Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978)
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is an American Musical Comedy film directed by Michael Schultz, produced by Robert Stigwood, and loosely based on the Beatles album of the same name. It stars the Bee Gees with Peter Frampton alongside an all-star cast of popular 70s artists. It was released by Universal Pictures on July 21, 1978.
In the year 1918 in the midst of World War I and armed with their magical instruments, Sgt. Pepper and his Lonely Hearts Club Band of Heartland, USA single-handedly halt the war with their music, and return to America as heroes. They enjoy continued success through the decades until the band leader, Sgt. Pepper, passes away in the midst of a weather vane inauguration in 1958. A few years later, his grandson Billy Shears (Peter Frampton) assembles a new incarnation of the band (The Bee Gees), and leave for California after being discovered by RSO Records. However, while they're away, the mean Mr. Mustard (Frankie Howerd) enlisted by the mysterious Future Villain Band (Aerosmith), steals away the instruments and converts the humble town of Heartland into a den of sin and degeneracy. It's up to the band to recover the instruments and save their town.
Why It's Not a Splendid Time
- This was made due to the success of the Beatles album of the same name in a rush attempt to string a bunch of unrelated Beatles songs together to form a cohesive narrative and fails miserably.
- It tries to present itself as some kind of rock opera by having all of the dialogue (sans the narration) presented in song. However for the reason presented above, it doesn't work.
- The film's runtime is padded with scenes of absolutely nothing happening, making for a very boring watch.
- The absolutely nonsensical plot about some band that stopped World War I with music and magical instruments and an evil rock band (yes, really.)
- The acting, or lack thereof as 90% of it rely on singing unlike other musical films.
- Many of the covers are absolutely terrible (like in one scene where the filmmakers ruin "She's Leaving Home" by having two fembots singing it. Really.)
- The fact that the filmmakers expect you to take this film seriously (they actually expected this film to be the next Gone With the Wind) but with a nonsense plot, cheesy musical numbers, and terrible acting, this film is impossible to take seriously.
- The pacing and tone is inconsistent if it was either dark or light-hearted.
- The deus ex machina ending where Billy Preston literally appears out of nowhere in a Sgt. Pepper weathervane and solves all of the film's conflict by magic-ing everything back to normal, which is utter nonsense.
- Some of the covers are actually really good like Earth, Wind, and Fire's cover of "Got to Get You into My Life" or Aerosmith's cover of "Come Together". They're so good that they've even become classic rock radio staples.
- Frankie Howard's performance as Mr. Mustard and Steve Martin's performance as Dr. Maxwell Edison are so over the top, they're absolutely hilarious to watch.
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band received very negative reviews from critics, audiences and fans of the band. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 12% score based on 26 reviews with an average rating of 3.04/10. The site's critical consensus reads "I thought you might like to know that the Beatles (aka the act you've known for all these years) are ill-served by this kitschy, aggressively whimsical fantasy film that's most certainly not a thrill.".
- Before the film was made, it was a live Broadway show in 1974 of the album produced by The Robert Stigwood Organization, who purchased rights for the 29 songs of the Beatles. As a result, Robert Stigwood brought the songs to Henry Edwards to write the film adaptation's script, which he hadn't written it and impressed Stigwood, who sought to be a "big" musical film.
- The Bee Gees actually had their manager try to get them out of being in the film, but were unsuccessful.
- Out of all four members of the Beatles, only Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr watched the film, and they hated it. John Lennon and George Harrison refused to watch the final cut.
- Marvel was supposed to release a comic book adaptation of this film for Marvel Super Special issue 7, but it was dropped and was never released in the United States.