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Published:March 26th, 2013 08:19 EST
David Mamet`s 'Phil Spector' Is a Not a Documentary or a DocuDrama, It`s a Simulation!

David Mamet`s 'Phil Spector' Is a Not a Documentary or a DocuDrama, It`s a Simulation!

By John G. Kays


David Mamet`s Phil Spector, which just premiered on HBO Sunday evening, is not a documentary of the iconic pop producer`s life, nor is it a docudrama, but rather it`s a creative, interpretive simulation of Phil`s mindset, associated with pre-trial events. 


You might note, the first trial began on March 19, 2007, while Lana Clarkson had been found dead, as the result of a firearm, in Spector`s majestic (Adams Family-Esque) mansion on February 3, 2003. Mamet`s entertaining and (yes) humorous simulation, starring Al Pacino (as Phil) and Helen Mirren (as his attorney, Kenney Baden), skews the evidence, arguing for Spector`s innocence in the shooting of Lana Clarkson.


While the legal doings are seemingly the primary focus of the 135 minute fun-filled-film, I saw it as (actually) a device to tell Phil`s story again, his meteoric rise in the music business as an eccentric producer, and especially how his unparalleled fame affected his character, his blatant narcissism, his inflated ego, and his tragic sinkage into chronic mental issues. 


A focus on his obsession with guns is touched on when Phil rationalizes to Kenney (when she first visits him at his bizarre hacienda), and I paraphrase, `How many pairs of shoes do you have? How many feet do have?`


Therefore, as Phil might crazily rationalize, it`s perfectly normal to have several hundred handguns about the house; hey, Elvis behaved this way too. I`m glad they showed the flashback of Phil shooting the gun off in the studio, since that really happened (I still need to confirm the exact event). 


I don`t know whether it was an intentional purpose of David Mamet`s to stimulate a discussion of a current need for gun control legislation in our country, but his film Phil Spector may have that side effect, which makes it beneficial.


Phil`s attitude regarding firearms mirrors that of the NRA`s, and given the fact that Spector was most probably mentally compromised, the fact that he was brazenly brandishing firearms in front of musicians in the studio and with women he was dating, decidedly highlights the absurdity of his behavior. 


The final scene where Al dons the Afro-Wig for his first trial day (close to what Phil actually did) is good evidence of how weird he could get. Moreover, we hear he practiced such obvious narcissism only to exacerbate or to suggest to the public he really was crazy (an odd modulation of performance art).


The fact that the film ends with this Afro-Wig scene suggests to me that David Mamet believes that Spector went totally Crackers! I`ve done extensive research on the real Phil Spector`s career, and am a zealous devotee to his records and his Wall of Sound invention and philosophy of sound (Mono). His first hit record, To Know Him Is To Love Him, is a tribute to his father, who had some mental issues himself, and ended up committing suicide with a gun. We can trace his problems very early on.


On March 31, 1974, Phil was nearly killed in an automobile accident, having sustained some serious head injuries. I cite this event as the beginning of the end for the once great record producer. Because of the extensive stitches required to his head (300 to his face and 400 to the back of his head), Spector began to don his many wigs. It`s my belief this auto accident tipped him over to the other side, thinking he was now King Tut (such in Batman). 


I digress, but it`s also my belief this groovy film will stimulate many (who are too young to know any better) to research Mr. Spector`s unbelievable career in music.  Be sure to watch Phil as the PusherMan in Easy Rider or listen to one of his rare records, such as When I Saw You (written by Phil and performed by The Ronettes), which is included in the HBO movie.


http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc19772/m1/