iPlayer Radio What's New?

Film Club - Slade In Flame

Friday 31 August 2012, 09:00

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

Tagged with:

Here is the latest Kermode Uncut Film Club choice - the Citizen Kane of British pop movies - Slade In Flame. Watch the intro, screen the film and let me know what you think.

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash Installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. If you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit the blog to access this content

Related Posts on Kermode Uncut
Film Club

Hear Mark Kermode review the week's new films every Friday from 2pm on BBC Radio 5 live. Kermode & Mayo's Film Review is also available as a free download.

Tagged with:

Comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1.

    My intitial thought was that the movie was This Is Spinal Tap meets Get Carter and it did look like Johnny Shannon had walked off the set of Performance and onto Slade In Flame still wearing a brown suit and dripping with the same malevolence...that's all good, though. However, the film revealed a lot of depth and complexity from Richard Loncraine's visual style of direction, something he's always excelled at whether it's in the movies or for TV (the opening wedding scene, the pirate radio station and the flames projected onto the band's suits, to all the characters. Slade do very well with their roles but for me the stand out is Tom Conti who, despite being a toff arch-capitalist who sees only the money-making potential of the band, still manages to wring an ounce of sympathy as a family man who tries, but fails, to stand up to gangsters. Being a film of the 70s, the gangsters seem to win at the end...A motif that comes crashing down at the end of the decade with The Long Good Friday. Well done on choosing Slade in Flame for the film club, I really enjoyed it.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 2.

    On the money there Doc. Only Tommy and Slade in Flame are really any good in the Pop movies of that era. This mixes the Pop film and Kitchen Sink drama genres and embraced the grittiness that flowed through US movies at that time (like The Conversation, The French Connection, Serpico etc) and added a local, British flavour to it.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 3.

    Love the blog, watch every episode, etc. - but could you please get a better cameraman. The shots are often over exposed, and the audio is usually distorted. For a film blog, surely it could look and sound better than it is.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 4.

    When I heard the good Doctors next choice for the film club, I was sceptical to say the least , having been burnt by the movie vehicles built around a pop group before. You know the type, a well known -band playing 'themselves' are caught up in something sinister and fantastic and it all goes a bit Scooby – Doo. As for Slade - In Flame I was definatley surprised. There were no yellow submarines, no blue meanies, no cursed rings or wayward grandfathers. It was a real band playing a fictional version of themselves. And the plot. Simply the rise and fall of a northern rock group, with agents who act like gangsters, corporations looking after themselves and the opposing personalities of the group themselves heading for a burn-out. As for the films atmosphere you could almost smell the night clubs and seedy venues the band played, the whiff of cigarettes , blue nun and old spice. The performances are good to , Tom Conti excellent and understated as usual , but note must be made of the excellent naturalistic performances by Jim Lea and Noddy Holder. Slade in Flame isn't the jolly romp as most of these films had the habit of being, from the hobbling of Alan Lake to a disturbing message scrawled on a child's wall, its a darker and more realistic take on the rags to riches story.. Now that's what I call the music business.

    PS Do I have the good Doctors permission to rock.

    Brian from Luton

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 5.

    A brilliant choice. Saw the film as a boy and have watched it several times since, each time appreciating it a little more. The only other British music film that comes close is Still Crazy. I worked as a band's road manager and saw first-hand how screwed up the industry still is.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 6.

    I thank you for selecting this film, Mark. When I was a kid, my dad would always talk about this film and encourage me to watch it, but I'd always just dismissed it out of hand. A decision that is rendered quite baffling by the fact that I've always rather enjoyed the music of Slade. I think that maybe this decision was in part due to my distaste for the shockingly bad Led Zepplin vehicle The Song Remains the Same, and the not as bad, but still quite awful in my opinion, Tommy. Having seen your introduction, I was tantalised by the idea that I would be presented with a film of significantly more depth than I was accustomed to from these band-centric films, and that is exactly what I got. Even when things started to go well for the band, there was this real dark cloud of menace hanging over proceedings that really kept me intrigued as to how things were going to eventually go wrong for the boys.
    I didn't enjoy absolutely everything about the film, though. While I was quite impressed with Noddy Holder's and Jim Lea's performances, those of Don Powell and Dave Hill didn't really measure up for me. I know that these guys were not trained actors, and your explanation of Don Powell's accident and subsequent memory problems should perhaps make me inclined to criticise him less harshly, but viewed at face value I feel that these two really let down what is otherwise a very solid cast.
    The second thing that left me slightly unsatisfied was the ending. Everything from their problems in the studio, disputes at live performances to the final conclusion feels extremely condensed. I feel that adding an extra 10 or 15 minutes to the running time could have really helped with the pacing of the final act.
    Overall though, I really did enjoy this film. As a musician myself, and one that has spent a considerable amount of time touring and recording with a band under some questionable management, I can really see what the intentions of this film are, and it achieves them all admirably. The sense of disillusionment that has been captured is pitch perfect, and really did stir up some memories for me.
    I've noticed on the comments for the Youtube page of your intro that a few people are opting to skip this film, and I really hope they reconsider. Even if you're not a Slade fan there is a lot to like about this film, and I really feel they are missing out as I have for all these years.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 7.

    excellent choice, have been banging on about this movie for years. there are so many stand-out scenes from this movie, such as in the studio with Tom Conti discussing the bands future with their roadie and his realisation that its the end of the road for him working with the band is heart wrenching (all delivered over THAT great song). I have to disagree with the above comment on Don Powells performance, his speech by the canal with his former boss is touching and truthful.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 8.

    All I knew about Slade before your recommendation was "Merry Xmas Everybody". However you have now introduced me to some great songs and above all, a fantastic film.
    Thank you Dr K and as a mark of my appreciation.....some of Jack Daniels toes will be in the post.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 9.

    Great though "Slade in Flame" is (and as 'meh' as "That'll Be The Day" is), I'd say "Stardust" edges the title as the best UK pop film. Slade's characters seem to care more for the fame/glory/girls than for the music, but Jim MacLaine's sufferin' sees him genuinely in love with the music - even the final stuff that's clearly nonsense.
    - “How much does God mean to you?”
    - “Somewhere between two and three million dollars, after tax.”

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 10.

    Unfair to use Mud’s Never Too Young to Rock as the example of what pop movies were like in the early 70s.
    I agree with baytree61, good as Slade in Flame is, Stardust (released the previous year) has to be a strong contender for best British pop movie (or movie about the pop industry) yet made.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 11.

    I never owned or cared to own a Slade album before I saw Slade in Flame, but How Does it Feel? is the most amazing song. My dad was the Slade fan and I always kind of sniffed at them as spangly rubbish, until I got a bit older and saw the film. From that point, I got it. Just classy songwriting through and through.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 12.

    I really like this film a lot,i purchased the lovely deluxe edition dvd that came out some years ago.The Citizen Kane of pop movies does on the face of it seem like a grand statement,but i think you are right.The only one's that come close are A Hard Day's Night and the two David Essex movies.
    Flame isn't a perfect movie but i don't mind that at all.The script is full of cynism towards the music industry and occasionly the film has the look and tone of a kitchen sink drama,this is why i like it as much as i do.
    I don't have a problem with the acting abilities of Slade,their individual trait's are clearly presented and their working class roots fit right into the mood of the film.One scene in the film that does always puzzle me somewhat is the scene that takes place in the bingo hall with Don Powell and Alan Lake immediately after the drummer audition.Is this an editing mistake?If someone could enlighten me i would be truly grateful.
    The sad footnote to this movie is that the career of Slade suffered a downward slide in the years to follow,at the time of this movie the likes of Joe Strummer and Ian Dury would of been performing in the pubs of London and a new vanguard of rock n roll commodites were looming over the horizion.
    Another excellent choice Mark,really enjoying these selection's so far.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 13.

    'There is an argument that 'Slade in Flame' did their career no favors'

    Neither did the music they made after 1974. Still perhaps I am being unfair; I don't much like the music associated with their peak - the string of hits up to Merry Xmas Everybody (1973) - never mind what came after.

    Also, until today, I had never seen 'Slade in Flame'. I don't like it. I take the point that they are, perhaps bravely, 'lifting the velvet curtain' in a show of 'grit' and 'integrity' not seen in their musical contemporaries on screen. It isn't enough, though, to say "Look at this shot of poor midlands folk contemplating a river of turds in the rain - this is what it's really like when the stage lights go off". That noble gesture aside, I felt, that what is left is a film with few real characters (although Tom Conti lends some depth), some dodgy acting, some clichéd and quite tame 'gangster' fare, and not much of a story.

    Oh, and some glam rock songs by Slade. And yet not once throughout the entire film did someone yell "play Merry Xmas, you b*******". Realism my backside.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 14.

    Dear professor,
    A couple of years ago I heeded your call to arms and went out to track down a copy of Slade in Flame. Luckily I managed to find the special edition with sound track CD.
    Well what can I say; it has become one of my all-time favorite movies, what I love about Slade in Flame is that it captures the mid 1970’s as it was. The Smokey cafes and working mans clubs the grime of the streets and strangely the misguided optimism before that arrival of punk. I actually grew up around characters very similar to Stokers, Charlie’s, Paul and Barry’s brilliantly portrayed in the film. Were Slade really acting. “I don’t really care”. To me Slade in Flame isn’t really a rock and roll movie. It’s a slice of life from an era that has rarely been captured this honestly.
    To sum up, Slade in Flame is everything that movies like ‘That'll Be the Day and Stardust aspired to be and A hard day’s Night might have been. Like your good self-Professor I will continue to champion Slade in flame as I believe it’s a Gem that deserves a wider audience.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 15.

    Its not quite on a par with Cannon and Ball in 'The Boys in Blue'.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 16.

    I vote NAKED LUNCH for the next round...

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 17.

    Just finished watching it…. did someone give Ken Loach a roll of kitchen foil and a fuzzbox!?

    Yeah, actually it was surprisingly well crafted and pretty engaging for a mid seventies British 'pop' movie featuring Noddy (it's Christmasssssss!) Holder, Dave Hill, Jim Lea and Don Powell all attempting to act with varying degrees of success. I can honestly say that I really quite enjoyed it.

    It's been described as elsewhere as 'This Is Spinal Tap' crossed with 'Get Carter' and well there's humour in that comment, there's an odd truth in there somewhere to. I would be hard pressed to name any other 'pop' movie that painted, dare I say it, such a localised, realistic flavour to the darker side of the business of 'show' and the act as commodity.

    Its fair to say that plenty of bands have been treated badly by managers, agents and record labels over the course of their careers, but it's in focusing on this aspect, the manipulation for profit above all else, rather than the fame, rags to riches, working class heros cliche, that elevates 'Slade In Flame' to something interesting, unusual and, at least for me, a bit of a cult friendly viewing experience. I'd certainly watch it again.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 18.

    ….what next? perhaps a re-evaluation of another British classic 'The Monster Club'? :-)

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 19.

    Seems a bit early in the thread for suggestions about the next one but since a few (good) ideas have been thrown out there already....

    Dune. Yes I know we have already had some Lynch but I am going to keep suggesting it until it happens. Dune.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 20.

    All joking aside… I vote for 'The Lair Of The White Worm' next.

    I watched it again recently and there is much in it to admire. Unequal parts detective, Carry On and Hammer film. It's not top tier Russell by any stretch but it works! Most underrated Russell film, put it on the list Dr K.

 

Page 1 of 5

This entry is now closed for comments

Share this page

More Posts

Previous
Summer Blockbusters - Your Best and Worst

Tuesday 28 August 2012, 18:05

Next
Northern Lights

Tuesday 4 September 2012, 16:13

About this Blog

Outspoken, opinionated and never lost for words, Mark is the UK's leading film critic.

This twice-weekly video blog is the place where he airs his personal views on the things that most fire him up about cinema - and invites you to give your own opinions.

Blog Updates

Stay updated with the latest posts from the blog.

Subscribe using:

What are feeds?