darling had its world premiere Sept. 29 at the New York Film Festival to coincide with the band’s – and NYFF’s – 50th anniversary.
The film’s concert scenes are wild – from the performances to the crowd reactions – but some of the interviews offer poignant snippets of truth from young men who are on the cusp of mega-stardom but remain unsure about the band’s staying power. Soft-spoken and articulate, Jones offers a series of nuggets including: “I’ve never thought very far ahead at all. I’ve always been a little apprehensive about the future.” Jagger, meanwhile, muses on pop music, fans (and fanatics), success and his onstage alter ego and offstage ego. When asked about the secret of the band's success, Jagger says, "Well, there isn't any secret." He then turns to the camera and adds, "It's all very obvious."
During much of the film, fans’ screams are in the background much like buzzing would be in a documentary about bees.
Two scenes in the narration-free 65-minute pic stand out. The first is a performance that turns into a stage-invasion free-for-all during which the band members are forced to flee the building on the run during their third song. Later, an impromptu songwriting session sees Jagger and Richard tinkering with the lyrics and melody of “Sittin’ on a Fence” before the gathering devolves into singing -- or, more accurately, skewering -- a couple of Beatles songs. All the while, Watts sits by with his typical nonplussed/bored/disgusted face.
The home video bow of the film, directed by Peter Whitehead (1965) and Mick Gochanour (2012), is part of a mammoth Stones presence in the coming weeks. The band is prepping for concerts in London and Newark, N.J.; HBO will premiere the career-spanning feature documentary Crossfire Hurricane on Nov. 15; and the hefty greatest-hits package GRRR! arrives Nov. 13 in North America, a day after its release in the rest of the world.
Check out the trailer for Charlie Is My Darling below.