Monterey Pop movie poster
|Directed by||D. A. Pennebaker|
|Produced by||John Phillips
|Starring||The Mamas & the Papas
Simon & Garfunkel
Big Brother and the Holding Company
Country Joe and the Fish
The Jimi Hendrix Experience
|Editing by||Nina Schulman|
|Distributed by||Leacock Pennebaker|
|Release date(s)||December 26, 1968|
|Running time||79 minutes|
Monterey Pop is a 1968 concert film by D. A. Pennebaker that documents the Monterey Pop Festival of 1967. Among Pennebaker's several camera operators were fellow documentarians Richard Leacock and Albert Maysles. The painter Brice Marden has an "assistant camera" credit, and Bob Neuwirth, who figured prominently in Pennebaker's Bob Dylan documentary Dont Look Back, acted as stage manager. Titles for the film were by the illustrator Tomi Ungerer. Featured performers include Big Brother and the Holding Company with Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, Hugh Masekela, Otis Redding, Ravi Shankar, The Mamas & the Papas, The Who and the Jimi Hendrix Experience, whose name-sake set his guitar on fire, broke it on the stage, then threw the neck of his guitar in the crowd at the end of "Wild Thing".
Performers and songs 
Songs featured in the film, in order of appearance:
- Scott McKenzie—"San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)"*
- The Mamas & The Papas—"Creeque Alley"* and "California Dreamin'"
- Canned Heat—"Rollin' and Tumblin'"
- Simon & Garfunkel—"The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)"
- Hugh Masekela—"Bajabula Bonke (The Healing Song)"
- Jefferson Airplane—"High Flyin' Bird" and "Today"
- Big Brother & The Holding Company—"Ball 'n' Chain"
- Eric Burdon & The Animals—"Paint It, Black"
- The Who—"My Generation"
- Country Joe & The Fish—"Section 43"
- Otis Redding—"Shake" and "I've Been Loving You Too Long"
- The Jimi Hendrix Experience—"Wild Thing"
- The Mamas & The Papas—"Got a Feelin'"
- Ravi Shankar—"Raga Bhimpalasi" (actually "Dhun (Dadra and Fast Teental")
* = Studio version, played over film footage of pre-concert activity.
The order of performances in the film was rearranged from the order of appearance at the festival. Additionally many artists who appeared at the festival were not included in the original cut of the film. (For details on the festival lineup see Monterey Pop Festival.)
In 2002 Monterey Pop was released on DVD as part of a Criterion Collection box set, The Complete Monterey Pop Festival, that also includes Pennebaker's short films Jimi Plays Monterey (1986) and Shake! Otis at Monterey (1986), as well as two hours of outtake performances, including some by bands not seen in the original film. The box set was re-released in 2009 on Blu-ray.
Influential rock critic Robert Christgau considers Monterey Pop the best of the landmark '60s concert documentaries, saying "the music and its 50,000 or 90,000 celebrants are like a wonderful secret--wonderful because even though everyone knows about it, it still delivers the thrill of discovery. Unveiled in 1968, Pennebaker's vision of the 1967 event was instrumental in convincing potential organizers and participants that music was the healthiest way to crystallize the energy of a counterculture that by then seemed both blessedly inevitable and dangerously embattled."
Jean-Luc Godard, the French New Wave director, was so taken by Jefferson Airplane's performance in Monterey Pop that later in 1968 he set out to make a never-finished film called One A.M. (for "One American Movie") in collaboration with Pennebaker and Leacock. Godard shot a sequence of the Airplane, (included on the 2004 "Fly Jefferson Airplane" DVD), playing at high noon on a business day on the roof of a New York hotel across the street from the Leacock-Pennebaker offices, with the tower of Rockefeller Center in the background. Attracted by the extremely high volume of the music, the police arrived and put an end to the shooting. This incident inspired other bands, notably the Beatles in their Let It Be film, to mount their own rooftop performances.
The screening of the film in theaters nationwide helped raise the festival to mythic status, rapidly swelled the ranks of would-be festival-goers looking for the next festival, and inspired new entrepreneurs to stage more and more of them around the country.
In 1969, Michael Lang and Artie Kornfeld pitched an idea for a recording studio in Woodstock, New York to businessmen John P. Roberts and Joel Rosenman. In the documentary Woodstock: Now and Then, Rosenman states that what really caught his eye in the proposal was the suggestion that the studio would encourage occasional rock concerts in the town. Rosenman had watched Monterey Pop the day before meeting with Lang and Kornfeld and recalled thinking it one of the best films he had ever seen, and was excited about the notion of being part of something similar. Rosenman and Roberts agreed to bankroll Lang and Kornfeld in an effort that morphed into the 1969 Woodstock Festival.
- Christgau, Robert (January 14, 1997). "Found Weekend", The Village Voice. Retrieved March 18, 2013.
- Mankin, Bill (March 4, 2012). "We Can All Join In: How Rock Festivals Helped Change America", Like the Dew. Retrieved March 16, 2012.