John Lennon & Yoko Ono Filmography

This article is based upon Bill Harry's Lennon solo section of his "Beatlemania" book of the Beatles on film, it lists all known privately produced films and guest film appearances by John Lennon and Yoko Ono from the year in which they met, 1966, through to the close of their experimental period in 1972. Appearances that were recorded exclusively for Television by Television companies are not included in this section (see our John Lennon on Television page for those). Most of the video captures come courtesy of Bamiyan's Beatles on Video
For deatils of official Home-Video & DVD releases, see our Lennon/Ono on Home-Video & DVD page.


Eat The Document
John appears for less than a minute in Eat the Document, the film of Bob Dylan's European tour of April/May 1966 which was produced by D.A.Pennebaker. John's sequence was filmed on Friday 27th May 1966 in a limousine that was driving Dylan and Lennon from John's home in Weybridge to the Mayfair hotel in London. The raw footage, lasting for several minutes, shows them struggling to engage in coherent conversation "Bob forgot his lines again. Cut! Take that again, please. Sorry about that Bob, he looks so natural, but really, he's shaking I believe. Right, start again.....Well I hate to say this about Barry (Barry McGuire - who'd recently had a US chart topper with the risible protest song "Eve of destruction" ), Bob - Bobby, but I don't know him at all. But I did have a letter from his manager, saying he was very very close to you, being the sort of, apparent, bosom of the current folk-a-rock-a-boom, you know, at the moment...". Dylan ends the scene unwell and needing to vomit. The movie was premiered in New York on 8th February 1967 but this 54-minute version was not on general release until 1972.


How I Won The War
In 1966, following his work with the Beatles on A Hard Day's Night and Help!, director Richard Lester began to work on an anti-war satire called How I Won The War, based on Patrick Ryan's novel. Charles Wood wrote the screenplay which concerned the adventures of a group of young soldiers of the Third Troop of the Fourth Musketeers during World War II. Lester offered the part of Private Gripweed to John and he accepted.

The Musketeers are involved in the fighting in North Africa, Dunkirk, Dieppe and Arnhem and are led by an incompetent officer Lieutenant Ernest Goodbody, played by Michael Crawford. The other Musketeers included Sergeant Transom (Lee Montague), Corporal Dooley (Ewan Hooper), Private Drogue (James Cossins), Private Clapper (Roy Kinnear, who also appeared in Help!) and Private Juniper (Ronald Lacey). They are engaged in numerous pointless missions during the hostilities; The objective of one venture behind enemy lines is merely to set up a cricket pitch (which never gets used), and one of their few successful sorties results in a British plane being shot down. When all his men have been killed, Goodbody sets off on his final objective, to secure a bridge, and ends up buying it from the German officer commanding the position. During the course of the film, the Musketeers are killed off one by one; Gripweed dies a particularly gory death when he is blown to smithereens by a shell fired from a German tank.

John had filmed his sequences in Celle, West Germany between Tuesday 6th - Wednesday 14th September 1966 and in Carboneras, Spain between Monday 19th September and Sunday 6th November 1966, with post production audio dubbing carried out in Twickenham, England from February 11th to March 3rd 1967. Commenting on why he selected John for the role, Lester said: "I have a very high regard for the Beatles. It just happens that we thought this part was something that John would enjoy doing, and that he could do well. I consider Lennon an extraordinarily Intelligent man. I don't mean that lightly. I've known perhaps two or three people in a lifetime who could compare with him in intelligence. Furthermore, he's a born entertainer. All this highly qualifies him as an actor. And if he wishes to act, of course, he's bound to get better. He could be a very fine actor if he's willing to go ahead. It's a question of practice and willingness.". But the film proved to be John's final foray into the world of serious acting.

How I Won The War was premiered at the London Pavilion on 18th October 1967, but although it received moderately encouraging reviews, British distributors felt that it would not appeal to mass audiences and it was not given a proper circuit release. This must have disappointed Lester in particular who was especially committed to the movie. He commented: "I believe I have made a genuinely pacifist film. It is an anti-war film, of course, but it is also a film against war films. I wanted to show war without kicks, the opposite of the conventional tank opera. There is no single statement in it that I do not believe to be to the right purpose. I am totally responsible and, if it goes wrong, there is only me to blame, But if I fell under a bus tomorrow, this is the film I'd want to be judged by".

British Television broadcasts:
The film was first shown on ITV in 1972 but only in the Yorkshire region who broadcast it on 1st December (10:30pm-12:30am), Border were next to show it on 14th September 1973 (10:30pm-12:35am), then Granada (the North West ITV station) screened it on 7th December 1973 (11pm-12:55am), Grampian showed it on 22nd June 1974 (10:30pm-12:30am), LWT on 3rd August 1974 (10:30pm-12:30am), Anglia on 8th September 1974 (7:55-10pm), HTV on 28th December 1974 (9:45-11:45pm), ATV Midlands on 2nd August 1975 (10:30-11:22pm), Channel [Islands] on 3rd April 1978 (10:50pm-12:45am) and HTV for a 2nd time on 10th July 1978 (10:35pm-12:35am), it was not seen again until the BBC bought the rights and broadcast it on BBC1 on Friday 12th September 1986 (11:38pm-01:23am).


Yoko Ono (1965-67)

Satan's Bed
Around the time the Beatles filmed Help!, Yoko was given a part in this sleazy adults-only S+M drug movie by Roberta and Michael Findlay (SNUFF). Michael was the photographer and editor, Roberta acted and was responsible for the lighting. Satan's Bed was actually an updated version of an earlier unfinished feature called Judas City by Tamijian with the new footage and characters edited in. Interwoven with the Judas City scenes is the tale of Snake, Dip and Angel, addicts in black clothes, they roam around tying up women and raping them. Yoko (in a kimono) shows up in New York to marry Paulie, who wants out of the drug business, she can't speak English and he is preoccupied, so she's taken to a cheap hotel room where a gangster rapes her on the floor (off screen), he then takes her to his penthouse and rapes her again.  Finally a Long Island housewife with a gun escapes from the doped up trio and footage of Yoko escaping is intercut.
 

One
Yoko had begun making minimalist films in New York as a member of a group of conceptual artists called Fluxus. One was a five-minute short which featured a slow-motion sequence of a match being struck.

Four
Four was another five-minute short which this time featured close-up studies of 15 bare bottoms in motion as they walked on a treadmill, the subjects of the film included Yoko, her husband Tony Cox and their daughter Kyoko. It was premiered at the Film-Maker's Cinematheque, New York on 6th February 1966.

Bottoms
1967 was the year in which Yoko Ono first hit the headlines in Britain and it was there that she made a longer re-make of Four, more commonly known as "Bottoms". Yoko asked 364 people associated with the swinging London scene to expose their backsides for the film which was produced by Tony Cox, this version also included a soundtrack (interviews with the subjects). It was premiered at the Jacey Tatler Cinema in London on 8th August 1967.


The 14-Hour Technicolor Dream
The happening of all 1960's happenings in England was the The 14-hour Technicolor Dream in London which took place on 29th April 1967, John was the sole Beatle tuned in that night to feel the call of the vibrations. Peter Whitehead was filming the event for inclusion in his "Tonite Let's All Make Love in London" movie and caught sight of John for a couple of brief scenes that eventually found their way into a Home Video entitled 'Pink Floyd London 66-67' released in 1994. The "Man Alive" BBC TV documentary series also recorded the event, "What is a Happening?" was shown on BBC2 on 17th May 1967. Joe Cushley recalled the event for Mojo Magazine in 2002.....

April 29th 1967 was the night that the freaks came out to play, some 10,000 of them descended on the Alexandra Palace in sleepy North London to experience a swarm of bands, including The Move, Pretty Things, Soft Machine, The Creation. There were poets, dance troupes and visual artists too, such as the Binder, the Edwards and Vaughan team who customised Lennon's Roller. There were films, light shows and, of course, 'happenings’.
Many revellers discovered for the first time that they weren't the only ones to find 'straight' life in ’60s Britain a trifle stifling.
The 'Ally Pally' was an appropriate venue for such multifarious goings-on, Built in 1873 and dubbed The People's Palace, it boasted a library, funfair, concert halls, art galleries, and 196 acres of park. This combination of arts, rural Arcadia and Victorian amusement arcade chimed sweetly, if slightly ironically, with many interests of the '60s underground and its’ favourite musicians, Strawberry Fields was in the charts, The Beatles had just recorded their paean to 19th century circus acts Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite, while event headliners The Pink Floyd were also at Abbey Road making their pan-galactic pastoral masterpiece The Piper at The Gates Of Dawn. And, after all, Lewis Carroll was both Queen Victoria and Lennon's favourite author.
John Hopkins (“Hoppy") founder of both the underground newspaper IT and the pioneering music venue UFO takes up the story......"I conjured up the title and we billed it as a 'Free Speech Benefit'. There were two middle-aged gents in tweeds at the Ally Pally. We agreed a date and a fee - which I don't think ever got paid, but don't tell on me! That was the easy part.". Rumours abounded that The Beatles would top the bill, but John was the only Fab to bowl up on the day. He was accompanied by Indica gallery co-owner John Dunbar and chauffeur TerryDoran. How ever, the artist - Yoko Ono - to whom Dunbar had introduced Lennon the previous November was appearing, though, contrary to some reports, they did not meet at 'the Dream' . Until early evening on the April 29, John was at home in Weybridge ingesting Owsleys and cocaine with Dunbar, who recalls...well, very little, unsurprisingly "We saw something on the television about the event. So we thought fuck it, let's go, I remember bumping into Denny Laine, who'd lost his band, and the stars behaving like fireworks. And everyone was looking at us because it was John. Was Yoko there? I don't remember that."
Filmmaker Peter Whitehead's footage of the event shows the granny-glassed, Afghan-jacketed Lennon going about relatively unaccosted. Mick Farren - IT editor, UFO doorman and leader of the opening act, The Social Deviants - agrees that “a lot of the hippies were like, 'No Beatlemania here, dear'“, he makes an intriguing further observation of Lennon's visit. There were two stages in the hall, and bands played simultaneously, somewhere in the middle the sounds met. “I swear I saw Lennon standing in the zone of dissonance," he recalls, "moving forward and back looking quite fascinated." Joe Beard of The Purple Gang, who also played that night, saw Lennon sitting and smoking in the park a little later, but the entourage didn't stay to see Pink Floyd, and the next day they decided to go and visit an island for sale off the Irish coast.


Smile
John and Yoko's film partnership began as spring became summer in 1968, shooting two films in a single afternoon in the garden of John's house 'Kenwood' in Weybridge.
The first film opens with a series of white caption cards with black lettering; "FILM NO.5 by YOKO ONO" / "STARRING JOHN LENNON" / "Camera: WILLIAM WAREING    Sound: JOHN LENNON    Light: GARDEN" / "MUSIC by JOHN LENNON  Instruction: bring your own instrument." / "PRODUCED by APPLE FILMS". What follows is a super slow motion 52 minute portrait of John's face in varying states of expression. A special high-speed camera had been used to film John sticking out his tongue, wiggling his eyebrows and breaking out into fleeting smiles as it captured 20,000 frames per minute, the soundtrack was provided by the background noise in Weybridge. Yoko had initially considered making Number 5 four hours long, but this was considered impractical. Even at just under 1 hour's length, it was considered overlong by most members of the audience at the film's screening at the 1968 Chicago Film Festival and after thirty minutes, more than half the audience had left the cinema. Film no.5 has since become better known as Smile.


Two Virgins
The second John & Yoko collaboration again opens with a series of caption cards spelling out..... "TWO VIRGINS by JOHN LENNON and YOKO ONO"..... "STARRING JOHN LENNON and YOKO ONO"...... "CAMERA: WILLIAM WAREING"...... "MUSIC by JOHN LENNON and YOKO ONO"...... and finally "PRODUCED by APPLE FILMS". Slow-motion was again employed, this time to reveal John and Yoko's faces superimposed and fusing together and then separating before the action switches to the couple kissing and embracing. John & Yoko's album of the same name provided the soundtrack.

Some home movie footage of John sat around the house, walking around his swimming pool and playing guitar was also shot on the same day.


You Are Here
You Are Here was John's first full art exhibition that opened on the 1st July 1968 at the Robert Fraser Gallery in London. John marked the opening with the release of 365 helium filled balloons. Various activities on this day and the preparation the day before were captured on film, though in what form (if any) the footage was shown in 1968 is not known.
 
 
 
 


Rape
In November 1968 work began on one of one of John & Yoko's most ambitious film ventures, a 75-minute mini-feature called Rape. It starred Eva Majlata, a 21 year old Hungarian actress who couldn't speak English. She cannot escape the prying attentions of the camera which follows her around the streets of London, through a park, allowing her no privacy and almost causing her to walk into the path of a truck. She attempts to escape in a taxi, but is still followed. She is eventually cornered in an apartment from which she apparently cannot escape and her tearful pleas to the camera remain ignored. Rape was shot when John and Yoko were both at Great Charlotte Street Hospital following Yoko's miscarriage, the cameraman was Nick Knowland.

The film received its world premiere on Austrian Television on 31st March 1969. That year it was also shown at the Montreux Television Festival and the Mannheim Film Festival. A day after the Austrian TV broadcast John and Yoko held a press conference in Vienna. John commented: "We are showing how all of us are exposed and under pressure in our contemporary world. This isn't just about the Beatles. What is happening to this girl on the screen is happening in Biafra, Vietnam, everywhere." The theme of the relentless, clinical camera lens, 'raping' the privacy of individuals or groups for the entertainment of the viewing public intrigued critic Willie Frischauer, who wrote in the Evening Standard; "This film does for the age of television what Franz Kafka's The Trial did for the age of totalitarianism."


The Rolling Stones Rock And Roll Circus
Taped to completion on the night of Wednesday/Thursday 11/12th December 1968, the Rolling Stones' 50 minute colour special included guest performances by Jethro Tull, The Who, Marianne Faithfull, Taj Mahal and John & Yoko backed by Eric Clapton (lead guitarist with the recently disbanded Cream), Keith Richards (the Rolling Stones lead guitarist switching to bass), Mitch Mitchell (drummer with The Jimi Hendrix Experience) and violinist Ivry Gitlist. John sang "Yer Blues", Yoko then did "Her Blues". John could also be seen chatting with Mick Jagger, grooving with the audience and introducing the Rolling Stones section (the latter sequence was filmed at Apple studio in January 1969). Despite the enthusiasm from everyone who saw it, the Rolling Stones were dissatisfied with the standard of their own performance as well as being unable to resolve a dispute over how much the band would receive in payment and it was decided not to release the film.


Yoko And Me
This short colour offering was shot around the 15th December 1968, it appears to have been filmed at 'Kenwood'* which had just been put up for sale. Scenes include Yoko talking about her art whilst John is sat playing acoustic guitar, and out in the garden John & Yoko are seen singing "Everybody had a hard year" with the cameraman walking towards them with John then pointing directly into the lens; "Surprise, Surprise"

*John and Yoko were temporarily living at Ringo's former home 'Sunny Heights' in Weybridge around this time.


Diaries, Notes And Sketches
During 1969, John appeared in a documentary film, Diaries, Notes and Sketches, by fellow experimental film maker Jonas Mekas. The movie was initially several hours long but later divided into several parts. The Lithuanian born Mekas intercut interviews with a number of celebrities with a range of unusual images. The celebrities involved, apart from John, were Nico, the Velvet Underground, the Fugs, Allen Ginsberg and Andy Warhol.


The Ballad Of John And Yoko
In May 1969, John's first 'A' side single release in almost two years spawned this promotional film which consisted of various shots of rather bored looking Beatles at the January 1969 Twickenham film studio rehearsals, interwoven with the much happier looking subjects of the song filmed at various locations in March/April. The single and promotional film were released during the second bed-in event with many US Radio and TV stations banning it, deeming the use of the word 'Christ' to be blasphemous.


Mr. & Mrs. Lennon's Honeymoon
Unable to marry in Paris, John and Yoko were eventually wed in Gibraltar on the 20th March 1969, from there they swiftly returned to Paris and on 24th March they were reported to have had lunch with the Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali. The following day the Lennons began a week long 'stay in bed' protest for peace in Room 902 of the Amsterdam Hilton in Holland. Film director Peter Goessens produced a colour 40 minute film of the 'bed-in' event which was pretty much a visual version of the Amsterdam track on John & Yoko's Wedding Album, the film begins with a montage of everyday scenes shot in and around the city intercut with snippets of John & Yoko singing "Hair Peace, Bed Peace" followed by lengthy sequences of the couple asleep, waking up and reading the newspapers. The latter half of the film is more coherent and interesting with John talking to camera and being interviewed (including a chat with the cynical Daily Mirror journalist Donald Zec). Little of the film has been seen since and it has yet to be made commercially available, probably because the 2nd bed-in event held in Montreal yielded much better results.....


The Bed In
John and Yoko's second and final seven day bed-in for peace took place in Montreal, Canada from Monday 26th May 1969. This time the event was filmed by John & Yoko's own film crew for a fascinating full-length feature. The Lennons had initially intended to bring their peace campaign to the USA, but President Richard Nixon's immigration officials refused John's request for an entry visa, prompting John to declare "It's easier to get into Russia than the US". With the Bahamas considered too hot to stay in bed for such length, Montreal was chosen instead because of its close proximity to the United States border.

In the weeks preceding the event, Harvard students had gone on strike against university complicity in the Vietnam war and in Berkeley people challenged private property rights by creating a communal park in a vacant lot owned by the university of California - The university officials called the police to clear and destroy the park, a force of almost 800 police moved in on 6,000 demonstrators, killing one, blinding another and injuring over a hundred. John was filmed talking to the local radio station via phone giving his support to the Berkeley demonstrators and meeting various 'radicals' to discuss their ideas and thoughts on the promotion of  peace to the masses who still put their trust in the violent establishment. Footage also included the live recording of Give Peace A Chance and this segment was released as a promotional film for the July 1969 single.

The movie was eventually completed in February 1970 with a now short haired John and Yoko appearing in the closing credits, yet tragically the film was never publicly shown until it was released on home-video (in edited form) twenty years later.

A Canadian TV special filmed during the event was broadcast in 1969 as part of the documentary series The Way It Is. (See John Lennon on Television)


Self Portrait
John and Yoko were still involved with their own "home movies" and produced Self Portrait which was a slow-motion sequence of John's penis in a semi erect state. The film was 42 minutes long and was premiered at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London in September 1969. Two years later John recalled the film on a BBC television interview with Michael Parkinson; "That was a joke really. I made a film called 'Self Portrait', you know, and at that time I was a bit of a prick!". Yoko had said "The critics wouldn't touch it"


Sweet Toronto
On 13th September 1969 D.A Pennebaker filmed the Toronto Rock 'N' Roll Revival Festival and his 140-minute film was released 12 months later in 1970. John and Yoko appeared with Eric Clapton, Klaus Voorman and Alan White as the Plastic Ono Band for their debut live performance. After a few screenings, business entanglements got in the way and the film had to be re-edited and reissued (as Keep On Rockin') with the Plastic Ono Band scenes excised and replaced with some footage of Jimi Hendrix (this was from a different gig, he did not play at the Rock 'n' Roll Revival gig). For many years it was rumoured that the John and Yoko footage had been removed because of negative reaction to Yoko's numbers, but this was not the case.
Read Mal Evans account of the show here
 


Cold Turkey
Underground film-maker Jonas Mekas had produced a montage of rapid paced film snippets that he had shot during the Montreal Bed-in which he then sent to John and Yoko instructing them to watch whilst playing "Give Peace A Chance". They decided to use this as the basis for a promotional film for John's October 1969 single "Cold Turkey", dropping in scenes (in negative form) from the September 1969 Toronto performance.


Apotheosis / Apotheosis 2
The first version of Apotheosis, filmed in September 1969 from a helicopter, had proven unsatisfactory and so a re-make was attempted on Friday 5th December 1969. With the BBCtv World of John & Yoko documentary crew in tow, the Lennons were driven through the snow covered countryside to Lavenham in Suffolk where, hunched together and peeking out from under long black capes, they looked on as a hot air balloon was inflated and launched from the Market square. On board was their ever reliable film cameraman Nick Knowland to capture the views.
 
 


Lyceum Ballroom Concert
Some mute film of John & Yoko performing Cold Turkey and Don't Worry Kyoko with a Plastic Ono Band line-up (including George Harrison) at the Lyceum Ballroom in London on 15th December 1969 was captured for a British Movietone cinema newsreel.


Dynamite Chicken
An American colour film directed by Ernest Pintoff which would not see release until 1971. John and Yoko were filmed discussing bed-ins for peace in December 1969. Described as a "multi-media mosaic" this 76 minute movie contained glimpses of scores of personalities ranging from the famous (Jimi Hendrix, Malcom X, Ninan Simone, Richard Pryor etc.) to the less well known such as Sister Feonna the stripping nun!


Hanratty Film
On Side One of John & Yoko's "Live Jam" album (recorded on 15th December 1969) Yoko can be heard to shout "Britain, you killed Hanratty you murderer!", she then chants Hanratty's name throughout the opening bars of Don't Worry Kyoko. Back in 1962, James Hanratty was convicted and sentenced to death for the notorious A6 road murder of Michael Gregsten and the rape of his lover Valerie Storie who was also shot and left for dead (she survived but was paralysed from the neck down). Hanratty was one of the last British citizens to be executed by the state before the death penalty in Britain was suspended in 1965. As the decade progressed, the view that Hanratty had in fact been the victim of a gross miscarriage of justice began to gather momentum, another man was even seen to confess to the murder on British Television in 1967. Together with Hanratty's parents, John and Yoko discussed the idea of making a film to back the campaign for an enquiry and this was announced at an Apple press conference on December 10th 1969. The one and only public screening of the 40-minute colour result was eventually shown in the crypt of St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church, London on 17th February 1972.
29 years later DNA evidence from the exhumed body of Hanratty was said to prove that he DID commit the murder, although it has been argued that the retained evidence may have been cross contaminated in storage.


John & Kyoko Bathroom Film
According to Apple Executive Director Peter Brown, the Lennon's made a film of Yoko's 7 year old daughter Kyoko and John bathing nude together in the same tub, Kyoko's father Tony Cox was reportedly furious when he found out about it and this was said to be the reason he vowed never to let John and Yoko get near his daughter again. However, the truth appears to be that it was actually Cox who captured the scene via one of the many video cameras he had apparently set up around his farmhouse in Denmark and he later made use of the footage during a custody hearing in December 1971.


3 Days In The Life
Tony Cox shot over 9 hours worth of black and white videotape depicting a shorn haired John and Yoko at work and at play over a four day period during early February 1970. Footage includes a meeting with the leader of the British Black Power movement Michael X, a tour of London with John as the guide and Lennon perched on the end of a bed with guitar performing an early version of what would, three years later, become the song “Mind games”.
Click the image for further screen grabs and information.
 


Up Your Legs
Whilst in New York in early December 1970, keen to include some new material in a festival of their films that Jonas Mekas had arranged for the Elgin Theatre, John and Yoko made two films - Up Your Legs and Fly.
Shot over two days, Up Your Legs was 80 minutes long and featured over 300 pairs of legs, photographed from the toes up to the top of the thighs. "We asked everybody to donate their legs for peace" said Yoko, and a host of celebrities obliged, including George Segal, Larry Rivers and D.A Pennebaker. The film ends with the Lennons showing their bare behinds.
 


Fly
Fly was 19 minutes in length and, as with Up Your Legs, took two days to film in a New York attic. Although only one person was filmed, in contrast to the 331 gathered for the Legs film, Fly was a more complicated project. John and Yoko asked New York actress Virginia Lust to lie down naked whilst they filmed a fly exploring her body. Approximately 200 flies were used and each had to be stunned with a special gas. The film showed a fly traversing the girl's body from her toes to her head, exploring every part. It was claimed that Virginia Lust also had to be sedated during the filming.

Further filming of the Lennon's also took place during this period in the Bowery, rare footage includes John playing guitar.


Live At The Fillmore East With Frank Zappa
A single colour 16mm film camera captured the Lennon's guest appearance at Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention's gig at the Fillmore in New York on Sunday 6th June 1971. An audio recording found its' way onto the 1972 Some Time In New York City album.


Your Show (aka Working Class Hero)
There were, of course, plans for films that were never made or left uncompleted. During early summer 1971, a great deal of film was shot for a proposed movie called Your Show or Working Class Hero, over 35 hours worth of colour film captured the recording of the LP Imagine. John had intended the film to be edited into a Television special for screening in America, but Allen Klein dissuaded him, suggesting he needed something more polished.


Imagine
Perhaps John and Yoko's best known film production was their 70 minute colour film Imagine. The couple used over 40,000 feet of film in making this visual promotion for their Autumn 1971 released albums Imagine and Fly. They were filmed together in various scenes, mainly set around Tittenhurst Park in Ascot, England and mostly shot there on; Wednesday 21st July 1971 (The boat to the island scene and the surreal version of Chess) , Thursday 22nd July (Scenes in the early morning mist, singing 'Imagine' and the album artwork photo shoot) and Friday 23rd July (Going to the toilet, in the bath together). Other footage included the early summer studio activity and a July 6th party shot by Jonas Mekas at Allen Klein's home in New York where he, John & Yoko and various stars including Jazz trumpet genius Miles Davis, celebrated the conclusion of the Imagine album recording sessions. On July 15th the Lennons were filmed signing copies of Yoko's recently re-published book of verse Grapefruit. Further filming took place on the August 11th demo for OZ magazine, and there were various other scenes shot in England and New York during that summer. The movie was eventually premiered on American television on 23rd December 1972 by which time both albums had been available for over a year.

The running order for the original film was Imagine (this sequence shows John and Yoko walking in the mist to their front door, John is then seen playing the song on his white piano in a white room as Yoko opens the blinds), Crippled Inside (John sat posing for a photographer in the garden plus 6th July 1971 party footage), Jealous Guy (Helicopter views of John & Yoko being picked up by a car outside their home which then drives them to the lake where they get into a small boat, John then rows them to an island in the middle of the lake on which there is a small summer house), Don't Count The Waves (now inside the summer house John and Yoko are playing an interesting variation of chess in which all the pieces and squares are white, Yoko reveals her stockinged right leg and begins to place some of the pieces down her cleavage, John responds by eating his pieces), It's So Hard (a man walking down a high street in a black bag / John in the bathroom polishing a glass box / Yoko in the corridor listening at the door), Mrs. Lennon (various shots of Yoko including a slow motion film of her crying / Yoko whispering in John's ear / John and Yoko sat on a bench by the sea / trying to find oneanother in the fog / writing in the sand), I Don't Wanna Be A Soldier Mama (John and Yoko looking around New York and tuning in to the pulse of the city through stethoscopes / Yoko whispering to John who then passes the message on to a sleeping man on a park bench / waltzing together past onlookers / footage of war and demonstration riots / Yoko pretending to be a 'streetwalker' and John a client), St Regis Hotel sequence (Yoko walks arm in arm to look out of a hotel window with various different people, including Fred Astaire and George Harrison, accompanied by music that apparently reflects the personality of the participant), Mind Train (this was cut from the video release, John slowly removes one of Yoko's shoes and then sniffs it), Give Me Some Truth (a short burst of Power to the People precedes this segment which shows John and Yoko on a protest march / signing copies of Yoko's book / John recording the vocal track), Midsummer New York (cut from the video release, John and Yoko are seen sat by some large revolving orange circles), Oh My Love (on holiday in Japan), How Do You Sleep? (blindfolded John playing pool joined by Yoko in hot pants / animated bat flying over Tittenhurst), How? (returning from the island on the boat as a young woman climbs into the house and deposits a dropper pipette full of liquid into what looks like a sponge or cake), Oh Yoko! (John pruning Yoko / photo shoot / various shots of Yoko) John And Yoko (a new version of the Wedding Album track, John and Yoko are seen running towards eachother on the beach, then credits as they walk to the sea).


Freedom Films
Two one-minute films that were added to the bill at the 1971 Chicago Film Festival. They were called "Freedom Films"; the first, shot in 1970, shows Yoko taking off her bra and throwing it away with a two note soundtrack provided by John on electric keyboards, the other featured the word "Freedom", which John had scratched directly on to a piece of film.


Erection
Erection, unlike Self Portrait, has nothing to do with John's phallus. It is a 19-minute film showing the gradual construction of the International Hotel at 147 Cromwell Road in London. A stills camera had been placed in a set position and shots were taken over a period of eighteen months. When the film is shown, the building seems to arise before the viewers' eyes.


Clock
Clock was a one-hour study of a clock face shot in the lobby of the St Regis Hotel in September 1971. The Lennon's were staying there having just left England for the final time. The soundtrack, by John, included September 10th recorded acoustic versions of various Rock and Roll standards.


John's Birthday
A film of John's 31st birthday party shot by Jonas Mekas which shows him jamming along with guests including George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Phil Spector and Allen Ginsberg.


This Is Not Here
Yoko staged an art show at the Everson Museum, Syracuse, New York that ran from October 9th-27th 1971, it was a ten year retrospective of her work entitled This is not here. Takahiko Iimura produced an 18 minute film of the event. Visitors on the opening day included Ringo Starr, Allen Klein, Dick Cavett, Bob Dylan, John Cage, Dennis Hopper, Spike Milligan, Andy Warhol, Jack Nicholson and Frank Zappa.


The Museum Of Modern Art Show
A 7 minute film of Yoko's non-existent fly exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Yoko advertised the happening in the Village Voice and produced a catalogue for which Iain MacMillan photographed flies inside a tent which were then superimposed onto various New York scenes and landmarks. The film is comprised of interviews with people leaving the museum who are asked what they thought of the "show". Staff who worked at the museum apparently knew nothing about it and were not amused. See this link for more information.

*Note:- Both Bill Harry’s “John Lennon Encyclopaedia” and Keith Badman’s “Beatles - After the Break Up” volumes erroneously refer to this film as being about the Everson show.  Thanks to Kevin Concannon for correcting this information.


The Irish Tapes
On Friday 12th November 1971 John and Yoko recorded several demo's of the new composition "Luck of the Irish" at their Bank Street apartment. A 17 minute monochrome videotape recording was made by John Reilly which included some discussion as well as performances of the song. Reilly together with Stefan Moore was producing a film with a pro-IRA slant and was supported financially by John and Yoko. It should be added that this was before the IRA began their bombing campaign in mainland Britain.


Ten For Two
Ten For Two was a 78 minute 16mm film of the "John Sinclair Freedom Rally" which took place at the Crisler Arena in the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor on Friday 10th December 1971 (John and Yoko actually appeared in the early hours of the 11th). The concert was in aid of the founder of the White Panther movement who had been jailed for ten years for possession of just two marijuana joints.
John and Yoko, backed by Jerry Rubin, David Peel and the Lower East Side, performed an acoustic set consisting of just four songs: Attica state, The Luck Of The Irish, Sisters O Sisters and John Sinclair (John played dobro on the final track). Sinclair was released 3 days after the concert.
The event was televised locally at the time and the 'Joko' produced film, directed by Steve Gebhart and including contributions from Bobby Seale, Allen Ginsburg, Jerry Rubin and John Dellinger, was only shown in Ann Arbor (a full year later) to avoid problems with John's deportation order.


Apollo, Harlem Gig
On Friday December 17th 1971, one week after the Ann Arbor appearance, John and Yoko backed by Jerry Rubin, Chris Osborne and Eddie Mottau performed at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, New York in a benefit gig for the families of the victims of the riot at New York's Attica State Prison. A 16mm colour film captured acoustic versions of Imagine, Attica State and Yoko's Sisters O Sisters.


The One To One Concert
The One to One concerts took place at Madison Square Garden in New York on 30th August 1972. The event was in aid of a local charity, the Willowbrook Handicapped Children's Home. John and Yoko (backed by Elephant's Memory) were the main attraction at both shows (afternoon and evening), they performed New York City, It's So Hard, Move On Fast, Woman Is The Nigger Of The World, Sisters, O Sisters, Well Well Well, Born In A Prison, Instant Karma!, Mother, We're All Water, Come Together, Imagine, Open Your Box, Cold Turkey, Don't Worry Kyoko and Hound Dog. The evening performance dropped Don't Worry Kyoko but added Give Peace A Chance as an encore in which they were joined on stage by the other artists on the bill (Sha Na Na, Stevie Wonder and Roberta Flack).
The film, The One To One Concert, utilized performances from the evening concert (six of John's numbers, one of Yoko's and the encore - tracks from the supporting artists were also included), it was produced by Joko Films and directed by Steve Gebhardt with Bob Fries and Phil Spector overseeing the soundtrack. ABC in the US broadcast the film on 14th December 1972 as part of their In Concert series with FM Radio simulcasts being aired in many cities as well.


Oh Calcutta
1972 also saw the release of the film version of Oh Calcutta, Kenneth Tynan's controversial and irreverent sex revue, which contained full frontal nudity and four-letter words. The movie was 100 minutes long and was directed by Jacques Levy. John had originally written a sketch for the 1969 stage version of the show at the invitation of Tynan, and this was included in the film. His sketch "Four in hand" concerned group masturbation and was based on Lennon's own teenage experiences. Tynan decided not to follow John's suggestion that the actors should actually masturbate on stage!



Postscript:
One further notable film of John and Yoko was made after 1972:- Five days of Double Fantasy sessions were captured on videotape beginning on 18th August 1980 but little has been seen of it since.

A posthumous rockumentary movie on the life of Lennon entitled "Imagine: John Lennon" (utilizing footage from many of the items listed above) was premiered on October 6th 1988 and first screened on British television by BBC2 on Wednesday 27th December 1991 (albeit in slightly edited form 10:56pm-00:34am), BBC1 repeated it in the early hours of 7th October 1994 and a BBC2 repeat occurred during the first few hours of New Years Day 1996.

A 2nd documentary movie initially playing in cinema's was "The U.S. vs. John Lennon" which concentrated on Lennon's 'radical' period and was premiered in the USA in September 2006, it was first screened on free-to-air British television by BBC2 under the 'Arena' banner on Friday 30th March 2007 (11:35pm-01:10am).


This page is based upon Bill Harry's "John's films" section of his 1984 Virgin books volume "Beatlemania", with additional material and corrections  from books by Mark Lewisohn, Keith Badman, Pieper & Path, Madinger & Easter and Jon Wiener.
Thanks to Sari Guerney for her input and also to 'Bill' for "Satan's Bed".
Video captures courtesy of Bamiyan .

Page last updated December 2013
 
 

See also :-
Television Appearances
Home-Video and DVD


 

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