Proof that they don’t make drugs like they used to in the 1970s, “All This And World War Two” is one of the most messed-up movie ideas to ever make it to the big screen. Someobody came up with the bright idea to combine all-star re-recordings of classic Beatles songs with…get ready…stock footage of old movies about World War II.
This was not a comedy sketch. It really happened.
The soundtrack album caught my notice due to it being a very expensive boxed set selling for more than twenty bucks. I got my copy as a cutout at Budget Tapes and Records for $2.99. It was barely worth that. The movie was billed as having “Words and Music by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.”
The line-up of talent was amazing. It includes the first-ever solo recordings of Peter Gabriel, Bryan Ferry and Jeff Lynne. There are also cuts by Ambrosia, Elton John, Tina Turner, The BeeGees, The Brothers Johnson, Leo Sayer, Rod Stewart and many others. Adding to the “WTF” mystique of this project, Frankie Laine, Keith Moon and Helen Reddy also sang, and all the music was smothered in the fruitiest-sounding arrangments imaginable, courtesy of the London Symphony Orchestra. While some of the music is okay, many tracks can be used to clear a room.
Peter Gabriel can’t seem to find a key to sing “Strawberry Fields Forever” in and winds up croaking the song out like Pee Wee Herman. Leo Sayer’s “I Am The Walrus” is as ill-advised in execution as it looks on paper. Frankie Laine is paired up with “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” in what may be the quintessential marriage of a room-clearing singer with exodus-inducing material.
I’d never had the chance to see the movie “All This And World War Two.” I seem to remember it turning up on cable in the early 1980s, either on Cinemax or Night Flight, but I missed it. It has not had an offcial release on DVD as far as I know. Recently I got curious again and discovered it has been posted on YouTube.
And so, with no apologies, this week PopCult presents a film so bad you may find yourself glued to the computer, staring in disbelief at one of the most head-scratching movies of all time, the utterly useless and confusing, “All This And World War Two.”
If you can make it past the footage of marching Nazis set to “Magical Mystery Tour” by Ambrosia, you must indeed be made of stern stuff.
One late trivia note: Elton John’s version of “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” was released independently of this film and had already been a number one single. The producers licensed it and then dubbed an orchestral arrangment over it without John’s knowledge. Had the producers of the films soundtrack been more savvy, they would have realized that John Lennon played guitar and contributed backing vocals to the hit single, but is barely audible after the extensive orchestal overdubs.