Tommy (Universal) (1975)

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Released 8-Aug-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1975
Running Time 106:53
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (56:59) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Ken Russell

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Oliver Reed
Roger Daltrey
Elton John
Eric Clapton
Jack Nicholson
Case ?
RPI $36.95 Music The Who

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Pan & Scan English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Tommy 'that deaf, dumb and blind kid, sure plays a mean pinball'.

    Tommy tells the story of a young boy, Tommy (Roger Daltrey), who experiences a dramatic childhood trauma. This experience leaves him with a psychological condition resulting in the apparent loss of his senses. As he grows, his mother and step-father take him to various people for help but all their efforts fail. Despite his handicap, Tommy eventually becomes a world-famous pinball player when he challenges and beats the current pinball wizard. Through his pinball success, Tommy and his parents gain fame and fortune. When Tommy is suddenly cured, he is hailed as a new religious leader gaining a large international following.

    Before watching this disc I had not seen Tommy and was only aware of the movie through the concept album from The Who. Directed by Ken Russell (Altered States, Whore) this movie has generated responses from viewers ranging from brilliant to appalling. The disagreement between viewers is not surprising as the rock opera has always divided viewers. This film has no regular dialogue with the movie comprised entirely of a combination of musical numbers. Performances by Eric Clapton, Tina Turner, Elton John and Jack Nicholson will undoubtedly be remembered by all viewers and they do make the movie interesting.

    This film will continue to evoke a wide range of responses from viewers, but if you are a fan of the rock opera genre or of The Who, it is a disc worth checking out.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Track Listing

1. Overture From Tommy/Prologue 1945
2. Captain Walker/It's A Boy
3. Bernie's Holiday Camp
4. 19951/What About The Boy
5. Amazing Journey
6. Fairground/Christmas
7. Eyesight To The Blind
8. Acid Queen
9. Do You Think It's Alright 1
10. Cousin Kevin
11. Do You Think It's Alright 2
12. Fiddle About
13. Do You Think It's Alright 3
14. Sparks;Extra! Extra!;Pinball Wizard
15. Champagne
16. There's A Doctor I've Found
17. Rex Beans (linking Music)
18. Go To The Mirror
19. Tommy Can You Hear Me?
20. Smash The Mirror
21. I'm Free
22. Miracle Cure
23. Sally Simpson
24. Mother And Son
25. I'm A Sensation
26. Welcome
27. Hell's Angels
28. Tommy's Holiday Camp
29. We're Not Gonna Take It
30. Listening To You/See Me, Feel Me

Transfer Quality


    The Pan & Scan transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

    This transfer is quite soft and never exhibits high levels of detail at any stage. Shadow detail also poses a problem for this transfer with most of the dark portions of the picture displaying little detail. Luckily, the majority of the transfer is well-lit and consequently the poor levels of shadow detail do not become a significant problem for the viewer. At no stage during the transfer was any low level noise detected.

    The colours for the film appear muted and slightly washed out as you typically find in a film of this age. During one sequence filmed with red lighting at 31:40, a large amount of chroma noise may be seen as well as high levels of dot crawl. Dot crawl may also seen throughout the closing credit sequence. These artefacts are very obvious and quite disruptive to the viewer.

    At no stage during the transfer were any MPEG artefacts detected.

    A small number of aliasing artefacts may be seen throughout the transfer with examples visible at 51:02, 59:22, 66:02 and 86:13. Luckily each of these artefacts only occur for a short duration and are only very mildly disruptive to the viewer.

    Unfortunately, film artefacts pose a significant problem for this transfer with obvious film damage visible at numerous points during the movie. Some examples of this film damage may be seen at 30:36, 50:03, 87:14 and 89:24. This significant damage is also combined with frequent occurrences of minor flecks and spots throughout the transfer. This damage is quite distracting to the viewer due to its constant presence and occasional severity.

    During the opening credit sequence, a small amount of telecine wobble may be seen but this only lasts a short amount of time and does not occur again in the transfer.

    Disappointingly, no subtitle track is present on this disc.

    The layer change occurs at 56:59 at the start of Chapter 14. This is placed at a scene change and is only mildly disruptive to the viewer.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    Two audio tracks are provided on this disc. The default track is a Linear PCM 2.0 mix, with an alternate Dolby Digital 192 kbps 2.0 mix provided as well. The Dolby Digital track is not flagged as surround encoded and its inclusion is puzzling as it provides no benefit over the clearly superior PCM mix.

    The musical dialogue for this film remains clear and easy to understand at all times.

    As all dialogue is looped, there are some obvious small synchronization issues but these are never distracting to the viewer. During points in the film where obvious film damage has occurred, the soundfield often briefly collapses to an apparent mono mix. These audio problems are disruptive to the viewer but understandable considering the problems with the source material.

    The whole audio track for this film can be considered the score. This is definitely quite different to the original double LP concept album by The Who. It is highly varied score, featuring heavy use of synthesizers and may appeal to fans of their music. Even if you do not find the musical numbers very appealing, the performances by Jack Nicholson, Eric Clapton, Tina Turner, Elton John and others are very memorable.

    The surround and subwoofer channels are not utilized at all during the transfer.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There are no extras included on this disc.


    The pinball-themed static menu is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc is the clear winner, but due to the unusual nature of the movie unfamiliar viewers may wish to rent the R4 version before purchasing this disc.


    Tommy is a 70s rock opera that will surely appeal to some people but will leave others very disappointed with the direction and performances in the film.

    The Pan & Scan image combined with the damaged source materials results in a highly unsatisfying video transfer.

    The exclusion of the original surround track for this movie is extremely disappointing as this mix would have been interesting from a historical viewpoint.

    No extras are provided on this disc.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Anthony Kable (read my bio)
Monday, August 06, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 1200, using S-Video output
DisplaySony KP-E41SN11. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationFront left/right: ME75b; Center: DA50ES; rear left/right: DA50ES; subwoofer: NAD 2600 (Bridged)
SpeakersFront left/right: VAF DC-X; Center: VAF DC-6; rear left/right: VAF DC-7; subwoofer: Custom NHT-1259

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Comments (Add)
NO SURROUND!......UNFORGIVABLE!!!!!! - paulisdead (Read my bio...lies all lies!!!)
USA surround version is great - MichaelCPE
Region two version -
PAL Speed-up - zetmoon
Region two version REPLY -
Umbrella Release Issues - (oh boy, oh boy, oh bio)