Crunch­ing the num­bers

LAM­BERT AND STAMP ★★★ Di­rected by James D Cooper. Fea­tur­ing Chris Stamp, Kit Lam­bert, Pete Town­shend, Roger Dal­trey, Terence Stamp. Club, IFI, Dublin, 117 min

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - DON­ALD CLARKE

You could hardly find a bet­ter ve­hi­cle from which to ex­plore the cul­tural earth­quakes that hit Bri­tain in the 1960s than the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Chris Stamp and Kit Lam­bert. The for­mer, younger brother to ac­tor Terence Stamp, was the smart, street-wise son of an East End tug­boat cap­tain. Lam­bert’s fa­ther, the com­poser Con­stant, was suf­fi­ciently em­bed­ded in the estab­lish­ment to form the model for the melan­choly Hugh More­land in An­thony Pow­ell’s A Dance to

the Mu­sic of Time. De­picted as neat com­ple­ments in James D Cooper’s en­er­getic, if over­long, doc­u­men­tary, the two first jug­gled am­bi­tions to make movies. On the hunt for a band around which to struc­ture a doc­u­men­tary, they en­coun­tered a rough out­fit named The High Num­bers and set about turn­ing them into The Who.

There is so much here that is rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the times. We get no sense that the gay, polylin­gual Lam­bert is en­gaged in any sort of class tourism. The sharp imag­i­na­tive Stamp – who then looked like a lost mem­ber of The Small Faces – doesn’t come across as so­cial climber. A decade af­ter ra­tioning ended, with na­tional ser­vice abol­ished, younger sorts re­ally did feel lib­er­ated to ex­plore hith­erto barred chan­nels. Cooper, mak­ing his di­rec­to­rial de­but, cuts in­ter­views to­gether with ar­chive footage in a zippy, noisy col­lage. Stamp, who died in 2012, proves a grip­ping racon­teur. Lam­bert, who left us in 1981, re­lays the louche charisma of the doomed ge­nius.

Un­for­tu­nately, the film does go on at least 20 min­utes too long and re­quires the viewer to take The Who’s laugh­able ex­cesses – no­tably the vain­glo­ri­ous Tommy – more se­ri­ously than they de­serve. This will not be a prob­lem for some view­ers. The un­con­vinced will still find much to en­joy.

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