Sunday, June 12, 2011

Mick Jagger: Memo from Turner

The first pop video? This is a scene from the 1970 film Performance, starring Mick Jagger and James Fox. My Adventure Through Film explains their two characters:
Chas, played by James Fox, is a violent gangster living in a rough part of East London. Though he takes great pleasure from his work, he is often not given the respect that he deserves from his boss. After carrying out a hit that was not supposed to happen, Chas leaves town to lay low for a while. This is where he meets the eccentric retired rock star, Turner ...

Played by Mick Jagger, Turner is a drug and sex addicted former rock star who has disappeared into retirement in order to write a memoir. Jagger is nothing short of brilliant in this role. He oozes with dirty and bi-gender sexuality that is actually a little confusing.
But Fox is brilliant too. Originally a child star who had his own Ealing Comedy (The Magnet), Fox was best known before this for playing effete aristocrats (The Servant) or preppy song-and-dance men (Thoroughly Modern Millie), he is utterly convincing as an East End gangster.

His subsequent religious conversion and disappearance from films for a decade did nothing to harm the cult reputation of Performance.

Fox reappeared in the 1980s but now seems inextricably confused in the public mind with his brother Edward. (Clue: James is the one who can act.) He is now the father-in-law of both Billie Piper and Richard Ayoade.

1 comment:

Frank Little said...

The first pop video?
Pre-dated by those film clips prepared for video juke boxes in the 1960s I would have thought. Fran├žoise Hardy appeared in one, a fact sadly omitted from the otherwise excellent recent Radio 4 tribute.

Anyway, the effect of the Jagger performance was certainly visceral in the cinema. Credit should go to the late Donald Cammell as well as Nicholas Roeg and the others you cite.