John and Yoko: A Love Story

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John and Yoko: A Love Story
Directed by Sandor Stern
Produced by Aida Young
Release dates December 2, 1985
Running time 146 minutes
Language English

John and Yoko: A Love Story is a 1985 television drama that chronicles the lives of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, beginning just before they met in 1966 and concluding with Lennon's assassination in 1980. The movie was made with the co-operation of Yoko Ono, who controlled the song rights.[1]

Plot[edit]

The film opens in August 1966, where just before The Beatles begin their next American Concert in Memphis, Tennessee for their fourth American tour, people gather with the Ku Klux Klan to burn their Beatles material including records, and much more merchandise, due to John saying that The Beatles were more popular than Jesus. After a firecracker is thrown onto the stage during the performance of the song "Help!", the group decides to stop touring, and for a second reason it is because they are fed up with not hearing any music they perform on stage due to the fans' constant screaming.

The band returns to England, where three months later John meets a Japanese artist named Yoko Ono, who is married to American Tony Cox and has a daughter named Kyoko. She is not pleased by John's personality when they meet, especially when he begs to hammer a nail into one of Yoko's art displays, and she says he can do it if he gives her five shillings, but instead John pretends to give her five shillings and pretends hammer in a nail, before proceeding to eat a Granny smith apple, without knowing it was for the exhibition. Yoko seems to be disgruntled by John's personality until John Dunbar [2][3] tells her he is one of The Beatles.

Later on, John and Yoko develop a fast friendship despite them being married to others and get to know each other more and even visits her house. He even brings her to the studio with him, much to the disgust of the other Beatles. Meanwhile, Brian Epstein, who is the Beatles' manager, dies of an accidental overdose of sleeping pills. Because of this The Beatles are left with no manager, and begin to show more sign of strain. In the meantime, John develops an immediate crush on Yoko.

In February 1968, John goes to Rishikesh with his wife Cynthia and the other Beatles and their wives (with the exception of Paul, who was accompanied by his then girlfriend Jane Asher) for meditation with the Maharishi there. After returning, John calls Yoko by phone and invites her to come to his house, while Cynthia is away in Greece. Since Tony is away too, Yoko agrees to do so. At the house, they start recording songs, and at dawn John and Yoko have sex. After both Cynthia and Tony find out about their affair, John leaves Cynthia and his son Julian, while Yoko leaves Tony and her daughter Kyoko. As the months pass, John and Yoko have several art exhibits and even plant two acorns as a symbol of peace.

Yoko later finds out she is pregnant with her and John's first child, but later miscarries. Paul McCartney had found a romantic interest named Linda Eastman. Paul later married Linda Eastman, and after getting a divorce from their respective spouses, John and Yoko get married in Gibraltar, and John starts playing with the Plastic Ono Band, after being under the stress of The Beatles. Paul signs with his father in-law Lee Eastman for music business and John signs with Allan Klein for another label which George and Ringo agree to do, but Paul refuses. Yoko later finds out she's pregnant again but once again she miscarries. In 1970, after Paul decides to quit The Beatles, John decides to disband the group and he does. Yoko is blamed by the public for the break-up.

A year later, John and Yoko encounter problems, such as Yoko's ex-husband Tony Cox refusing to let Yoko see Kyoko, despite the divorce agreement granting her joint custody. During a trip in Majorca, Spain, Yoko takes Kyoko by force. After being caught by Spanish officers, Yoko is faced with a kidnapping charge. Much of the subplot deals with Yoko's problems on trying to regain her daughter's love and seeing her again.

In June 1971 John and Yoko emigrate to New York in the United States for a new life, where John records a solo album called Imagine, which is a huge hit, and Yoko records some songs as well. John and Yoko later face problems when the U.S. Government threatens to deport John and Yoko, and their house is bugged and a spy is sent to spy on them. Throughout 1971, John and Yoko perform live at several venues including the Apollo Theater. The next day, at a Houston, Texas court, Tony is put in jail when he refuses to let Yoko see Kyoko. Yoko and John then go to the U.S. Supreme Court, where Yoko obtains full custody of her, but still does not know where she is.

In 1972 U.S. President Richard Nixon defeats George McGovern for re-election which leaves John unhappy, and gets drunk and has sex with another girl, which makes Yoko angry and humiliated. This results in the two of them having marital problems, and not long after they move into the Dakota building Yoko tells John they need to be separated for a while, and admits she still loves him. She sends music producer May Pang with him to Los Angeles.

There, John begins a brief affair with May and later sees bandmate Ringo Starr again as well as recording a song with Elton John called "Whatever Gets You Through the Night" for his new album Walls and Bridges. Elton makes a deal with John that he gets to appear at one of his concerts if the song hits #1 on the charts. When it does, John joins Elton at his Madison Square Garden concert in November 1974, and sings "Whatever Gets You Through the Night" with him. After the performance, John encounters Yoko backstage, as she had seen his performance in the audience and Elton reveals he knew she was there in the audience the whole time. John and Yoko reunite, and in October 1975, Yoko gives birth to a son John names Sean, while at the same time John learns from Leon Wildes that he will not be deported from the U.S. after all.

After Sean is born, John decides to retire from the music business to raise Sean for the first five years of his life. John becomes a househusband during this time, and Yoko runs a business. Three years later, Julian comes from England to visit John and later Julian has a jamming session with John and three-year old Sean. Soon, Yoko receives a phone call from Kyoko, and its revealed she wants to come to The Dakota to visit for Christmas. When Kyoko is unable to visit on Christmas Day, this leaves Yoko sad.

In 1980, John is amazed by the new-wave music of the 80's and wants to record another album and starts writing songs again. Before long, John and Yoko record another album called Double Fantasy. As the months pass they record another album called Milk and Honey. On December 8, after a recording session for the album, John suggests they go on tour again when the album is released. Yoko requests that they go and eat, but John wants to go home and see Sean, so they go back to The Dakota. After arriving, John hears someone call his name "Mr. Lennon" and turns around to face a man pointing a gun at him ready to shoot him. The movie then goes to a freeze frame on John's face looking at the gun, while the viewer hears a loud gunshot in the background with the caption "John Lennon died on December 8, 1980".

Main cast[edit]

Actor Role
Mark McGann John Lennon
Kim Miyori Yoko Ono
Kenneth Price Paul McCartney
Peter Capaldi George Harrison
Phillip Walsh Ringo Starr
Richard Morant Brian Epstein
Rachel Laurence Cynthia Lennon
Vincent Marzello Anthony Cox
John Sinclair George Martin

Production[edit]

The production of the movie required various song rights only available from Yoko Ono, thereby granting her some control over the content.[1] John J. McMahon was executive producer, and Sandor Stern wrote and directed. Stern was chosen after a script by Edward Hume was rejected by Ono after it depicted too much drug abuse.[1]

Content[edit]

The movie begins in 1966 with the Beatles already showing signs of stress. John and Yoko meet and John falls immediately in love. The movie covers the period until his death.[1]

Reviews[edit]

John J. O'Connor's review in the New York Times praised the acting of McGann and Miyori in the title roles. However, he found the movie to be often "ploddingly dull" and the songs the "best part of the show."[1]

References[edit]