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Trivia / Tommy

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  • Black Sheep Hit: "Pinball Wizard" was added to the album as an afterthought, supposedly to gain the favor of New York Times music critic Nik Cohn, who was noted to be a fan of pinball. (Cohn was apprehensive about an early draft of Tommy, but when Pete suggested that Tommy would become famous as a pinball player, his opinion immediately improved.) Pete Townshend even admitted that it was "the most clumsy piece of writing I'd ever done"; he refused to believe there was any merit to it until the producer and the rest of the band said it sounded like a hit.
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  • Breakaway Pop Hit: "Pinball Wizard" served as this for both the original album and the 1975 film.
  • Dawson Casting: Roger Daltrey is just less than three years younger than his screen mother Ann-Margret, and just over four years younger than his screen stepfather Oliver Reed. To top it all off, Daltrey is exactly three months older than his screen father Robert Powell. He is also two years older than Keith Moon, who plays his uncle Ernie.
  • Executive Meddling: Ken Russell insisted on casting Oliver Reed in the movie, and consequently expanded his character's role to replace that of Tommy's father in the album. This led Pete Townshend to have to tweak his singing parts so it was within his range.
  • Fake Brit: Jack Nicholson cameos as the very very English-sounding Specialist.
  • Harpo Does Something Funny: Ann-Margret largely improvised the infamous bean scene. Ken Russell simply told her that her character was having a nervous breakdown, and that she could do whatever she wanted. Unfortunately, at one point during filming, her hand accidentally struck the broken glass of the television screen and Russell had to rush her to the hospital for stitches.
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  • Name's the Same: "We're Not Gonna Take It" is also the name of a Twisted Sister song.
  • Prop Recycling: The costumes in the "Rex Baked Beans" advert were originally made for the lavish masked ball sequence in The Three Musketeers (1973), and the dress worn by the Queen in the Rex ad is that worn by Geraldine Chaplin in the earlier film.
  • Recursive Adaptation: The album was adapted as a musical in the 1990s, and produced an album of the original cast recording.
  • Throw It In!:
    • The building that is seen to be on fire, part of Tommy's holiday camp, is in fact, really burning down. It is South Parade Pier in Southsea. A fire was accidentally started during filming, and the crew decided to include the footage in the film. The fire crews and the fire are genuine. The pier was rebuilt, and is still in use today.
    • During the legendary Woodstock festival, while performing "See Me, Feel Me" early in the morning, the sun broke over the horizon just as Tommy started singing the chorus, bathing the stage in sunlight. While unplanned, the effect was so good that the band began incorporating lighting rigs into their act just to replicate it, and it's given a nod in the movie.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Roger Daltrey was taught real sign language so that he would be able to use it in the gesture song scene in the film. Unfortunately (arguably due to some more Executive Meddling), it ended up just being a parody of sign language instead.
    • George Lucas could've directed the movie. Yes, that George Lucas. He wasn't available due to working on American Graffiti at the time he was asked.
    • Rod Stewart could've been the Local Lad for the movie. He turned the role down after Elton John advised him not to take it (and after Elton had turned it down himself). Elton later said that Stewart never quite forgave him for that.
      • Some rumors have gone around about Tiny Tim being considered for that role as well.
    • David Bowie was considered for the role of the Acid Queen at some point. Mick Jagger was reportedly offered the role but insisted on singing three of his own songs so the role was given to Tina Turner.
    • According to Pete Townshend in his book Who I Am, when Stevie Wonder found out they were making a movie of Tommy, he wanted to play the Pinball Wizard, but Pete Townshend didn't think it would make sense that he would have a blind guy playing a guy with sight, playing pinball against someone who's supposed to be blind, deaf, and dumb. Needless to say, Wonder was a little upset at Townshend over it.
    • Christopher Lee turned down the role of The Specialist, as he was in Thailand filming The Man with the Golden Gun. Peter Sellers was also considered.
    • The whole thing was originally going to be about a girl who was reincarnated.
  • Working Title: Deaf Dumb and Blind Boy and Amazing Journey.


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