About the Ned Kelly movie starring Mick Jagger…
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July 13, 1969: Mick in is Australia shooting his part for the NED KELLY movie (about the life of the 19th-century Aussie, outlaw directed by Tony Richardson), which extended until September that year. Meanwhile, he writes ‘Brown Sugar’ while staying there.
When Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger saddled up for the lead role in 1970’s Ned Kelly, history was meant to bear him somewhere between Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid and a ballsy Irish folk song. “The more I worked on it, the more I thought that I could make it by adopting a ballad…almost a country and western formula,” recounted Tony Richardson, the flamboyant British director behind such celebrated epics as The Charge Of The Light Brigade and Tom Jones, and the “kitchen sink realism” groundbreakers Look Back In Anger and The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner.
But while the cinematography would unfurl with beautifully haunting reverie, any romantic re-imagining was swiftly ring barked by the dramas of rock stardom, careless rewrites and, worst of all (according to Richardson), Australians. Ned Kelly is indeed a renowned tale of thuggery, violence, and an indomitable mythology…and that was just behind the camera.
“Ned Kelly?” reminisced a skull-jewelled Keith Richards to FilmInk in 2008 while promoting The Rolling Stones concert film Shine A Light. “With that bucket on his head!? I said, ‘Don’t do it, Mick!’ Mick’s not natural cinema food. But what he does in his spare time is up to him.”
“Having gone for Mick, I should have made a very different film,” conceded Richardson years later in his autobiography, Long Distance Runner. “Maybe a kind of collage that capitalised on the striking contrasts of his talent, instead of trying to push Mick into being an incipient John Wayne.”
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