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Cocksucker Blues (1972), Robert Frank, C

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, October 30th, 2005

Yikes. I need to take a shower. This legendary documentary, available only on bootleg, may indeed be the best representation of life on the road with a 70s rock band. And it ain’t as fun as it looks in “Almost Famous.” The Stones’ 1972 US tour supporting “Exile on Main St.” is presented here as a demoralizing slough of drugs, sex and cameras. I know — how can this be bad? Trust me, it is. It is disorienting, boring, almost sickening. The footage looks like hell (I think even the original did, too — much of it is shot on B&W Super 8) and everybody looks nauseous. Some moments are just so awful you have to laugh — a spread-eagled naked woman with semen on her abdomen mumbling “I saw fireflies last night” is, in this regard, the summit. Mick wears cool outfits and Keith tries to order room service in a scene straight out of Spinal Tap. Lots of celebs pop by (Dick Cavett, Truman Capote, Andy Warhol, Tina Turner, Terry Southern) but when they leave it is just back to the boredom. Waiting backstage. Waiting for the plane. Waiting at the hotel. Driving for hours to go play pool with Muddy Waters. I guess. . .I guess it is possible this is exactly what Frank wanted. Who knows? All I know is that it gave me a headache. There are one or two musical numbers, but poorly recorded. A jam with Stevie Wonder (!) is pretty kick-ass, though.


  1. Compared to Eat the Document, Cocksucker Blues is Citizen Kane!

    I think you have the wrong head about this movie. Frank’s intention seems to be to show a recording artist or band at a given point in their career. Don’t Look Back does the same for Dylan (and it’s surprising that Eat the Document, which took place abou a year later, isn’t a much better documentary, as Dylan was going through an extremely volatile period, i.e. going electric).

    His point is to show the boredom — the airports, the hotel rooms, the hangers-on, the drugs, the groupies, the tough/crazy road crew. This IS how it was for the Stones behind the scenes in their prime. If the band isn’t on stage, this is their lives fo X number of months or years. And it kind of sucks! (But is better than driving around the country in a packed van and sleeping four people in a Red Roof Inn motel room, if they’re lucky enough to afford a room … the way many bands do.)

    There is no loving, beautiful “band aid” to offer the guys emotional support — there are fellow heroin addicts with rapidly fading beauty offering blow jobs and insincerity.

    In short, the movie is very good for the same reasons you don’t like it. It’s a documentary — not a narrative story. The truth is, a documentary about most recording artists, especially these days, will be incredibly dull. (Think Madonna in her tour movie … consciously performing and staging scenes for the camera … because she knows there’s NOTHING going on … so let’s play Truth or Dare with the dancers and get into her methods for giving head, to the delight of the gay black and Puerto Rican boys in her troupe … who are actually more interesting than she is.)

    I wouldn’t say Cocksucker Blues is brilliant, but I will say it achieves what it sets out to do: a black-and-white, no punches pulled, honest portrayal of a rock band on the road (back when rock still meant something … actually on the cusp of it no longer meaning much of anything but a marketing plan).

    Repent, Mr. Hoffman! Repent! You should be made to watch “Cotton Candy” on endless loop for missing the boat on this one!

    Comment by Bill R. — October 30, 2005 @ 7:11 am

  2. No, no, I get it, I get it. I agree with everything you say. It was just a bummer to watch it. Also — I brought it with me to a party & when the crowd thinned out and there was just a few of us left we put it on. I guess I was expecting more great rock scenes and funny stuff (like the airplane scene, which, if the woman was consenting, might be considered a fun scene.) Maybe it was just the wrong environment, but the movie just gave me the creeps. I do give it props for getting the disorienting feeling of life on the road. One fellow viewer said at one point, “Robert Frank filmed this in real time, right? ‘Cause I feel like I’ve been on this tour as long as the Stones have.”

    Comment by Jordan Hoffman — October 30, 2005 @ 10:29 am

  3. Tina Turner will always be a legend in music history.~-.

    Comment by Mackenzie Ward — July 4, 2010 @ 11:58 am

  4. Tina Turner offers a great vocal range and such powerful voice,-”

    Comment by Maya Brooks — August 1, 2010 @ 11:11 pm

  5. i kinda like the hair of Tina Turner, she has a great voice too`’.

    Comment by Constipation Remedies  — October 14, 2010 @ 2:16 am

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