by Jim Ridley
To the great delight of snickering classical-music students and connoisseurs of cinematic extremity, Warner Archives has just released Lisztomania, regarded as the most unhinged of the late Ken Russell's attempts to play pigeon with the busts of great composers.
Taking off from recorded phenomena — the purported seizures of ecstasy that seized Franz Liszt's most ardent fans — Russell devises a kind of 19th century Rocky Horror Picture Show with Roger Daltrey as Liszt beset by a vampiric Wagner, nude Rhinemaidens worshiping a phallic Maypole, a pipe-organ rocketship, and a Nazi Frankenstein monster with a machine-gun guitar and Hitler mustache. For verisimilitude, there's Ringo Starr as the Pope.
Here's one of the movie's most notorious — I guess you can't call it a "fantasy interlude," because realism is definitely outgunned here. Speaking of "outgunned," click above to watch Daltrey navigate his galumphing 10-foot phallus through a phalanx of chorus girls, in a production number where Busby Berkeley meets John Wayne Bobbitt. (It would've been right at home in the Olympic closing ceremony.) Sure, we'd love to see The Who perform Quadrophenia at Bridgestone in December — but wouldn't you rather see this?
(NSFW, unless you want a crowd around the cubicle.)