Review of "Tommy"

David Terr

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"Tommy" is a bizarre cult film from the ‘70s based on the rock opera of the same name by The Who. Although many people disagree, I think “Tommy" is a great film, both for its music and its unusual storyline.

The film concerns the life of Tommy, a boy born in England in 1945, the day World War II ends. His father, Captain Walker, had been a fighter pilot in the war and his plane had been shot down, so he is presumed dead. His mother Nora (Ann-Margret) raises Tommy by herself until he's five, when she meets and falls in love with Bernie (Oliver Reed), owner of a holiday camp.

One night Captain Walker returns home unexpectedly to greet Tommy. After catching his wife with Frank, they get into a fight and Frank and Nora end up killing Captain Walker. Tommy had wandered into the room to witness this confrontation, whence Bernie and Nora tell him repeatedly, “You didn't see it, you didn't hear it, you won't say nothing to no one every in you life!" After this, Tommy becomes blind, deaf, and dumb.

For the next several years, Tommy's parents and relatives try various bizarre means to cure him, including sending him to a wild Acid Queen played by Tina Turner who gets him high and leaving him with his sadistic Cousin Kevin and Uncle Ernie. Eventually they leave Tommy by himself one night. Tommy wanders into a junkyard, discovers a pinball machine, and ends up playing it all night. Next thing, he becomes the Pinball Wizard, earning millions for his family and gaining a huge cult following. But he's still blind, deaf, and dumb.

Frank and Nora find a doctor who determines that Tommy's illness is in his head. Nora tries to reach out to Tommy. Eventually she smashes a mirror he gazes into, which cures him. Tommy then becomes a cult leader and his fans join his congregation. Tommy starts a holiday camp in which he tells his congregation to wear earplugs, eyeshades, place a cork in their mouth and play pinball. At first they go along with him but shortly thereafter they revolt, killing his parents, burning down his house, and abandoning him.

Tommy wanders helplessly and eventually sees the light. The movie ends with him climbing a mountain and watching the sun go down.

Tommy - Dave's Top Movies


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