Danny Says review

danny says 2017 movie embed1You may not know the name Danny Fields. You’ll certainly know the musicians he has worked with – The Stooges, The Doors, Cream, The Ramones, The Velvet Underground and more. Danny Fields was a man instrumental in the musical movements of the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s.

Documentary maker Brendan Toller has picked a subject in Danny Fields that not many people will know who he is or what his cultural significance was. Yet as the documentary plays out its clear Fields is either the luckiest guy on the planet or simply a man who knows how to play the game. Dropping out of a prestigious law school and moving to New York, Fields woke his inner anarchist when he met and befriended legendary artist Andy Warhol. No longer bound by the constraints of his parents’ regimented upbringing Fields was free to explore himself at a time when a ground swell of a new musical movement was to begin.

The documentary is made up of stills from Fields collection, many of them featuring him alongside legendary musical performers who he had a hand in working with, raw archival family footage and scenes from gigs by The Stooges, The Ramones, The Doors and more. Also there are plenty of talking head interviews with the surviving members of bands he worked and people who have worked closely with him including Jac Holzman, founder of Elektra Records, who compliments Fields ability to find diamonds in the rough. Holzman had no qualms about allowing Fields to record an entire album on the streets of New York City that was dedicated to marijuana.

The stories keep piling up as to how boundary pushing Fields was during that time. He even convinced his mum to loan his $3,000 to help sign The Ramones. Fields was clearly a man with the silver tongue when it came to helping the punk explosion. However, some stories do not end well including the sad termination of his work with The Stooges, over a smashed up U-Haul trailer, and his deteriorating relationship with Iggy Pop over cocaine.

No topic is off discussion in the documentary and Fields is highly entertaining when talking about his homosexuality. Part of the reason he went to New York was to allow his sexual curiosity to be burst wide open. He delights in telling stories about not caring what others thought, especially his parents, he simply wanted to have a good time with like-minded individuals. Some of his old stories are elaborated with psychedelic visuals that swirl and swoop around the screen as if plucked from the drug induced mind of Hunter S. Thompson.

Danny Says immortalises a man who blagged his way into the music industry, had to learn on the job and eventually, when spit out the other side, had helped culture a music revolution. Would there have been punk music today if Fields had not been around? Of course. Would the music have been as raw, edgy and full of energy? Absolutely not. It is a fascinating documentary about the man behind the man.

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Mark Searby is a Screenjabber contributor

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