Who is Harry Nilsson? (2006/2010)

Also Known As: Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him?)

Opened: 09/10/2010 Limited

Limited09/10/2010
Cinema Village...09/10/2010 - 09/23/201014 days
Sunset 5/LA09/17/2010 - 09/23/20107 days
Laemmle's Moni...09/24/2010 - 09/30/20107 days
DVD10/26/2010

Trailer: Click for trailer

Genre: Documentary/Music

Rated: Unrated

Short Synopsis

A wildly entertaining, star-studded documentary about The Beatles's favorite American musician, Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him)? is a vibrant and definitive portrait of one of the most talented singer-songwriters in pop music history. Directed by Emmy and Grammy nominee John Scheinfeld (The U.S. vs. John Lennon), the film combines compelling interviews with Nilsson's family, friends and colleagues -- including Brian Wilson, Randy Newman, Robin Williams, Micky Dolenz and Yoko Ono -- with rare and never-beforeseen archival footage, home movies, and excerpts from a recently discovered oral autobiography. Delving deeply into Nilsson's artistic process (including the genesis of classic tunes like "One is the Loneliest Number"), his combative friendship with John Lennon, and the addictions that haunted him in and outside the studio, Scheinfeld also depicts a devoted husband and father who finally found a measure of peace outside the passing glare of fame.

Long Synopsis

This wildly entertaining, incredibly emotional and star-studded documentary tells the story of one of the most talented and versatile singer-songwriters in pop music history...a man The Beatles dubbed their favorite American musician...whose career was as complex, exhilarating, maddening and inspiring as the man himself.

The Grammy® winning "Everybody's Talkin" from the Academy Award® winning film, Midnight Cowboy...the Grammy® winning power ballad, "Without You"... the quirky "Coconut" ("Put de lime in de coconut...")...the whimsical "Me And My Arrow," and the poignant "One" ("...is the loneliest number")...these distinctive recordings are all the work of one man, Harry Nilsson, and showcase the wide range of his talents.

A brilliantly gifted songwriter, Harry's work has been covered by a wide range of artists (Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Harry Belafonte, Blood Sweat & Tears, Glen Campbell, Joe Cocker, Ella Fitzgerad, Aimee Mann, Bette Midler, The Monkees, The Ronettes, Barbra Streisand, Three Dog Night, The Turtles, The Yardbirds and others). And yet, with an irony that was typical of his career, his greatest fame and success came as a singer of other people's songs. Blessed with a remarkable three and-a-half octave range, he won two Grammys® and was the recipient of 17 Gold Records, yet never compromised his unique musical vision.

The documentary, which Ain't It Cool News says, is "everything a great documentary needs to be," reveals how his personal life was as complex and contradictory as his music, from his spirited relationship with John Lennon to his close bond with Ringo Starr. It exposes a legendary "bad boy" party animal who was at the same time a devoted husband and father.

With Harry Nilsson telling most of the story in his own words and voice (using recordings taken from his unpublished oral autobiography), director John Scheinfeld paints a detailed and revelatory portrait of an extraordinary artist, bringing added emotion and intimacy to the story with over 50 Nilsson recordings, as well as rare or never-before seen film clips, home movies and photos from the Nilsson family album. Amidst the incredibly rare footage are performances from two TV specials he made for the BBC, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, Playboy After Dark and Beat Club, plus promo films, music videos and home movies. Also featured are clips from the Oscar® winning film, Midnight Cowboy and Did Somebody Drop His Mouse?, an unfinished documentary about the recording of the Harry's 1972 album, Son of Schmilsson.

To this are added compelling interviews with top music and movie personalities who knew Harry well. Among them are Micky Dolenz, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Al Kooper, Randy Newman, Yoko Ono, Van Dyke Parks, The Smothers Brothers, Jimmy Webb, Paul Williams, Robin Williams, Brian Wilson and many others.

As film critic Leonard Maltin noted, "Who Is Harry Nilsson...?" is a vivid portrait of a gifted man...what a great reminder of his talent."

All music in the film was recorded by Harry. The soundtrack features over 50 songs from throughout his career, including all of his best-known hits, unreleased tracks and rare recordings.

This powerful documentary film transcends mere biography. It is a quintessential rock and roll story, an inspired examination of a unique era in music history as witnessed by people who were there. As one observer noted, "Because of who is interviewed, we are thrust back into that time and place so that we understand precisely why Harry was so important then...and why he still matters today."