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Mayor of the Sunset Strip

4.3 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Documentary follows the career of radio DJ and rock promoter Rodney Bingenheimer.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Rodney Bingenheimer, David Bowie, Joey Ramone, Exene Cervenka, John Doe
  • Directors: George Hickenlooper
  • Writers: George Hickenlooper
  • Producers: Christopher Paul Carter, Donald Zuckerman, Greg Little, Greg S. Little, Julie Janata
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
  • Studio: Alchemy / Millennium
  • DVD Release Date: August 17, 2004
  • Run Time: 94 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00026L93Y
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #119,590 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Mayor of the Sunset Strip" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Roland E. Zwick on January 16, 2005
Format: DVD
***1/2 If "Mayor of the Sunset Strip" were not a documentary, no one would ever believe the story it tells. The film chronicles the life of Rodney Bingenheimer, the L.A. DJ who helped to launch the careers of many of the most influential bands in rock music history. However, if you're expecting Rodney to be a dashing, high-powered music exec with loads of cash and garages full of fancy sport cars, think again. He is, in fact, a painfully shy and unassuming man who seems totally out of place in the celebrity swirl of which he became so integral a part beginning in the 1960`s. This is what makes his story and the film so fascinating, for who could have imagined that this gnomish young lad from Mountain View, California - essentially abandoned by both his mother and father and rejected by his peers - would somehow manage to make himself the center of attention for some of the greatest rock celebrities of the 1960's and `70's. Everybody who was anybody knew and adored Rodney, and, after he landed a gig as DJ at L.A.'s KROQ in the 1970`s, he gave many struggling alternative artists their first real toehold on the radio, playing their records at a time when no other disc jockeys would touch them. The bands who practically owe their careers to Rodney Bingenheimer include Blondie, the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, the Runaways, the Go-Go's, No Doubt, Coldplay, and many many others.

As a documentary, the film, written and directed by George Hickenlooper, takes a fairly conventional approach, combining images from Rodney's life with interviews by celebrities, relatives and friends commenting on him both as a person and as a phenomenon.
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Format: DVD
I'm giving this DVD 5 stars because, taken together with the special features, the film contributes to a package that may be essential for any rock fan/armchair historian like myself. I agree with the criticism that the film spends too much time probing into Rodney's personal life; I assume the film-maker felt an obligation to present his subject's inner life as well as his social world, but ultimately I really don't care whether Rodney's best female buddy is his lover or not - I'm far more interested in the man's profound contribution to rock history. That said, the movie does its job well enough to hold the attention of rock fanatics and casual viewers alike.

But what really seals the deal - and I'm surprised none of the reviews here have mentioned this - is a scene, tucked away in the special features, in which the film maker introduces Brian Wilson to Elvis Costello. The ensuing exchange is as fascinationg as you might imagine: A calm, collected Elvis does his best not to scream out "Ohmygod I'm talking to Brian Wilson!" while the latter goes on being his weird, intriguing self. The genius hangs like some luminescent protoplasm in the room while these two discuss recording studios, songwriting and fame. This segment alone moved me to go out and buy the DVD (I had rented it).

Oh yeah, and there are interviews with people like Cher, David Bowie, and Pamela and Michael Des Barres, who proves himself a really entertaining and engaging character. Enjoy!
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Format: DVD
By turns outrageously funny and reflectively sad, this fascinating look at the life of L.A. music scene fixture Rodney Bingenheimer is a must-see for anyone claiming to be a serious rock fan. The diminutive, skittish and soft-spoken Bingenheimer comes off as Andy Warhol's West coast twin, or perhaps the Forrest Gump of rock and roll-somehow he has been in the hurricane's eye of every major music "scene" since the mid 60's, from Monkeemania (working as Davey Jones' double!) to becoming the first DJ to champion current superstars Coldplay. Although ostensibly "about" Rodney, the film is at its core a whirlwind timetrip through Rock's evolution, filtered through a coked-out L.A. haze. The ongoing photograph montages of Rodney posing with an A-Z roster of every major seminal rock figure in the genre's history began to remind me of Woody Allen's Alfred Zelig, a nondescript milquetoast who could morph his appearance to match whomever he was with at the time. Rodney himself remains a cypher; in one scene he fidgets nervously and begs the director to turn off the camera when the questions get too "close". There is also a sad irony; despite his ability to attract the company of the rich and famous (and they all appear to adore the man), the fruits of fame and success evade Rodney himself. He drives a "beater" to his DJ job at L.A.'s legendary KROQ; he lives alone in a cluttered little hovel, where treasured memorabilia like Elvis Presely's first driver's license(!) collects dust next to the empty pizza boxes. Priceless commentary from the likes of music producer Kim Fowley (whose own wacked-out rock 'n' roll career contains enough fodder for a whole other documentary), Pamela Des Barres (legendary groupie; aka "Miss Pamela" of Frank Zappa proteges The G.T.O.'s)and her husband, musician Michael Des Barres. One of the best "rockumentaries" to date.
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Format: DVD
Like Woody Allen's "Zelig", Rodney Binginheimer seems an unassuming little person who just happens to show up during pivitol moments. There he is, in early music videos of groups such as The Mama And The Papas, clapping out of time off to the side, just a devoted fan. And as a stand in for Davey Jones on The Monkees t.v. show. With The Beatles...Jerry Lee Lewis...Jimi Hendrix. I first heard of Rodney many years ago, in the "X" documentary "The Unheard Music." He seemed a sweet but strange little man, kind of a new wave Peter Pan. This fascinating documentary reveals that Rodney is indeed a sweet man, with a palpable lonliness hovering around him. For someone who was on a first name basis with most of the music icons of the last forty years, he remains painfully shy. And though his early support of many then unheard of artists, through his role of d.j. on the famous L.A. radio station KROQ, literally put them on the map, he remains the ultimate reverential fan. There is nothing about him that suggests that he's done anything important, and he remains totally modest. He is surrounded by stars, his "friends", but, still seems alone. It was undoubtedly his modesty, and the respect he felt for the music stars he worshipped, which allowed so many of those stars to let him into their inner circle. There are great scenes and music in this film. Rodney was the one who introduced the then still relatively unknown David Bowie to L.A. in the very early seventies, and there they are, thirty years later, two old friends. Rodney promoted many bands, such as Blondie, The Go-Go's, DramaRama, The Smiths, X, and many, many more, who would otherwise never have gotten any radioplay in L.A., and all went on to greater exposure.Read more ›
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