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Trivia / Performance

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  • BFI Top 100 British Films: #48
  • Breakaway Pop Hit: Not actually a hit, but "Memo from Turner" has gained a life outside of the film, featured in Goodfellas and getting the Cover Version treatment from several artists. Also, "Gone Dead Train", the song that opens and closes the film (sung by Randy Newman, but not written by him) was later covered by Crazy Horse and Nazareth.
  • Cast the Expert: Some of the minor members of Flowers' gang were allegedly real London Gangsters.
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  • Colbert Bump: Most moviegoers probably heard of Ry Cooder and Mick Jagger's Memo from Turner from the screening of Goodfellas than they have from this film.
  • Creator Backlash: According to a recent book on Donald Cammell, Anthony Valentine is said to have not only disliked working on the film, but the film as well.
  • The Danza: Laraine Wickens as Lorraine.
  • 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. In the case of James Fox, after the film he suffered a nervous breakdown, became a born-again Christian, then took a long sabbatical from acting (though he doesn't blame the film specifically as a culprit for all that).
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  • Mid-Development Genre Shift: The film was originally a light-hearted Swinging Sixties romp. As the project evolved the story became significantly darker. Douglas Cammell was influenced by the Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges (a portrait of Borges on a book cover can be seen at a crucial moment in the film), as he redrafted the script to create an intense, intellectual film dealing with an identity crisis.
  • Playing Against Type:
    • James Fox, who before (and after) this film played Stuffy Brits and Upper Class Twits. He's remarkably convincing here.
    • Though it's his acting debut, the flamboyant, energetic Mick Jagger as the introverted, lethargic Turner also counts.
  • The Shelf of Movie Languishment: The film was completed in 1968, but Warner Bros. hated it so much that they shelved it for two years. In fact, this was Mick Jagger's film debut, but Ned Kelly was released first.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Chas was originally an American gangster hiding out in London and the role was meant for Marlon Brando.
    • Marianne Faithfull was originally cast as Ferber, but dropped out when she became pregnant.
    • Mia Farrow was up for the part of Lucy, but she injured her arm before filming began.
    • It was intended that The Rolling Stones would write the soundtrack but due to the complicated nature of the various relationships on and off-screen, this never happened.
  • Working Title: The film's original scripted title was The Liars, then it was changed to The Performers and eventually the more existential title Performance.


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