Hollywood Flashback: Before 'Pirates,' Paul McCartney Starred in a "Dumb" Film Dud

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The former Beatle, who has a small part in the upcoming 'Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,' wrote, produced, scored and played himself in 1984's critically drubbed 'Give My Regards to Broad Street.'

It has been more than three decades since Paul McCartney, who has a small part in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (May 26), appeared in a feature film.

The last time was in 1984 when the former Beatle, then 42, wrote, produced, scored and played himself in Give My Regards to Broad Street. The musical drama, however, was not well-received. Phrases such as "congenial but dumb" and "a home movie on an amazing scale" were used almost everywhere — except in The Hollywood Reporter.

THR really liked Broad Street, describing it as "a fanciful musical feature that may not whip up teenage fancy but thoroughly entertains." It did concede the film "has the barest semblance of a plot," which is a vast understatement. In the movie, McCartney falls asleep in his chauffeured car, dreams the master tapes for his latest album have been stolen and encounters everyone from Ringo Starr to Tracey Ullman (making her feature debut at age 26) while trying to recover them. The film's action comes from a series of set-piece performances of Beatles and Wings songs that range from McCartney playing solo to Baz Luhrmann-style extravaganzas.

Two years before making it, McCartney told THR that he and John Lennon had tried a couple of times to put a play together, "but it always seemed to fizzle out after three pages." However, he said coming up with 20,000 words about spending nine days in jail for bringing a half-pound of marijuana into Japan in 1980 "showed me I could write." The film's plot came from learning the Sex Pistols once had lost a year's worth of tapes, and the gimmick "allows me to introduce music naturally into the structure of the film." Broad Street did receive a Golden Globe nomination for the song "No More Lonely Nights," but the $9 million film ($21 million today) grossed only $1.4 million domestically. 

This story first appeared in the May 24 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.