Eat The Document
John appears for less than a minute in Eat the Document, the film of Bob Dylan's European tour of April/May 1966 which was produced by D.A.Pennebaker. John's sequence was filmed on Friday 27th May 1966 in a limousine that was driving Dylan and Lennon from John's home in Weybridge to the Mayfair hotel in London. The raw footage, lasting for several minutes, shows them struggling to engage in coherent conversation "Bob forgot his lines again. Cut! Take that again, please. Sorry about that Bob, he looks so natural, but really, he's shaking I believe. Right, start again.....Well I hate to say this about Barry (Barry McGuire - who'd recently had a US chart topper with the risible protest song "Eve of destruction" ), Bob - Bobby, but I don't know him at all. But I did have a letter from his manager, saying he was very very close to you, being the sort of, apparent, bosom of the current folk-a-rock-a-boom, you know, at the moment...". Dylan ends the scene unwell and needing to vomit. The movie was premiered in New York on 8th February 1967 but this 54-minute version was not on general release until 1972.
How I Won The War
In 1966, following his work with the Beatles on A Hard Day's Night and Help!, director Richard Lester began to work on an anti-war satire called How I Won The War, based on Patrick Ryan's novel. Charles Wood wrote the screenplay which concerned the adventures of a group of young soldiers of the Third Troop of the Fourth Musketeers during World War II. Lester offered the part of Private Gripweed to John and he accepted.
The Musketeers are involved in the fighting in North Africa, Dunkirk, Dieppe and Arnhem and are led by an incompetent officer Lieutenant Ernest Goodbody, played by Michael Crawford. The other Musketeers included Sergeant Transom (Lee Montague), Corporal Dooley (Ewan Hooper), Private Drogue (James Cossins), Private Clapper (Roy Kinnear, who also appeared in Help!) and Private Juniper (Ronald Lacey). They are engaged in numerous pointless missions during the hostilities; The objective of one venture behind enemy lines is merely to set up a cricket pitch (which never gets used), and one of their few successful sorties results in a British plane being shot down. When all his men have been killed, Goodbody sets off on his final objective, to secure a bridge, and ends up buying it from the German officer commanding the position. During the course of the film, the Musketeers are killed off one by one; Gripweed dies a particularly gory death when he is blown to smithereens by a shell fired from a German tank.
John had filmed his sequences in Celle, West Germany between Tuesday 6th - Wednesday 14th September 1966 and in Carboneras, Spain between Monday 19th September and Sunday 6th November 1966, with post production audio dubbing carried out in Twickenham, England from February 11th to March 3rd 1967. Commenting on why he selected John for the role, Lester said: "I have a very high regard for the Beatles. It just happens that we thought this part was something that John would enjoy doing, and that he could do well. I consider Lennon an extraordinarily Intelligent man. I don't mean that lightly. I've known perhaps two or three people in a lifetime who could compare with him in intelligence. Furthermore, he's a born entertainer. All this highly qualifies him as an actor. And if he wishes to act, of course, he's bound to get better. He could be a very fine actor if he's willing to go ahead. It's a question of practice and willingness.". But the film proved to be John's final foray into the world of serious acting.
How I Won The War was premiered at the London Pavilion on 18th October 1967, but although it received moderately encouraging reviews, British distributors felt that it would not appeal to mass audiences and it was not given a proper circuit release. This must have disappointed Lester in particular who was especially committed to the movie. He commented: "I believe I have made a genuinely pacifist film. It is an anti-war film, of course, but it is also a film against war films. I wanted to show war without kicks, the opposite of the conventional tank opera. There is no single statement in it that I do not believe to be to the right purpose. I am totally responsible and, if it goes wrong, there is only me to blame, But if I fell under a bus tomorrow, this is the film I'd want to be judged by".
Yoko Ono (1965-67)
Yoko had begun making minimalist films in New York as a member of a group of conceptual artists called Fluxus. Number One was a five-minute short which featured a slow-motion sequence of a match being struck.
Yoko exhibited Number One and what was to be the first version of Film No.4 at the Fluxus film festival in 1965, Film No.4 featured close-up studies of a dozen bare bottoms in motion as they walked on a treadmill.
Around the time the Beatles filmed Help!, Yoko was given a part in this sleazy adults-only S+M drug movie by Roberta and Michael Findlay (SNUFF). Michael was the photographer and editor, Roberta acted and was responsible for the lighting. Satan's bed was really an updated version of an earlier unfinished feature called Judas City by "Tamijian" with the new footage and characters edited in. Interwoven with the Judas City scenes is the sick tale of Snake, Dip and Angel, addicts in black clothes (not dissimilar to Andy Warhol's Exploding Plastic Inevitable show crowd), they roam around tying up women and raping them. Yoko (in a kimono) shows up in New York to marry Paulie, who wants out of the drug business, she can't speak English and he is preoccupied, so she's taken to a filthy cheap hotel room. A gangster (in the concrete business) rapes her on the floor (off screen), he then takes her to his penthouse and rapes her again. Finally a Long Island housewife with a gun escapes from the doped up trio and footage of Yoko escaping is intercut.
1967 was the year in which Yoko Ono first hit the headlines in Britain with her re-make of Film No.4, more commonly known as "Bottoms", which was produced by her then husband Tony Cox. Yoko had asked 364 people associated with the swinging London scene to expose their backsides for the camera.
John and Yoko's
John and Yoko's film partnership began as spring became summer in 1968, shooting two films in a single afternoon in the garden of John's house 'Kenwood' in Weybridge.
The first film opens with a series of white caption cards with black lettering; "FILM NO.5 by YOKO ONO", "STARRING JOHN LENNON", "Camera: WILLIAM WAREING Sound: JOHN LENNON Light: GARDEN", "MUSIC by JOHN LENNON Instruction: bring your own instrument.", "PRODUCED by APPLE FILMS". What follows is a super slow motion 52 minute portrait of John's face in varying states of expression. A special high-speed camera had been used to film John sticking out his tongue, wiggling his eyebrows and breaking out into fleeting smiles as it captured 20,000 frames per minute, the soundtrack was provided by the background noise in Weybridge. Yoko had initially considered making Number 5 four hours long, but this was considered impractical. Even at just under 1 hour's length, it was considered overlong by most members of the audience at the film's screening at the 1968 Chicago Film Festival and after thirty minutes, more than half the audience had left the cinema. Film no.5 has since become better known as Smile.
The second John & Yoko collaboration again opens with a series of caption cards spelling out "TWO VIRGINS by JOHN LENNON and YOKO ONO", "STARRING JOHN LENNON and YOKO ONO", "CAMERA: WILLIAM WAREING", "MUSIC by JOHN LENNON and YOKO ONO" and finally "PRODUCED by APPLE FILMS". Super slow-motion was again employed, this time to reveal John and Yoko's faces fusing and then separating before the action switches to the couple kissing and embracing. John & Yoko's album of the same name provided the soundtrack. Some other footage of John walking around a swimming pool and playing guitar also appears to have been shot on the same day.
You Are Here
You are here was John's first full art exhibition that opened on the 1st July 1968 at the Robert Fraser Gallery in London. John marked the opening with the release of 365 helium filled balloons. Various activities on this day and the preparation the day before were captured on film, though in what form (if any) the footage was shown in 1968 is not known.
In November 1968 work began on one of one of John & Yoko's most ambitious film ventures, a 75-minute mini-feature called Rape. It starred Eva Majlata, a 21 year old Hungarian actress who couldn't speak English. She cannot escape the prying attentions of the camera which follows her around the streets of London, through a park, allowing her no privacy and almost causing her to walk into the path of a truck. She attempts to escape in a taxi, but is still followed. She is eventually cornered in an apartment from which she apparently cannot escape and her tearful pleas to the camera remain ignored. Rape was shot when John and Yoko were both at Great Charlotte Street Hospital following Yoko's miscarriage. The cameraman was Nick Knowland, who worked on most of John and Yoko's productions.
The film received its world premiere on Austrian Television on 31st March 1969. That year it was also shown at the Montreux Television Festival and the Mannheim Film Festival. A day after the Austrian TV broadcast John and Yoko held a press conference in Vienna. John commented: "We are showing how all of us are exposed and under pressure in our contemporary world. This isn't just about the Beatles. What is happening to this girl on the screen is happening in Biafra, Vietnam, everywhere." The theme of the relentless, clinical camera lens, 'raping' the privacy of individuals or groups for the entertainment of the viewing public intrigued critic Willie Frischauer, who wrote in the Evening Standard; "This film does for the age of television what Franz Kafka's The Trial did for the age of totalitarianism."
The Rolling Stones Rock And Roll Circus
Taped to completion on the night of Wednesday/Thursday 11/12th December 1968, The Rolling Stones 50 minute colour special included guest performances by Jethro Tull, The Who, Marianne Faithfull, Taj Mahal and John & Yoko backed by Eric Clapton (Lead guitarist with the recently disbanded Cream), Keith Richards (The Rolling Stones Lead guitarist switching to Bass), Mitch Mitchell (The Jimi Hendrix Experience drummer) and a Violinist - Ivry Gitlist. John sang "Yer Blues" , Yoko then did "Her Blues". John could also be seen introducing The Rolling Stones section, chatting with Mick Jagger and grooving with the audience.
Despite the enthusiasm from everyone who saw it, The Rolling Stones were dissatisfied with the standard of their own performance, they were also unable to resolve a dispute as to how much the band would receive in payment and it was decided not to release the film.
Yoko And Me
This short colour offering was shot around the 15th December 1968, it appears to have been filmed at 'Kenwood'* which had just been put up for sale. Scenes include Yoko talking about her art whilst John is sat playing acoustic guitar, and out in the garden John & Yoko are seen singing "Everybody had a hard year" with the cameraman walking towards them and John then pointing directly into the lens; "Surprise, Surprise"
*The outdoor scene may have actually been shot at Ringo's former home 'Sunny Heights' in Weybridge where John and Yoko were temporarily living at the time.
Diaries, Notes And Sketches
During 1969, John appeared in a documentary film, Diaries, Notes and Sketches, by fellow experimental film maker Jonas Mekas. The movie was initially several hours long but later divided into several parts. In the film, the Lithuanian born Mekas intercut interviews with a number of celebrities with a range of unusual images. The celebrities involved, apart from John, were Nico, the Velvet Underground, the Fugs, Allen Ginsberg and Andy Warhol.
The Ballad Of John And Yoko
In May 1969 John's first 'A' side single release in almost two years spawned this promotional film which consisted of various shots of rather bored looking Beatles at the January 1969 Twickenham film studio rehearsals, interwoven with the much happier looking subjects of the song filmed at various locations in March/April. The single and promotional film were released during the second bed-in event with many US Radio and TV stations banning it, deeming the use of the word 'Christ' to be blasphemous.
Mr. & Mrs. Lennon's Honeymoon
Unable to marry in Paris, John and Yoko had eventually been wed in Gibralter on the 20th March 1969, they returned to Paris and, on the 24th, had lunch with the Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali. The following day the Lennons began their first 7 day bed-in protest for peace in Room 902 of the Amsterdam Hilton returning to London on April 1st. The Amsterdam bed-in was filmed in colour and the 40 minute result (pretty much a visual version of the Amsterdam track on the Wedding Album) was directed by Peter Goessens but little has been seen of it since, perhaps this is because the 2nd bed-in in Montreal yielded better results.....
The Bed In
John and Yoko's second and final week long bed-in for peace took place in Montreal, Canada from Monday 26th May 1969. This time the event was filmed by John & Yoko's own film crew for a fascinating full-length feature. The Lennons had intended to bring their peace campaign to the USA but President Richard Nixon's immigration officials refused John's request for an entry visa prompting John to declare "It's easier to get into Russia than the US". With the Bahamas considered too hot to stay in bed for such length, Montreal was chosen instead for it was close enough to the United States border to reach the required targets of the campaign.
In the weeks preceding the event, Harvard students had gone on strike against university complicity in the Vietnam war and in Berkeley, people challenged private property rights by creating a communal park in a vacant lot owned by the university of California - During the bed-in the university officials called the police to clear and destroy the park, a force of almost 800 police moved in on 6,000 demonstrators, killing one, blinding another and injuring over a hundred. John was filmed talking to the local radio station via phone giving his support to the demonstrators and meeting various 'radicals' to discuss their ideas and thoughts on the promotion of peace to the masses who still put their trust in the violent establishment. Footage also included the live recording of Give peace a chance, this segment was released as a promotional film for the July 1969 single.
The movie was eventually completed in February 1970 with a now short haired John and Yoko appearing in the closing credits, yet tragically the film was never publicly shown until it was released on home-video (in edited form) twenty years later.
A Canadian TV special filmed during the event was broadcast in 1969 as part of the documentary series The way it is.
John and Yoko were still involved with their own "home movies" and produced Self Portrait which was a slow-motion sequence of John's penis in a semi erect state. The film was 42 minutes long and was premiered at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London in September 1969. Two years later John recalled the film on a BBC television interview with Michael Parkinson ".....there's also been a film made of your penis, isn't there John?", "That was a joke really. I made a film called 'Self portrait', you know, and at that time I was a bit of a prick!". Yoko had said "The critics wouldn't touch it"
On 13th September 1969 D.A Pennebaker filmed the Toronto Rock 'N' Roll Revival Festival and his 140-minute film was released 12 months later in 1970. John and Yoko appeared with Eric Clapton, Klaus Voorman and Alan White as the Plastic Ono Band for their debut live performance. After a few screenings, business entanglements got in the way and the film had to be re-edited and reissued (as Keep On Rockin') with the Plastic Ono Band scenes excised and replaced with some footage of Jimi Hendrix (this was from a different gig, he did not play at the Rock 'n' Roll Revival gig). For many years it was rumoured that the John and Yoko footage had been removed because of negative reaction to Yoko's numbers, but this was not the case.
Read Mal Evans account of the show here
Underground film-maker Jonas Mekas had produced a montage of rapid paced film snippets that he had shot during the Montreal Bed-in which he then sent to John and Yoko instructing them to watch whilst playing "Give peace a chance". They decided to use this as the basis for a promotional film for John's October 1969 single "Cold Turkey", dropping in scenes (in negative form) from the September 1969 Toronto performance.
Apotheosis / Apotheosis 2
The first version of Apotheosis, filmed in September 1969 including footage filmed from a helicopter, had proven unsatisfactory and so a re-make was attempted on Friday 5th December 1969. With the BBCtv World of John & Yoko documentary crew in tow, the Lennons were driven through the snow covered countryside to Lavenham in Suffolk where, hunched together and peeking out from under long black capes, they looked on as a hot air balloon was inflated and launched from the Market square. On board was their ever reliable film cameraman Nick Knowland to capture the views.
Lyceum Ballroom Concert
Some mute film of John & Yoko performing Cold Turkey and Don't Worry Kyoko with a Plastic Ono Band line-up (including George Harrison) at the Lyceum Ballroom in London on 15th December 1969 was captured for a British Movietone cinema newsreel.
An American colour film directed by Ernest Pintoff which would not see release until 1971. John and Yoko were filmed discussing bed-ins for peace in December 1969. Described as a "multi-media mosaic" this 76 minute movie contained glimpses of scores of personalities ranging from the famous (Jimi Hendrix, Malcom X, Ninan Simone, Richard Pryor etc.) to the less well known such as Sister Feonna the stripping nun!
On Side One of John & Yoko's "Live Jam" album (recorded on 15th December 1969) Yoko can be heard to shout "Britain, you killed Hanratty you murderer!", she then chants Hanratty's name throughout the opening bars of Don't Worry Kyoko. Back in 1962, James Hanratty was convicted and sentenced to death for the notorious A6 road murder of Michael Gregsten and the rape of his lover Valerie Storie who was also shot and left for dead (she survived but was paralysed from the neck down). Hanratty was one of the last British citizens to be executed by the state before the death penalty in Britain was suspended in 1965. As the decade progressed, the view that Hanratty had in fact been the victim of a gross miscarriage of justice began to gather momentum, another man was even seen to confess to the murder on British Television in 1967. Together with Hanratty's parents, John and Yoko discussed the idea of making a film to back the campaign for an enquiry and this was announced at an Apple press conference on December 10th 1969. The one and only public screening of the 40-minute colour result was eventually shown in the crypt of St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church, London on 17th February 1972.
29 years later DNA evidence from the exhumed body of Hanratty was said to prove that he DID commit the murder, although it has been argued that the retained evidence may have been cross contaminated in storage.
John & Kyoko Bathroom Film
According to Apple Executive Director Peter Brown, the Lennon's made a film of Yoko's 7 year old daughter Kyoko and John bathing nude together in the same tub, Kyoko's father Tony Cox was reportedly furious when he found out about it and this was the reason he vowed never to let John and Yoko get near his daughter again. However, the truth appears to be that it was actually Cox who captured the scene via one of the many video cameras he had set up around his farmhouse in Denmark and he later made use of the footage during a custody hearing in December 1971.
3 Days In The Life
Tony Cox shot over 9 hours worth of black and white videotape depicting a shorn haired John and Yoko at work and at play over a three day period during early February 1970. Footage includes a meeting with the leader of the British Black Power movement, Michael X, a tour of London with John as the guide and Lennon perched on the end of a bed with guitar performing an early version of what would, three years later, become the song “Mind games”.
Click the image for further screen grabs and information.
Up Your Legs
Whilst in New York at the beginning of December 1970, keen to include some new material in a festival of their films that Jonas Mekas had arranged for the Elgin Theatre, John and Yoko made two films - Up Your Legs and Fly.
Shot over two days, Up your legs was 80 minutes long and featured over 300 pairs of legs, photographed from the toes up to the top of the thighs. "We asked everybody to donate their legs for peace" said Yoko, and a host of celebrities obliged, including George Segal, Larry Rivers and D.A Pennebaker. The film ends with the Lennons showing their bare behinds.
Fly was 19 minutes in length and, as with Up your legs, took two days to film in a New York attic. Although only one person was filmed, in contrast to the 331 gathered for the Legs film, Fly was a more complicated project. John and Yoko asked New York actress Virginia Lust to lie down naked whilst they filmed a fly exploring her body. Approximately 200 flies were used and each had to be stunned with a special gas. The film showed a fly traversing the girl's body from her toes to her head, exploring every part. It was claimed that Virginia Lust also had to be sedated during the filming.
Further filming of the Lennon's also took place during this period in the Bowery, rare footage includes John playing guitar.
Live At The Fillmore East With Frank Zappa
A single colour 16mm film camera captured the Lennon's guest appearance at Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention's gig at the Fillmore in New York on Sunday 6th June 1971. An audio recording found its' way onto the 1972 Some time in New York City album.
Your Show (aka Working Class Hero)
There were, of course, plans for films that were never made or left uncompleted. During early summer 1971, a great deal of film was shot for a proposed movie called Your Show or Working Class Hero, over 35 hours worth of colour film captured the recording of the LP Imagine. John had intended the film to be edited into a Television special for screening in America, but Allen Klein dissuaded him, suggesting he needed something more polished.
Perhaps John and Yoko's best known film production was their 70 minute colour film Imagine. The couple used over 40,000 feet of film in making this visual promotion for their Autumn 1971 released albums Imagine and Fly. They were filmed together in various scenes, mainly set around Tittenhurst Park in Ascot, England and mostly shot there on; Wednesday 21st July 1971 (The boat to the island scene and the surreal version of Chess) , Thursday 22nd July (Scenes in the early morning mist, singing 'Imagine' and the album artwork photo shoot) and Friday 23rd July (Going to the toilet, in the bath together). Other footage included the early summer studio activity and a July 6th party shot by Jonas Mekas at Allen Klein's home in New York where he, John & Yoko and various stars including Jazz trumpet genius Miles Davis, celebrated the conclusion of the Imagine album recording sessions. On July 15th the Lennons were filmed signing copies of Yoko's recently re-published book of verse Grapefruit. Further filming took place on the August 11th demo for OZ magazine, and there were various other scenes shot in England and New York during that summer. The movie was eventually premiered on American television on 23rd December 1972 by which time both albums had been available for over a year.
The running order for the original film was Imagine (this sequence shows John and Yoko walking in the mist to their front door, John is then seen playing the song on his white piano in a white room as Yoko opens the blinds), Crippled Inside (John sat posing for a photographer in the garden plus 6th July 1971 party footage), Jealous Guy (Helicopter views of John & Yoko being picked up by a car outside their home which then drives them to the lake where they get into a small boat, John then rows them to an island in the middle of the lake on which there is a small summer house), Don't Count The Waves (now inside the summer house John and Yoko are playing an interesting variation of chess in which all the pieces and squares are white, Yoko reveals her stockinged right leg and begins to place some of the pieces down her cleavage, John responds by eating his pieces), It's So Hard (a man walking down a high street in a black bag / John in the bathroom polishing a glass box / Yoko in the corridor listening at the door), Mrs. Lennon (various shots of Yoko including a slow motion film of her crying / Yoko whispering in John's ear / John and Yoko sat on a bench by the sea / trying to find oneanother in the fog / writing in the sand), I Don't Wanna Be A Soldier Mama (John and Yoko looking around New York and tuning in to the pulse of the city through stethoscopes / Yoko whispering to John who then passes the message on to a sleeping man on a park bench / waltzing together past onlookers / footage of war and demonstration riots / Yoko pretending to be a 'streetwalker' and John a client), St Regis Hotel sequence (Yoko walks arm in arm to look out of a hotel window with various different people, including Fred Astaire and George Harrison, accompanied by music that apparently reflects the personality of the participant), Mind Train (this was cut from the video release), Give Me Some Truth (a short burst of Power to the People precedes this segment which shows John and Yoko on a protest march / signing copies of Yoko's book / John recording the vocal track), Midsummer New York (cut from the video release, John and Yoko are seen sat by some large revolving orange circles), Oh My Love (on holiday in Japan), How Do You Sleep? (blindfolded John playing pool joined by Yoko in hot pants / animated bat flying over Tittenhurst), How? (returning from the island on the boat as a young woman climbs into the house and deposits a dropper pipette full of liquid into what looks like a sponge or cake), Oh Yoko! (John pruning Yoko / photo shoot / various shots of Yoko), John And Yoko (a new version of the Wedding Album track, John and Yoko are seen running towards eachother on the beach, then credits as they walk to the sea).
WATCH THE FULL MOVIE HERE
Two one-minute films that were added to the bill at the 1971 Chicago Film Festival. They were called "Freedom Films"; the first, shot in 1970, shows Yoko taking off her bra and throwing it away with a two note soundtrack provided by John on electric keyboards, the other featured the word "Freedom", which John had scratched directly on to a piece of film.
Erection, unlike Self Portrait, has nothing to do with John's phallus. It is a 19-minute film showing the gradual construction of the International Hotel at 147 Cromwell Road in London. A stills camera had been placed in a set position and shots were taken over a period of eighteen months. When the film is shown, the building seems to arise before the viewers' eyes.
Clock was a one-hour study of a clock face shot in the lobby of the St Regis Hotel in September 1971. The Lennon's were staying there having just left England for the final time. The soundtrack, by John, included September 10th recorded acoustic versions of various Rock and Roll standards.
A film of John's 31st birthday party which shows him jamming along with guests including George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Phil Spector and Allen Ginsberg.
This Is Not Here
Yoko staged an art show at the Everson Museum, Syracuse, New York that ran from October 9th-27th 1971, it was a ten year retrospective of her work entitled This is not here. Takahiko Iimura produced an 18 minute film of the event. Visitors on the opening day included Ringo Starr, Allen Klein, Dick Cavett, Bob Dylan, John Cage, Dennis Hopper, Spike Milligan, Andy Warhol, Jack Nicholson and Frank Zappa.
The Museum Of Modern Art Show
A 7 minute film of Yoko's non-existent fly exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Yoko advertised the happening in the Village Voice and produced a catalogue for which Iain MacMillan photographed flies inside a tent which were then superimposed onto various New York scenes and landmarks. The film is comprised of interviews with people leaving the museum who are asked what they thought of the "show". Staff who worked at the museum apparently knew nothing about it and were not amused. See this link for more information.
Happy Christmas (War Is Over)
A single film camera captured various Record plant studio activities on October 31st 1971, a day that saw the resulting Happy Xmas single picture sleeve photo being taken and the overdubbing of the Harlem community choir. I don't believe this film has been seen since December 1972.
The Irish Tapes
On Friday 12th November 1971 John and Yoko recorded several demo's of the new composition "Luck of the Irish" at their Bank Street apartment. A 17 minute monochrome videotape recording was made by John Reilly which included some discussion as well as performances of the song. Reilly together with Stefan Moore was producing a film with a pro-IRA slant and was supported financially by John and Yoko. It should be added that this was before the IRA began their bombing campaign in mainland Britain.
Ten For Two
Ten For Two was a 78 minute 16mm film of the "John Sinclair Freedom Rally" which took place at the Crisler Arena in the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor on Friday 10th December 1971 (John and Yoko actually appeared in the early hours of the 11th). The concert was in aid of the founder of the White Panther movement who had been jailed for ten years for possession of just two marijuana joints.
John and Yoko, backed by Jerry Rubin, David Peel and the Lower East Side, performed an acoustic set consisting of just four songs: Attica state, The Luck Of The Irish, Sisters O Sisters and John Sinclair (John played dobro on the final track). Sinclair was released 3 days after the concert.
The event was televised locally at the time and the 'Joko' produced film, directed by Steve Gebhart and including contributions from Bobby Seale, Allen Ginsburg, Jerry Rubin and John Dellinger, was only shown in Ann Arbor (a full year later) to avoid problems with John's deportation order.
Apollo, Harlem Gig
On Friday December 17th 1971, one week after the Ann Arbor appearance, John and Yoko backed by Jerry Rubin, Chris Osborne and Eddie Mottau performed at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, New York in a benefit gig for the families of the victims of the riot at New York's Attica State Prison. A 16mm colour film captured acoustic versions of Imagine, Attica State and Yoko's Sisters O Sisters.
The One To One Concert
The One to One concerts took place at Madison Square Garden in New York on 30th August 1972. The event was in aid of a local charity, the Willowbrook Handicapped Children's Home. John and Yoko (backed by Elephant's Memory) were the main attraction at both shows (afternoon and evening), they performed New York City, It's So Hard, Move On Fast, Woman Is The Nigger Of The World, Sisters, O Sisters, Well Well Well, Born In A Prison, Instant Karma!, Mother, We're All Water, Come Together, Imagine, Open Your Box, Cold Turkey, Don't Worry Kyoko and Hound Dog. The evening performance dropped Don't Worry Kyoko but added Give Peace A Chance as an encore in which they were joined on stage by the other artists on the bill (Sha Na Na, Stevie Wonder and Roberta Flack).
The film, The One To One Concert, utilized performances from the evening concert (six of John's numbers, one of Yoko's and the encore - tracks from the supporting artists were also included), it was produced by Joko Films and directed by Steve Gebhardt with Bob Fries and Phil Spector overseeing the soundtrack. ABC in the US broadcast the film on 14th December 1972 as part of their In Concert series with FM Radio simulcasts being aired in many cities as well.
1972 also saw the release of the film version of Oh Calcutta, Kenneth Tynan's controversial and irreverent sex revue, which contained full frontal nudity and four-letter words. The movie was 100 minutes long and was directed by Jacques Levy. John had originally written a sketch for the 1969 stage version of the show at the invitation of Tynan, and this was included in the film. His sketch "Four in hand" concerned group masturbation and was based on Lennon's own teenage experiences. Tynan decided not to follow John's suggestion that the actors should actually masturbate on stage!
One further notable film of John and Yoko was made after 1972:- Five days of Double Fantasy sessions were captured on videotape beginning on 18th August 1980 but little has been seen of it since.
A posthumous rockumentary movie on the life of Lennon entitled "Imagine: John Lennon" (utilizing footage from many of the items listed above) was premiered on October 6th 1988.
A 2nd documentary movie initially playing in cinema's was "The U.S. vs. John Lennon" which concentrated on Lennon's 'radical' period and was premiered in the USA in September 2006.