The Man Behind the Scenes

You may have never heard of Harry Nilsson, but he was a big influence on some people you probably do know: John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Terry Gilliam, Robin Williams. The reason you haven’t heard of him is he tended more toward artistic satisfaction rather than commercial success in the 1960s and ‘70s as a songwriter and singer. He did achieve some commercial success, including the top 40 hit “I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City” in 1969. He also won Grammy Awards for two of his recordings. The Beatles gave him a boost when they referred to him as their favorite American musician. Director John Scheinfeld, in Who Is Harry Nilsson (and Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him)?, assembles a portrait of the singer/songwriter who struggled through much of the 1980s and died in 1994. The documentary explores Nilsson’s artistic process, his spirited friendship with Lennon, and a number of things that haunted him over the years (including Lennon’s 1980 murder). Scheinfeld uses archival footage, home movies, a recently discovered oral autobiography as well as interviews. People interviewed in the film include Micky Dolenz of the Monkees (who covered the Nilsson tune “Cuddly Toy”), singer/songwriter Randy Newman, and former Beach Boy Brian Wilson.
Oct. 4-13, 2010

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