Background Details on Tommy
So before we start breaking down the scenes and studying the masterpiece that is Tommy here are a few details and observations:
*Pete Townshend spent countless hours and time perfecting the film's soundtrack and working on the new songs. As far as I know he received no extra money from the film producers for doing this yet worked tirelessly for the better part of nine months. Such was the era. Had this been today, he'd have walked away with at least 500k for all the extra hard work, perhaps much more given Tommy's unprecedented stature. Something to consider.
*A new linking song, "Extra Extra", narrates Tommy's rise to fame and introduces the battle with the pinball champ. It is set to the tune of "Miracle Cure". Both are performed by Simon Townshend, Pete's younger brother. We will study the changes, additions and differences in the soundtarck as opposed to the album in the upcoming days.
*The film version of Tommy differs in numerous ways from the original 1969 album. The primary change is the period, which is moved forward to the post-World War II era, while the original album takes place just after World War I. As a result the song "1921" is renamed "1951" and the opening line "got a feelin' '21 is gonna be a good year" changes to "got a feelin' '51 is gonna be a good year". The historical alterations allowed Ken to use more contemporary images and settings.
*Much of Tommy was shot on locations around Portsmouth, including the scene near the end of the movie featuring the giant 'pinballs', which were in fact obsolete buoys found in a British Navy yard, which were simply sprayed silver. Several other segments, including part of the Bernie's Holiday Camp sequence and the concert scenes in the 'Sally Simpson' sequence were shot inside the Gaiety Theatre on South Parade Pier at Southsea in Hampshire.
*On June 11, 1974, the pier caught fire and was badly damaged while the production was filming there; according to Russell, the fire started during the filming of the scene of Ann-Margret and Oliver Reed dancing together during the "Bernie's Holiday Camp" sequence, and smoke from the fire can in fact be seen drifting in front of the camera in several shots; Russell also used a brief exterior shot of the building fully ablaze during the scenes of the destruction of Tommy's Holiday Camp by his disillusioned followers