2015, Movies

Danny Says (2015, Brendan Toller)

This is a fascinating documentary about a journalist/publicist/manager/etc. from New York who was tangentially involved in the careers of a number of major bands, from the Beatles to the Ramones. If you’re interested in the history of popular music, particularly punk, or if you’re interested in New York in the late 1960s and the 1970s, this may be of interest to you.

The film is about the life and times of Danny Fields. Like many documentaries that focus on the life and memories of a particular person, there is a bit of an unreliable narrator element. Though Iggy Pop and Jac Holzman and others appear to lead veracity to Fields’ memories, some of Fields’ own statements certainly suggest he either doesn’t have the most reliable memory or he likes to elaborate. (For example, at one point he claims The Doors’ first album came out in “1965 or 1966” which is factually incorrect and super easy to fact-check.)

But, as long as you are aware that he maybe isn’t always being entirely accurate, this is a fascinating life he’s had, with all sorts of stories about famous bands, as well as a little bit about Andy Warhol’s Factory. There are lots of good stories, even if some of them aren’t entirely true.

The film itself isn’t great – it’s full of different quality interviews and sound recordings (including phone calls), interspersed with talking head footage, archival footage (of concerts, films, etc.) and, seemingly at random, animation. I can get nitpicky when the style of documentary isn’t consistent and the style of this one feels a little hit or miss with me. There’s also definitely a “hipper than thou” vibe to Fields himself and some of the interviewees.

Also, this is one of those movies that is likely of no interest to anyone who doesn’t know or like these bands, or who is put off by the “naive” side of the avant garde.

But I enjoyed it and I’m glad I watched it. And it’s good to know about people like this, whether he’s exaggerated his role in these things or not.


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