troperville

tools

toys


main index

Narrative

Genre

Media

Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
random
Film: Performance
One of the most infamous Mind Screws in film history, directed by Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg. Also famous as the first and probably only good acting role for Mick Jagger.

London Gangster Chas (James Fox) is the lead enforcer for Don Harry Flowers. When he seriously pisses Flowers off by killing an old enemy of his who Flowers would have preferred to come to a profitable arrangement with, he is left desperate for a place to hide before he can get a fake passport and leave the country. He inveigles himself into the crumbling townhouse that burned-out rock star Turner (Jagger) shares with his two girlfriends: witchy German Ferber (Anita Pallenberg) and sunny French Lucy (Michèle Breton). He gradually finds himself drawn into their life of heavy drugs and weird sex. And then things get really peculiar...


This film provides examples of:

  • Adam Westing: Ferber the mysterious, bisexual drug addict girlfriend of a rock star, was played by Anita Pallenberg, a mysterious bisexual who was struggling with a heroin addiction and dating a rock star at the time.
  • Big Fancy House: The main setting
  • Concept Video: The fantasy sequence in which Turner, adopting Chas's London Gangster persona, sings the song "Memo From Turner" to Flowers' gang. This was actually released as a pop video separately to the film. Also counts as a Sanity Slippage Song.
  • Cool Car: Chas's Jaguar Mark II, and Flowers' Roller.
  • Creepy Child: Lorraine, the weird little girl with a false moustache who drifts in and out of Turner's house. Is she his daughter? Related to one of the women? A street urchin who talked her way in like Chas? Something outright sinister?
  • Exact Eavesdropping: The conversation Chas overhears at Paddington station that alerts him to Turner's free room.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble:
    • Sanguine: Lorraine
    • Choleric: Chas
    • Melancholic: Turner and Ferber
    • Phlegmatic: Lucy
  • Foreign People Are Sexy: Ferber and Lucy
  • Gainax Ending: A well-known one. As Flowers' hoods turn up at the house, Chas shoots a passive and maybe willing Turner dead, then peacefully surrenders to them. As he is driven off in a white Rolls-Royce, presumably to his death, we see him look out of the window, and his face appears to be Turner's.
  • Gayngster: What initially is heavy homoerotic innuendo about Flowers and his gang is then made full text when we see that he and one of his inner circle share a bedroom.
  • Genre Shift: For the first half-hour or so, it's a gritty, violent (if artily directed) gangster movie. Then Chas turns up at Turner's house and everything gets weird.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: In the early part of the film, there are several bits where gangster violence gets intercut with sex scenes between Chas and his girlfriend, and between Turner and his girls.
  • London Gangster: Lots and lots of them. Some of the minor gangster characters were reputedly the real thing.
  • Mental Fusion: Ends up happening between Chas and Turner. Maybe.
  • Method Acting: Where do we start? James Fox was made to live in South London and hang out with gangsters in real life for a few months, with David Litvinoff (credited as "dialogue coach and technical advisor", but actually pretty much "mob liaison") making sure he didn't get into any real trouble. During the filming, Cammell allegedly encouraged the cast and crew to take drugs and mingle sexually to help get into the necessary atmosphere. It is strongly rumoured that some of the sex scenes (especially the early one between Turner, Ferber and Lucy) were the real thing. One scene has been confessed by Pallenberg to show her actually shooting heroin, which she was just starting to get into at the time. There are some (possibly exaggerated) stories about how badly this messed some people up in real life.
  • Mushroom Samba: A literal one, when Ferber feeds an unknowing Chas a salad made with hallucinogenic mushrooms.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Harry Flowers is a hybrid of the two sets of brothers who notoriously ruled and fought over London's organised crime of the era, South London's Richardsons (the involvement with fraud and the Cold-Blooded Torture), and East London's Krays (the homoeroticism and intra-gang violence).
  • The Precious, Precious Car: Chas pours acid over a lawyer's Rolls-Royce. With the chauffeur handcuffed to it.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: When Chas kills Turner.
  • Psycho for Hire: Chas, initially.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Ferber is Blue, Lucy Red.
  • Reveal Shot: Chas rings the friend who's been trying to get him a passport and asks him to come to Turner's house to deliver it. The shot of the friend widens and we see Flowers' gang are in the room with him.
  • Same Language Dub: The lines delivered by the black musician whose overheard conversation alerts Chas to Turner's free room were overdubbed by Ian Mc Shane
  • Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll: Turner, although he's mostly given up the "rock and roll" part.
  • Shame If Something Happened: At the start of the film, Chas delivers a speech like this to the owner of a minicab firm while actually trashing the place.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Chas, until Turner persuades him to go from Mod to Hippie.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Turner's Title Drop is a quotation from Antonin Artaud.
    • Turner reads aloud from the works of Jorge Luis Borges, and a portrait of him is seen being pierced by the bullet when Chas shoots Turner.
  • Title Drop:
    Turner: The only performance that makes it, that makes it all the way, is the one that achieves madness.
  • Traumatic Haircut: Chas and some of the other gangsters forcibly shave the head of the chauffeur of a lawyer they want to intimidate (and pour acid over his car).
  • Two-Person Pool Party: More than two people actually: there's lots of fun in Turner's big bathtub.
  • Whip It Good: Joey savagely beats Chas with a belt before Chas gets free and kills him.
  • White-Dwarf Starlet: Turner
  • Writer's Block: Implied to be at the root of Turner's problems.
A Perfect MurderMystery And Detective FilmsThe Pink Panther
Peeping TomDanny Peary Cult Movies ListPetulia
PattonFilms of the 1970sThe Phantom Tollbooth

random
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy
14053
41