The Rolling Stones: Charlie Is My Darling

Peter Whitehead

BY Jason SchneiderPublished Dec 7, 2012

The expansive release of this rarely seen documentary of the Stones at the height of their initial fame is appropriately timed to coincide with the hoopla surrounding the band's 50th anniversary celebrations. And what a difference 50 years certainly makes. Shot mainly as cinéma vérité during a whirlwind two-day trip to Ireland in September 1965, the 60-minute black-&-white film is an intimate portrait of the Stones on the cusp of hitting their stride. "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" was the hit of the summer and concerts were becoming increasingly chaotic. What's most refreshing from today's perspective is director Whitehead's attempts to give equal time to all the members, and the individual sit-down interviews reveal a surprising amount of introspection and sense of responsibility in carrying out their roles as "pop stars." Indeed, group unity was of paramount importance when facing deranged crowds every night, and it's shocking how quickly one of the concerts erupts into violence. The footage stands in stark contrast to the other great music doc of 1965, D.A. Pennebaker's Don't Look Back, during which crowds display nothing but complete reverence toward star Bob Dylan. Signs of Dylan's influence creeping into the Stones' camp are in fact evident in the tantalizing glimpses of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards writing together. These scenes also reinforce the notion that by this point, Stones founder Brian Jones was already becoming isolated and would soon descend into a drug hell. For this reason, Jones's interview segments — better utilized in the accompanying director's cut — are the most illuminating. Never again was he captured so lucidly, discussing his life and goals, and the gulf between he and Richards is brutally apparent. Along with DVD and Blu-Ray versions of the film, the nicely assembled box also includes CDs of the film soundtrack, a further CD and ten-inch record of 1965 live recordings, a hardcover book and replica tour poster. Although this version of the Stones will seem foreign to many young fans, Charlie Is My Darling stands as the definitive audio/visual document of the Brian Jones era, showing how the Stones became the blueprint for nearly every rock'n'roll band to follow.

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