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Mayor of the Sunset Strip
Mayor of the Sunset Strip
Actors: Rodney Bingenheimer, David Bowie, Joey Ramone, Tori Amos, Billie Joe Armstrong
Director: George Hickenlooper
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Documentary
R     2004     1hr 34min

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 »

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Movie Details

Actors: Rodney Bingenheimer, David Bowie, Joey Ramone, Tori Amos, Billie Joe Armstrong
Director: George Hickenlooper
Creators: George Hickenlooper, Christopher Paul Carter, Donald Zuckerman, Greg Little, Greg S. Little, Julie Janata, Tommy Perna
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Bowie, David, Classic Rock, Documentary
Studio: First Look Pictures
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 08/17/2004
Original Release Date: 03/26/2004
Theatrical Release Date: 03/26/2004
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 34min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 1
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English

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Member Movie Reviews

Terrence B.
Reviewed on 9/25/2009...
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.
0 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
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.

Movie Reviews

Roxy roller
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.""