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3.7 out of 5 stars 339 customer reviews

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(Sep 28, 1999)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This classic rock opera is brought energetically to life by an outstanding cast including many stars of the rock music industry. Told through the remarkable music of The Who, this is the story of Tommy, who, when just a boy of six, wit¬nessed the murder of his father by his mother (Ann-Margret) and her lover (Oliver Reed). They command him, “You didn’t hear it, you didn’t see it, and you won’t say anything to any¬one…” As a result, the traumatized boy retreats into the shadows of his mind and becomes deaf, dumb and blind. Growing into manhood, Tommy (Roger Daltrey) is subjected to several bizarre cure attempts by The Acid Queen (Tina Turner), the Preacher (Eric Clapton), and the Specialist (Jack Nicholson). In spite of his handicap, Tommy defeats the Pinball Wizard (Elton John) and becomes the champ, attaining a devoted following. When he is finally cured, he is hailed by his fans as a “Messiah.”


If you've ever wanted to hear Jack Nicholson sing (or try to) or marvel at the sight of Ann-Margret drunkenly cavorting in a cascade of baked beans, Tommy is the movie you've been waiting for. As it turns out, the Who's brilliant rock opera is sublimely matched to director Ken Russell's penchant for cinematic excess, and this 1975 production finds Russell at the peak of his filmmaking audacity. It's a fever-dream of musical bombast, custom-fit to the thematic ambition of Pete Townshend's epic rock drama, revolving around the titular "deaf, dumb, and blind kid" (played by Who vocalist Roger Daltrey) who survives the childhood trauma that stole his senses to become a Pinball Wizard messiah in Townshend's grandiose attack on the hypocrisy of organized religion.

The story is remarkably coherent considering the hypnotic dream-state induced by Russell's visuals. Tommy's odyssey is rendered through wall-to-wall music, each song representing a pivotal chapter in Tommy's chronology, from the bloodstream shock of "The Acid Queen" (performed to the hilt by Tina Turner) to Nicholson's turn as a well-intentioned physician, Elton John's towering rendition of "Pinball Wizard," and Daltrey's epiphanous rendition of "I'm Free." Other performers include Eric Clapton and (most outrageously) the Who's drummer Keith Moon, and through it all Russell is almost religiously faithful to Townshend's artistic vision. Although it divided critics when first released, Tommy now looks likes a minor classic of gonzo cinema, worthy of the musical genius that fueled its creation. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features

  • Original 1975 Theatrical Quintaphonic Soundtrack, Digitally remastered for Dolby Digital 5.0 and 2-channel Dolby Surround
  • Audio restoration essay

Product Details

  • Actors: Roger Daltrey, Ann-Margret, Oliver Reed, Elton John, Eric Clapton
  • Directors: Ken Russell
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), English (Dolby Digital 5.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: English
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Columbia Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: September 28, 1999
  • Run Time: 111 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (339 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00000K3TV
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,138 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Tommy" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
As the five-star rating would indicate, I've loved TOMMY sincethe day it opened (and yes, I was there for its premiere). I've alsopurchased the movie in just about every incarnation that have been released: videotape, laserdisc, and now DVD.
What's most exciting about the DVD version -- and something which doesn't seem to have been mentioned in other Amazon reviews -- is that the soundtrack to the film has been completely restored. "Quintaphonic sound" may sound a little silly and may not even mean much in this age of digital sound, but TOMMY was the movie that saw the rebirth of multi-channel audio (most films of the late 60s and early 70s were either mono or 2-channel stereo). The enhanced 5-channel discrete sound was a perfect extension of Ken Russell's audacious visuals. The tag line to the movie was "Your senses will never be the same," and it perfectly described both the visual AND aural assault on audience members.
Well, this DVD is the first (and only) format to feature the complete "Quintaphonic" soundtrack. If you have a Dolby Digital decoder, you're going to hear the movie in a way that wasn't even possible back in 1975! All of the vocals are locked dead center while the score itself blasts out of the remaining four speakers. And there's absolutely no distortion, even when you jack the volume up (which you should, since it was intended to be heard that way). It's a wonderful - and quite unexpected - thrill to hear the movie this way. Previous editions had absolutely terrible audio tracks that were poorly mixed down from the originals. The result -- even on the laserdisc -- was a muddy mess. Not so with this DVD edition, which includes a written essay insert explaining the soundtrack's restoration.
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Format: Blu-ray
I was thrilled to pick this up a few days early at my local record store....but HORRIFIED to find it a bare bones affair. Yes, it does look even better than the Superbit version but my UK 2 DVD set from 2004 has HOURS of bonus features...
1) Director Commentary
2) insightful interview with Ken Russell by Mark Kermode
3) more of Ken Russell discussing Tommy
4) Pete Townshend interview
5) Roger Daltrey interview
6) Ann-Margret interview
7) Trailer, Press Promo materials, a featurette on the Sound...
NONE of this is on the new Blu-RAY....
with any luck it will all be on an all region UK blu-ray..
I'll refer to this version as a Boo-Ray...
GREAT MOVIE...but I can't rate this a 5 STAR Blu-Ray DVD...my review is NOT for the movie but the product/presentation itself...
10 Comments 56 of 60 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
Having heard about Tommy for years, I felt it was time to actually watch the movie. I had never acquired much of a sense for what the movie is about, probably because I don't think it is really possible to actually explain the film to anyone else. This is some pretty weird stuff. As the thing progressed, I had a hard time figuring out if I liked what I was seeing, whether it made any sense, etc. In the end, I must say I did enjoy the film, thanks largely to Daltrey, the music, and Ann-Margaret. What does it all mean? That's a toughie, as I'm sure the story means different things to different people. I had the sense that Tommy is supposed to be some kind of spiritual experience, and in some ways it is - maybe.

Here's my ridiculously oversimplified summary of the basic story. As a kid, Tommy is messed up pretty good, having witnessed something pretty dramatic; as a result, he becomes deaf, blind, and mute - for psychological rather than physical reasons. His mother (Ann-Margaret) and step-father try all kinds of weird cures as Tommy enters what should be his adulthood, including a visit to the holy rollers at a church that worships Marilyn Monroe and a special session with "The Acid Queen" (Tina Turner). Nothing seems to get through to him - until, of course, he happens to come across a pinball machine. Truly, that deaf, dumb, and blind kid sure plays a mean pinball, knocking the current pinball wizard (Elton John) off his pedestal. Suddenly, Tommy's family is rolling in the money, yet Tommy remains uncommunicative. When he does eventually find "awareness," he is transformed into a messiah figure, and crowds flock to him to hear his wisdom.

The film gets off to a pretty slow start, as we follow Tommy's childhood.
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1 Comment 48 of 52 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
Beautifully filmed, unique conception, brilliant use of symbolism, and over the top performances. The only true downside to this is the certain slumps in the story that I feel the Broadway show improved on. Primarily, the fact that the ending in the movie differs from the play same as the "You didn't Hear it, You didn't see it scene." But I refuse to make comparisons. So. What I'll say is that Ann-Margret's voice fit this musical like a glove. Oliver Reed was purely sinister and just as scary as he was in "Oliver!" Tina Turner's "Acid Queen" Is truly a milestone and Elton John was hilarious as Pinball Wizard. Daltrey had an interesting touch with the Title role. And the orchestrations were great. I just bought this one a few days ago and I've watched it 6 times already. This is definitely a good buy. Don't believe me? Then watch strictly for the sake of watching AND listening to Jack Nicholson try to sing (It's just as funny as Marlon Brando flat singing voice in Guys and Dolls.) But if you're a devoted "Who" fan, or a musical lover I recommend this movie.
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