The Rolling Stones, ‘Charlie Is My Darling – Ireland 1965′ – DVD Review
In 1965, the Rolling Stones’ manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, asked filmmaker Peter Whitehead to accompany the group on a two-day trip tour of Ireland following the massive success of ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.’
Whitehead shot the band onstage, backstage and outside of the shows. The result, ‘Charlie Is My Darling,’ is one of rock’s most legendary lost movies, with a complicated history — essentially, it never was released, and the small amount of footage that has surfaced over the years didn’t tell the whole story.
The new super-deluxe box set, ‘The Rolling Stones Charlie Is My Darling – Ireland 1965,’ marks the first official release of the fabled tour documentary, complete with a sterling stereo mix and a Blu-ray version of the film. Over the years, the movie has been shown in various forms, most notably a 35-minute version put together by Whitehead and a 50-minute one assembled by Oldham. This new set features, for the first time, a 65-minute cut of the film.
And for the most part, it’s a revealing and exciting portrait of a band on the verge of stardom. The interview sequences – Mick Jagger does most of the talking, Keith Richards does very little – show a group of young artists, initially influenced by American blues music, developing their own voices. Brian Jones, especially, is dismissive of their “pop” success, effortlessly playing the conflicted artist role for the camera.
Once they’re onstage, the Stones crackle with energy. The live footage is taken from a September concert in Dublin, where they tear through ‘The Last Time,’ ‘Time Is on My Side’ and ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,’ which is performed before an audience for the first time here. The offstage hustling and bustling, mostly talking about their uncertain futures and getting from one gig to the next, is a bit more tedious.
The very best scenes capture the cacophony onstage and the inspiration off: During a particularly ferocious version of ‘I’m Alright,’ fans begin rushing the stage, grabbing at various Stones, who duck for cover as their bodies and instruments twist in different directions. And a casual scene backstage features Richards, armed with an acoustic guitar, and Jagger working out ‘Sitting on a Fence’ and ‘Tell Me,’ before they take abandoned stabs at the Beatles’ ‘I’ve Just Seen a Face’ and ‘Eight Days a Week.’ (Later, they goof on Elvis Presley.) It’s enlightening moments like these that make ‘Charlie Is My Darling’ a rock ‘n’ roll documentary on par with Bob Dylan’s ‘Don’t Look Back’ at times.
The lavish set includes Blu-ray and DVD versions of the movie (all three cuts), a soundtrack CD, LP and CD versions of unreleased live performances from 1965, plus a handful of other collectibles. They all help to bolster the general skimpiness of the main movie, which barely cracks feature length. Still, the brief, frenzied footage offers an early, insider peek into the Stones, a good band closing in on greatness here.