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Get Crazy

Embassy Home Entertainment's VHS cover
Directed by Allan Arkush
Produced by Hunt Lowry
Herbert F. Solow
Written by Danny Opatoshu
Henry Rosenbaum
David Taylor
Starring Malcolm McDowell
Allen Garfield
Daniel Stern
Gail Edwards
Ed Begley, Jr.
Cinematography Thomas Del Ruth
Editing by Kent Beyda
Michael Jablow
Distributed by Embassy Pictures
Release date(s) August 5, 1983
Running time 92 min.
Country United States
Language English

Get Crazy is a 1983 film directed by Allan Arkush and starring Malcolm McDowell, Allen Garfield, Daniel Stern, Gail Edwards, and Ed Begley, Jr..



The musical comedy depicts the fifteenth annual New Year's Eve concert at the fictitious Saturn Theater, and satirizes the rock business along with many rock and roll stereotypes. The film is also a tribute to the Fillmore East theater in New York City, where Arkush once worked as an usher, and is a fanciful view of what that famed music venue might have been like had it survived into the 1980s.

The film's main conflict comes from an evil industry mogul who wants to tear down the Saturn for a high-rise office building. Among his assets, the mogul controls a 22,000-seat auditorium and an 84,000-seat stadium, the sort of oversized, low-quality music venues that Bill Graham railed against as "Woodstock Festival syndrome" when he closed the Fillmore East in 1971.[1] In contrast the operator of the Saturn Theater, Max Wolfe (an idealized version of Graham), is established as the hero of live music fans everywhere when he sums up his credo this way: "I put on shows at the Saturn so that the kids can see the stage, afford the tickets, and hear the music."


It is December 31, 1982, and the Saturn Theater is preparing for its big New Year's Eve concert under the direction of owner and master showman Max Wolfe (Allen Garfield, credited as Allen Goorwitz), who has operated the Saturn since 1968. Assisting Max are stage manager Neil Allen (Daniel Stern), and visiting former stage manager Willy Loman (Gail Edwards).

Max Wolfe holds a 30-year lease to the theater, but reptilian concert promoter Colin Beverly (Ed Begley, Jr.) has other ideas. Beverly offers to buy Max out of his lease with what seems to be a sweetheart deal at Beverly's concert auditorium and stadium, but Max refuses, ultimately becoming so incensed that he collapses of an apparent heart attack. Outside, Max's ingratiating nephew Sammy (Miles Chapin) informs Beverly that he stands to inherit the theater from his uncle, and Beverly offers Sammy the same deal he offered Max—if Sammy can get Max's signature on an agreement to transfer the Saturn's lease before midnight.

The various performers for the show are introduced:

  • Nada (Lori Eastside from Kid Creole and the Coconuts) and her 15-member band, an amalgam of many disparate styles of music that appeared on MTV in the early 1980s—part bubble-gum pop, part New Wave, part garage rock. They are joined by "Special Guest Star" Piggy (Lee Ving of the L.A. punk band Fear).
  • Auden (Lou Reed), "metaphysical folk singer, event of the '70s, [and] antisocial recluse", a spoof of Bob Dylan.

King Blues opens the show, performing two of his "own" hit songs, "The Blues Had a Baby and They Named it Rock and Roll" (by Muddy Waters) and "Hoochie Coochie Man" (by Willie Dixon). Next the Nada Band take the stage and perform "I'm Not Going to Take It No More." Piggy leads the band in a viciously punk-rock version of "Hoochie Coochie Man," complete with stage dives and slam dancing. Reggie sings a celebration of egotism, "Hot Shot," then moves on to a version of "Hoochie Coochie Man".

As the show proceeds, Sammy tries to find ways to sabotage the theater, including fueling a fire in the basement and cutting the fire hose. Colin Beverly's henchmen, Mark and Marv (former teen heartthrobs Bobby Sherman and Fabian), give Sammy a bomb, which he plants in the rocket ship that Max will ride during the final countdown to midnight.

Willy overhears Mark and Marv talking about the bomb, and is captured by them and locked in the trunk of Colin Beverly's limousine. She escapes when the limo collides with Auden's taxicab, and runs back toward the theater. Only moments before midnight, Willy reaches the theater and tells Neil about the bomb. As the seconds tick away, the bomb is thrown from person to person out of the building, landing in Colin Beverly's limo just as it pulls up to the curb. The last second ticks away, the bomb explodes, everyone shouts "happy new year", and Captain Cloud leads the crowd in "Auld Lang Syne".

Max gives Neil the lease to the theater, saying he intends to retire. Neil offers partnership to Willy. The end credits roll while Auden sings Reed's "Little Sister". The final caption reads, "Thanks for the memories to the entire staff of the Fillmore East 1968–71."



Concert scenes, as well as exterior shots of the marquee, were filmed at the historic Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles, California. The theatre had been poorly maintained for years prior to filming, and was about to undergo a major restoration to return it to its former glory. According to Malcolm McDowell, "We trashed it just before they restored it. They knew we were going to do it, so they didn't mind."[2]

All actors performed their own vocal tracks, although none (except Lou Reed) wrote their songs. Malcolm McDowell specifically requested that he be allowed to sing as a condition of his contract.[2]

Director Allan Arkush appears during "Auld Lang Syne", throwing frisbees from the wings while wearing his Fillmore East usher's t-shirt.

A few actors featured in the 1982 film Eating Raoul also appear in Get Crazy, including: Paul Bartel, Mary Woronov, Susan Saiger and Ed Begley Jr.; as well as the stunt crew Bruce Paul Barbour and Rick Seaman.


Get Crazy was released on August 5, 1983 to mixed reviews. One of the kinder reviewers was Janet Maslin of The New York Times who called it "hip" and "good-natured" and wrote, "[It] isn't for everyone, but those well-disposed toward rock will find it energetic and funny."[3] Box office sales were tepid as well: its domestic gross totaled $1,645,711 USD, and its theatrical run was brief.[4]

Nowadays, although Get Crazy is far lesser known than director Arkush's previous film, Rock 'n' Roll High School, it is a small cult favorite among fans of rock and roll movies; some critics consider it to be "one of that genre's best outings."[5]


Get Crazy is not currently in print. Embassy Home Entertainment released the film on VHS in the 1980s, but no DVD edition of Get Crazy has been released as of 2009.

The Embassy Home Entertainment VHS release is a full screen transfer using the open matte technique. As a result the video shows (nearly) the full width of the theatrical release but occasionally reveals overhead boom microphones and other items that would be hidden when projected to a standard 1.85:1 Panavision ratio.


The LP soundtrack to the film was released in 1983 on the Morocco imprint of Motown Records, catalog number 6065CL.[6]


  1. ^ Graham, Bill. "A Letter From Bill Graham". The Village Voice, 6 May 1971. Retrieved 2007-03-10.  
  2. ^ a b Thrawn, Alex D. "Malcolm McDowell Tribute: Get Crazy". Retrieved 2007-03-14.  
  3. ^ Maslin, Janet (1983-10-14). ""Get Crazy," Rock". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-03-14.  
  4. ^ "Get Crazy (1983)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2007-03-14.  
  5. ^ Guarisco, Donald. ""Get Crazy" Review". Allmovie. Retrieved 2007-03-10.  
  6. ^ "Soundtrack Listing: "Get Crazy"". SoundtrackCollector. Retrieved 2007-03-14.  

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