Rocking and Reeling, Part Two: Detroit – Post One

9-14-79 – Possibly the greatest promotion for Rock ‘n’ Roll High School in my opinion: In Detroit with the classic The Kids are Alright, a film that centers on why The Who are important with a perfect balance of their Mod/Pop Art action, Keith Moon, and 70’s Rock greatness. If you really want to get picky, it was in the Suburbs, actually (The 8-Mile based Bel Air DI was the closest to the city!), but when you have a line that sells, use it!

It’s time for another round of Rock ‘n’ Reel action, this time in the Metro Detroit area. You already know it’s legacy and those who are reading this in Southeastern MI might be either those from the era who might have some great memories (or, like me a kid who slightly knew what was going on) or those new to this wondering how rockers got their visual kicks away from the concert stage or late night TV before Cable.

Many of the Punk films loved in the Scene played in the Detroit area at specialty houses without much promotion, and sadly the Punch and Judy should have done some as it had some of the best, but thankfully there’s a lot of good stuff to make this a cool trip. More posts are in the plans.


10-4-67 – Although most of the great Rock movies were mainly just pure excitement, Privilege was one of the rare successful films that mixed Art film with Rock Movie into a thought provoking experience that’s still valuable today (maybe more so…). Paul Jones (Ex-Manfred Mann) was great and in good voice and Jean Shrimpton was cool to look at. This was a serious sell for the movie that was usually promoted like the Pop Art happening it was, playing at the Studio 8 – yes, the theater that turned Porno in the Mid 70’s and closed in 1982. Released right after the intense and violent Summer of ’67 and with the Pop Kids of the British Invasion growing up in a Grande Day, it was perfect for them to check out a film that they could connect with.


7-3-68 – When The MC5 were Detroit’s much-talked-about revolutionary band, Wild in the Streets was the Straight Set’s nightmare turned into a great movie.

2-13-70 – If you want it, here it is for another week! The Magic Christian played at a number of theaters including the Downtown Madison (RIP, Possibly Jan. 1985) and the Jewel and Radio City – the later fading away about 1978-9. Although it was a hit thanks to having Ringo Starr as it’s co-star(r…sorry!), it remains a seriously entertaining film despite the message of the power of money being way too obvious – then again in a time of “Reality Shows” the ending actually connects.


6-3-70 – Although Girl on a Motorcycle did not make a stop in Detroit, it’s re-release as Naked Under Leather did. Marianne Faithfull in all of her 1968 Swinging London looks at least had one film that captured her looking great. Shortly after this showing, she was in a serious downfall and would record a set of songs that would turn into Rich Kid Blues in Late 1970 which was released some time later.



5-15-70 and 10-28-70 – The New Studio Center was hip to what was going on, and being in Downtown Detroit when the Grande Ballroom was closed except for a few select shows turned it into a screen for some films that connected with the Grande set. For some reason, the disappointment that started to run in the city’s music scene that year connected with the very downbeat movies that remain important to see now – More being a dark ride into Heroin addiction featuring a classic soundtrack by Pink Floyd that was released in 1969 (on Tower around the time of The Chocolate Watchband’s One Step Beyond) and Performance being just a wild mind trip featuring Mick Jagger at this best.

Unlike most of the other theaters in the Studio chain, it closed before anyone could turn it into a Porno – the Studio 4 was about to in 1977 but was stopped by law.


11-23-73 – If you have not seen this movie, do so soon.


12-15-71 – the Studio 8 got the infamous 200 Motels featuring the Flo and Eddie edition of the Mothers of Invention. Frank Zappa’s surreal look into life on the road featuring Ringo Starr and Keith Moon had a lot of negative reviews from those who did not understand but it remained a cult favorite with fans.


6-7-74 – On the other side, here’s Ringo in the infamous Son of Dracula which was filmed in Nilsson’s Son of Schmilsson days, recording an album that showed the excellent much-missed singer going into a very dark mood while starring in a film directed by Freddie Francis who at that time was making two bad Vampire Comedies – the other being the Vampire Happening which first made it to the Detroit area on VHS (it actually played in a few areas, believe me!). It was finally released after a long time when the Nilsson/John Lennon Pussy Cats album was unleashed.

To see a career “Jump In to the Fire” and proving that as a actor, Nilsson was a great singer…

July, 1972 – I don’t know if the Radio City audience would keep that cheer after watching this disjointed attempt to bring political commentary by Jean-Luc Godard, who has made some incredible movies…but not this. To be fair, the recording session segments are worth a look into to witness the creation of the classic “Sympathy for the Devil”, but only some of the staged scenes of rebellion and shock work (the scene at the Book Store). As this movie had a mixed response from the get go, I don’t think it even brought in the audience on this play during The Rolling Stones’ highly rated 1972 tour which stopped at Cobo Arena.

6-21-74 – Cin-a-Rock, the multi media show I discussed a LONG time back, made a stop in Detroit. In this performance, local Bassist Tony Newton’s band North Star made it’s live appearance – sadly I can’t come up with anything featuring them.


5-13-84 – The “Roadshow” of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars made it to the Royal Oak Music Theater in time when it was perfect to remember why he matters when his music was in his much-criticized 80’s era (a few months later after this showing, Tonight made many worry even with “Loving the Alien”


6-1-84 – Suburbia was a great film that played when the area’s short-lived New Wave FM Radio station, WLBS, was moving into a more Top 40 driven format which then got erased all together by Oldies. I’m sure those who went to the Fridge, Greystone, and other places that welcomed the Punk scene connected with this. The Maple was the Independent screen of the area that was bought by AMC around 1985-6 when it was buying up several Nicholas George Theaters although it kept mainly to it’s Art Movie programs.


~ by screen13 on October 11, 2016.

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