The story of music & fame through the eyes of world famous radio dj & pop impresario rodney bingenheimer & his friends featuring special live performances. Studio: First Look Home Entertain Release Date: 06/21/2005 Run ... more »time: 94 minutes Rating: R« less
Certainly not the "best rock film" as described on the cover of the DVD. It's worth a viewing if you have an interest in watching a rather sad man float through his life.
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Sarah F. (Ferdy63) from DALTON, GA Reviewed on 2/26/2009...
Documentary of the life of Rodney Bingenheimer, a man I'd never heard of. If you live in LA maybe you know him as Rodney on the ROQ. He is a small rather unassuming guy but has apparently been a major force in rock and roll since the early 1970's. This film includes still photos and video of Rodney with all the great rock stars of the last 30 years and includes interviews with people like Cher, David Bowie, Gwen Stefani and more. I enjoyed it.
D. Hartley | Seattle, WA USA | 06/12/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"By turns outrageously funny and reflectively sad, this fascinating look at the life of L.A. music scene fixture Rodney Bingenheimer is a must-see for anyone claiming to be a serious rock fan. The diminutive, skittish and soft-spoken Bingenheimer comes off as Andy Warhol's West coast twin, or perhaps the Forrest Gump of rock and roll-somehow he has been in the hurricane's eye of every major music "scene" since the mid 60's, from Monkeemania (working as Davey Jones' double!) to becoming the first DJ to champion current superstars Coldplay. Although ostensibly "about" Rodney, the film is at its core a whirlwind timetrip through Rock's evolution, filtered through a coked-out L.A. haze. The ongoing photograph montages of Rodney posing with an A-Z roster of every major seminal rock figure in the genre's history began to remind me of Woody Allen's Alfred Zelig, a nondescript milquetoast who could morph his appearance to match whomever he was with at the time. Rodney himself remains a cypher; in one scene he fidgets nervously and begs the director to turn off the camera when the questions get too "close". There is also a sad irony; despite his ability to attract the company of the rich and famous (and they all appear to adore the man), the fruits of fame and success evade Rodney himself. He drives a "beater" to his DJ job at L.A.'s legendary KROQ; he lives alone in a cluttered little hovel, where treasured memorabilia like Elvis Presely's first driver's license(!) collects dust next to the empty pizza boxes. Priceless commentary from the likes of music producer Kim Fowley (whose own wacked-out rock 'n' roll career contains enough fodder for a whole other documentary), Pamela Des Barres (legendary groupie; aka "Miss Pamela" of Frank Zappa proteges The G.T.O.'s)and her husband, musician Michael Des Barres. One of the best "rockumentaries" to date."
A stranger-than-fiction true life story
Roland E. Zwick | Valencia, Ca USA | 01/16/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"***1/2 If "Mayor of the Sunset Strip" were not a documentary, no one would ever believe the story it tells. The film chronicles the life of Rodney Bingenheimer, the L.A. DJ who helped to launch the careers of many of the most influential bands in rock music history. However, if you're expecting Rodney to be a dashing, high-powered music exec with loads of cash and garages full of fancy sport cars, think again. He is, in fact, a painfully shy and unassuming man who seems totally out of place in the celebrity swirl of which he became so integral a part beginning in the 1960`s. This is what makes his story and the film so fascinating, for who could have imagined that this gnomish young lad from Mountain View, California - essentially abandoned by both his mother and father and rejected by his peers - would somehow manage to make himself the center of attention for some of the greatest rock celebrities of the 1960's and `70's. Everybody who was anybody knew and adored Rodney, and, after he landed a gig as DJ at L.A.'s KROQ in the 1970`s, he gave many struggling alternative artists their first real toehold on the radio, playing their records at a time when no other disc jockeys would touch them. The bands who practically owe their careers to Rodney Bingenheimer include Blondie, the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, the Runaways, the Go-Go's, No Doubt, Coldplay, and many many others.
As a documentary, the film, written and directed by George Hickenlooper, takes a fairly conventional approach, combining images from Rodney's life with interviews by celebrities, relatives and friends commenting on him both as a person and as a phenomenon. The film provides a virtual who's who of some of the biggest names in the music business stepping up to the camera to have their say, most of it highly complimentary to the subject. Indeed, almost to a person, the interviewees talk about what a sweet, lovable guy Rodney is and how hobnobbing with so many celebrities has not diminished his innate humility and decency as a person. There is one moment in the film when Rodney allows his anger to get the better of him, but, most of the time, he comes across as a goodhearted, almost passive person who is surprisingly inarticulate and - one senses - not all that comfortable being the subject of a documentary. The film achieves a poignancy and sadness in its latter scenes when we discover that, despite all this notoriety among the glitterati in Hollywood, Rodney lives a rather isolated existence, never having found that one true love with whom he could settle down and make a life. In fact, the movie makes us question whether fame - or even proximity to the famous - can ever really lead to a happy, successful life. It`s a lament we`ve heard many times before and will hear many times again.
"Mayor of the Sunset Strip" provides us with a kaleidoscopic view of the L.A. music scene from the mid 1960's to the present. Rodney's life becomes the forum for reliving all those exciting moments in which this parade of beautiful and talented people came to define the culture and eras of which they were a part. The film has an almost "Zelig" quality to it, as Rodney is photographed standing next to virtually every important rock artist to come down the pike in the last four decades.
I must admit that, even after watching "Mayor of the Sunset Strip," I still don't claim to understand how Rodney achieved everything that he did, and maybe no film could ever really capture that magic alignment of elements that made it possible for a shy, insecure young boy from a broken family - yet a boy with dreams and an abiding love of rock 'n roll - to play such a crucial part in music history. I guess you had to actually be there to really understand it.
My own experience with Rodney Bingenheimer is an extremely modest one. I once stood behind him while waiting to board a flight from San Jose to Burbank. Few people in the crowd seemed to know who he was, but an attractive young girl, obviously interested in pursuing a career in music, approached him and politely engaged him in conversation. Rodney, despite the fact that he could have simply ignored her advances and begged for privacy, instead turned his full attention to what it was she was saying, smiled demurely at her compliments, and offered her an opportunity to perform for him when they got back to L.A. It's that Rodney Bingenheimer who comes through in the film. "
Rodney, on the ROQ
Tim Brough | Springfield, PA United States | 11/03/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"If you cared at all about the exploding new wave scene in the 80's, then you should see this movie. Rodney Bingenheimer was the architect of the KROQ sound, the radio format that spawned alternative stations across the nation. What "The Mayor Of The Sunset Strip" does provide beyond that is a snapshot of Rodney as the ultimate fanboy. He was the kind of guy who drove David Bowie around California, trying to get him an audience with US record companies. Rodney, pretty much left in Hollywood to fend for himself as a child, even landed parts as Davey Jones' double on "The Monkees." His fans and friends include people like Bowie, Alice Cooper and Gwen Stefani. Even Cher drops in to show Rodney her appreciation.
What you also gather from this DVD is Rodney as an attention starved man-child who turned his fascination with celebrity into a career without a fortune. The distressing thing is that Rodney, who dwells in a squalid apartment and drives a beat up Chevy, basically lives a pretty meager existence when all the artists he helped break pay him little more than general lip service, and the radio station he helped put on the map has reduced him to one shift a week from Midnight to 3 AM on Sundays.
"The Mayor Of The Sunset Strip" is a good watch for rock fans, but is ultimately depressing. Rodney cuts a tragic figure through a lot of the documentary and leaves the viewer with a bittersweet feeling about the current state of broadcasting. You squirm as Rodney, a man who programmed radio by the sounds of the music he loved, is slowly being squeezed into irrelevance. Then you come to understand that people who grab hold of music and records for the sheer love of glamor, glitter and the sound of it all are dangerously close to extinct.
The music on the soundtrack is superb, including live tracks from X, Green Day, and Coldplay, plus songs from Bowie, T Rex and Van Halen! Both the DVD and it's CD soundtrack a really a music fan's (like Rodney) treasure, but may leave others confused as you watch this reedy, tweedy figure fumble his way through the duration of "The Mayor Of The Sunset Strip.""
Special Features Worth Price of Admission
Jason D Moss | Eugene, OR United States | 10/20/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm giving this DVD 5 stars because, taken together with the special features, the film contributes to a package that may be essential for any rock fan/armchair historian like myself. I agree with the criticism that the film spends too much time probing into Rodney's personal life; I assume the film-maker felt an obligation to present his subject's inner life as well as his social world, but ultimately I really don't care whether Rodney's best female buddy is his lover or not - I'm far more interested in the man's profound contribution to rock history. That said, the movie does its job well enough to hold the attention of rock fanatics and casual viewers alike. But what really seals the deal - and I'm surprised none of the reviews here have mentioned this - is a scene, tucked away in the special features, in which the film maker introduces Brian Wilson to Elvis Costello. The ensuing exchange is as fascinationg as you might imagine: A calm, collected Elvis does his best not to scream out "Ohmygod I'm talking to Brian Wilson!" while the latter goes on being his weird, intriguing self. The genius hangs like some luminescent protoplasm in the room while these two discuss recording studios, songwriting and fame. This segment alone moved me to go out and buy the DVD (I had rented it). Oh yeah, and there are interviews with people like Cher, David Bowie, and Pamela and Michael Des Barres, who proves himself a really entertaining and engaging character. Enjoy!"
Little Boy Lost.
F. Gentile | Lake Worth, Florida, United States | 02/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Like Woody Allen's "Zelig", Rodney Binginheimer seems an unassuming little person who just happens to show up during pivitol moments. There he is, in early music videos of groups such as The Mama And The Papas, clapping out of time off to the side, just a devoted fan. And as a stand in for Davey Jones on The Monkees t.v. show. With The Beatles...Jerry Lee Lewis...Jimi Hendrix. I first heard of Rodney many years ago, in the "X" documentary "The Unheard Music." He seemed a sweet but strange little man, kind of a new wave Peter Pan. This fascinating documentary reveals that Rodney is indeed a sweet man, with a palpable lonliness hovering around him. For someone who was on a first name basis with most of the music icons of the last forty years, he remains painfully shy. And though his early support of many then unheard of artists, through his role of d.j. on the famous L.A. radio station KROQ, literally put them on the map, he remains the ultimate reverential fan. There is nothing about him that suggests that he's done anything important, and he remains totally modest. He is surrounded by stars, his "friends", but, still seems alone. It was undoubtedly his modesty, and the respect he felt for the music stars he worshipped, which allowed so many of those stars to let him into their inner circle. There are great scenes and music in this film. Rodney was the one who introduced the then still relatively unknown David Bowie to L.A. in the very early seventies, and there they are, thirty years later, two old friends. Rodney promoted many bands, such as Blondie, The Go-Go's, DramaRama, The Smiths, X, and many, many more, who would otherwise never have gotten any radioplay in L.A., and all went on to greater exposure. All these bands are here, and I think it especially fitting that this documentary begins and ends with the band X, who best represented the 1970's L.A. sound, and who remain to this day (in my opinion) one of the greatest bands of all time. So, there is much rock-pop history here. But, the film goes deeper than that, and explores Rodney's past and childhood, and, it's an ultumately sad story. He appears to have been unwanted by just about everyone. He worked hard to be loved by his adored mother, who divorced his father when Rodney was a small boy, and she basically abandoned him for many years. As did the father, seen here in his incredibly tacky suburban California house with his wife, Rodney's step mother, both of whom are as animated as two mannequins. All seem very uncomfortable when interviewed about Rodney. Though there is nothing scandalous reported nor remotely suggested, there is an overwhelmingly uncomfortable feeling of indifference to Rodney, as if he were something they all wish would just go away. This is at times painfull to observe, as when the interviewer asks the family, with Rodney standing close by, where is Rodney's photo??, amongst all the obviously displayed family photos. It is nowhere to be seen, of course, and Rodney looks very uncomfortable. When Rodney pulls an autograph of Elvis out of his bag, to give to his remote-hesitant-uncomfortable step sister, the step mother reacts as if he is pulling a gun out of the bag, a very strange reaction. One feels equally uncomfortable later when Rodney expresses his obvious love for Camille, his attractive companion who weaves in and out of the proceedings. When she states that she has a boyfriend, and that she considers Rodney just a friend, the expression on Rodney's face makes one feel an intruder on a very private moment. Rodney's generosity to the downtrodden is observed in his support of Ron, a 50-ish, disturbed but harmless man, one of those many who move to L.A. with dreams of stardom, and live strange little lives in tiny rooms, fading into obscurity. It has always been Ron's dream to be a music star, and Rodney goes so far as to help him record, and actually plays his song on the air. The look of joy and relief on Ron's face, as he states that time was running out for him, is very sad. There is much about this film that is strangely sad. And though Rodney is still apparently on the air on KROQ, the station he put on the map, his usefullness to them has lessenned with time and changing musical tastes, and he has been demoted to a humiliatingly unimportant time slot. He never made much money doing what he loved, he did it for the music. He lives a modest life in a memorabilia filled apartment, and drives his now deceased mothers beat up car. One would expect the story of the life of someone in Rodney's position to be filled with unabashed tales of non-stop orgies and drugs. Instead, we meet this sweet, modest, totally unassuming little man who never hurt a fly, and still has a look of lost yearning on his face, a yearning he validates when he states towards the end of the film that he would trade it all tomorrow for someone to love, and that would love him in return. That he has not found this yet, and that he may never find it, is what makes this admittedly fascinating documentary so pervasively sad and overwhelmingly intrusive. That being said, this is an engrossing film about a very special man."