Charlie is my Darling
Peter Whitehead (UK 1965) Doc – The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones Charlie is my Darling Peter Whitehead (UK
1965;) and Mick Gochanour (USA 2012)
Viewed: New York Film Festival 29 9 2012 Ticket Price:
Complete with an on stage post – movie guest appearance by Andrew Loog Oldham (ALO), Charlie is my Darling (CMD), or as they like to call it, The Rolling Stones Charlie is my Darling, came across as a film with a split personality; a film that had been handed over to a foster carer, and didn’t know who its actual daddy and mummy were.
The explanations given by ALO after the film left me in no doubt that CMD is schizo film of the first order. It evidences all the symptoms of a subject experiencing the classic double bind situation: a film that simultaneously admits and denies two opposing types of propositions: that Peter Whitehead is the director and editor of the film, but at the same, he is not the editor and director of the film which blazons his name, like a symbolic shield at the head of the opening credits.
Schizo as it is, CMD is of course an eloquent statement of the convoluted tortured and contradictory claims that the corporate bodies ABKCO, have had resort to, in their anxiety to justify their manipulations and exploitations of the CMD material in question. In their practice of contradiction, they are like the Red Queen in Alice; and almost as funny.
Every medical condition has a case history and the history of CMD is the key to its schizo development. CMD was made in 1965 by Peter Whitehead (PW) and commissioned and produced by ALO. PW directed the film, shot the original footage on an Éclair, then edited it: his film. According to ALO speaking at the New York screening, he as producer never really meant the film to be seen. ALO suggested that at this time. the mid’60’s when other groups such as the Beetles were experimenting reaching out and extending their audience and income through movies, he ALO only wanted to see what the Stones would look like on film. ALO said he never wanted PW’s film to be released. It was made as a sort of group audition, for appraisal and their eyes only. ALO seemed to suggest that he never seriously considered releasing CMD.
I found this explanation, though it may be true, less than convincing. It occurred to me there might have been other reasons for shyness. Perhaps PW’s edit of the material had been problematic: in one way or the other.
In fact the original CMD had a screening at Berlin Film Festival, and caused a stir. It then seems to have had some limited form of exhibition. I say this because on-line there are people who say they have seen it, but this remains a little uncertain to me.
From his original footage, PW cut a film that I think was originally about an hour, a little less perhaps. This cut and all the outtakes were then withdrawn in an act resembling a sort of distributive coitus interruptus. Perhaps the film and all the rushes were sold on with constraining contractual clauses and eventually in the mid nineties, 30 years after the original shoot and edit, they re=appear in the ownership of Abkco, a large media conglomerate.
Contacted by Richard Pena in 1995 who wanted to screen CMD at that years NYFF, Abkco say they have acquired the film and the rights and are at work restoring the material.
Cut to 17 years later, 2012, a film called The Rolling Stones Charlie is my Darling turns up on the NY festival programme. A film by Peter Whitehead, directed shot and edited by Peter Whitehead; but also crediting a new role call of creative and technical personelle: director – Mick Gochanour; Editor – Nathan Punwar; Producor – Robert Klein! A schizo films with two sets of everything. A film that took 17 years to sort out before this potentially desirable and profitable piece of merchandise could be released.
After the screening I asked the director who was present but not on stage with ALO what percentage of PW’s original cut was now in the film we had just seen and which seemed to be titled: The Rolling Stones Charlie is my Darling. His reply was that it was about 60% recut. Which is fair enough. But is this any longer Peter Whitehead’s film? it is not his cut. And is the claim on the publicity postcard I have in front of me, that the film is directed photographed and edited by PW in any sense meaningful?
Abkco are desperate for some reason (one wonders what this reason might be – contracts?) for Peter Whitehead’s name to stand emblazoned over and across the film like an endorsement – not that there are many left today except a few old film buffs who even know his name let alone his fame as a film maker.
What I saw was a schizo film from one of the homes of schizo capitalism, the entertainment industry.
The film, the one with director Mick Gochanour bears the unmistakable intensity and presence of all the camera work by Peter Whitehead, and I was glad to have seen it for this reason. It lacks the originality and dynamic that PW brought to fashioning and editing his material . The edit on view is OK but is pretty standard treatment. So the original footage is extraordinary and apparently if you buy the whole dvd package the original cut is included in the deal, though at this point I don’t know if you would get all the original cut or whether some scenes or lines, might have got the snip. Adrin Neatrour email@example.com