DANNY SAYS (director/writer: Brendan Toller; cinematographer: Brendan Toller; editors: Brendan Toller/Ian Markiewicz/Tim Sternberg; music: Henri Scars Struck; cast: Justin Bond, Mx Justin Vivian Bond, Judy Collins, Alice Cooper, Edie Sedgwick, Danny Fields; Runtime: 103; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Pamela Lubell; Magnolia; 2015)
“The title lifted from a Ramones song.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The title lifted from a Ramones song, a group managed by the doc’s subject, the now 77-year-old Danny Fields. Director Brendan Toller (“I Need That Record!”) drops a ton of pop culture iconic New York names from the 1960s and 1970s to tell the story of the Brooklyn-born Harvard Law School drop-out, Danny Fields, who was influential in the avant-garde music scene. The unfocused documentary chronicles his start as a rock journalist in NYC, his meetings with Nico, Edie Sedgwick, Linda Eastman (a.k.a. Linda McCartney), Iggy Pop, Andy Warhol, Jim Morrison and many other celebs or rockers. He would move on from a publicist at Elektra to manage groundbreaking artists such as the Stooges, the MC5 and the Ramones. There are long interviews with Alice Cooper and a giggly expansive Iggy Pop, plus a shot of Leonard Cohen performing with the always classy Judy Collins. Through use of archive photos and footage we travel back in time to the Big Apple in-spots such as Warhol’s Factory and Max’s Kansas City, where Danny engages with the Velvet Underground and other flashy rockers. The free-spirited Danny tells us without any inhibitions about his gay affairs, his regular drug intake and stories on the rock stars he encountered. That includes one on the wild-eyed Morrison getting stoned on large amounts of acid while under his charge on orders from the studio, of how he managed to get in one day record contracts for both MC 5 and the Stooges, how he talked Elektra into putting out an album by Greenwich Village park troubadour David Peel on being pro marijuana (the first such by a major label, that sold 600,000 copies), how he caused a firestorm by publicizing John Lennon’s “bigger than Jesus” quote in a teen magazine and how he refused big money to be part of Aerosmith — a group he hated for being commercial. I found his stories losing some luster the more they were emboldened. But his record of those revolutionary days in the streets of America and in the music business, are worth taking in if you’re a young or old rock fan. Anyhow, Danny credits his success to good taste, having the right friends and not selling out.
REVIEWED ON 11/9/2016 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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