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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Review: Lambert and Stamp

Posted By on Sun, May 31, 2015 at 6:30 PM


It’s hard to imagine a more unlikely pair than Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp, two aspiring filmmakers who accidentally shaped rock history by turning a scruffy young band called the High Numbers into what the entire world came to know as The Who. Lambert was the son of a famous symphony conductor while Stamp’s father was a tugboat captain, but they became fast friends through shared frustration working on film crews that offered no path to becoming film directors. They decided to find a great but unknown rock ‘n’ roll band in the swinging London of the mid-1960s, take them under their wing and shoot a documentary about their experiences to jumpstart their careers. Those film careers and the unfinished documentary went nowhere, but The Who soon became an unstoppable force.

Shot over a period of ten years, cinematographer turned first-time director James D. Cooper’s documentary Lambert and Stamp combines reams of archival footage — including unreleased material from the planned documentary that will delight Who fans — and interviews with surviving band members Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey, Chris Stamp (who passed away in 2012) and his older brother, actor Terrence Stamp. The film is dense and intentionally chaotic to reflect both the era it depicts and its protagonists’ youthful states of mind. Even the music of The Who is presented in seemingly random style, with demos and bootleg live recordings often taking the place of hit singles.

With its two-hour running time, the film is not for casual fans. But those with an abiding interest in The Who (particularly the band’s earth-shaking early days) or more generally in Mod-powered 1960s London will experience Lambert and Stamp as a rare and singular treat.

Lambert and Stamp screens tonight, May 31, and tomorrow, June 1, at the Elmwood Palace Theater. More info here.

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