A Mighty Wind
|A Mighty Wind|
|Directed by||Christopher Guest|
|Written by||Christopher Guest|
|Produced by||Karen Murphy|
|Edited by||Robert Leighton|
|Music by||Christopher Guest|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|April 16, 2003|
|Box office||$18.7 million|
A Mighty Wind is a 2003 American mockumentary comedy film about a folk music reunion concert in which three folk bands reunite for a television performance for the first time in decades. The film was co-written (with Eugene Levy), directed, and composed by Christopher Guest. The film is widely acknowledged to reference folk music producer Harold Leventhal as the inspiration for the character of Irving Steinbloom. More broadly, the film parodies the American folk music revival of the early 1960s and its personalities.
Guest co-stars and reunites many of his company of actors from This Is Spinal Tap, Waiting for Guffman, and Best in Show for this film. They include Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, Fred Willard, Bob Balaban, Ed Begley Jr., Jennifer Coolidge, John Michael Higgins, Jane Lynch and Parker Posey.
After fictional folk music producer Irving Steinbloom dies, his children Jonathan, Naomi, and Elliott organize a memorial concert, which they hope to feature his three most famous acts: The Folksmen, The New Main Street Singers, and Mitch & Mickey.
The Folksmen trio — Mark Shubb, Alan Barrows, and Jerry Palter — were once the most popular of the acts but have not appeared together in decades. They had several minor hits, and their most famous song was "Old Joe's Place." Despite not playing or seeing each other for many years, they diligently begin rehearsing for the concert. Although some tension arises over whether or not to include "Skeletons of Quinto", a convoluted song about the Spanish Civil War in their otherwise peppy set list, they are clearly happy to be working together again.
The New Main Street Singers are the second generation of the original Main Street Singers, formed by George Menschell, the only living member of the original group, who sings and holds a guitar he cannot play. Performers include Terry Bohner and his wife Laurie, a former adult film star, now founders of Witches in Nature's Colors (WINC), a coven of modern-day witches that worships the power of color. Another member is former juvenile delinquent Sissy Knox, the daughter of Fred Knox, one of the original Main Street Singers. Their manager is Mike LaFontaine, whose fifteen minutes of fame came via a failed 1970s sitcom, Wha' Happened? The show lasted for less than one season and has largely been forgotten, but LaFontaine is constantly puzzling others by quoting his catchphrases, including the show's titular tagline. The group is known for their complex harmonies, forming what Menschell terms a "neuftet."
Mitch Cohen and Mickey Crabbe appeared as Mitch & Mickey, a former couple that released seven albums until their dramatic break-up years before the events of the film. Mickey seemingly moved on and has married a medical supply salesman, but Mitch had an emotional breakdown and has never fully recovered. Their most famous song was "A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow," at the end of which the pair would kiss on stage. As Mitch and Mickey reunite and rehearse, romantic tension and personal regrets repeatedly threaten their participation in the concert.
The three groups, which had sunk to various levels of musical irrelevance since their respective heyday, agree to the reunion performance, to be held at The Town Hall in New York and televised live on PBN (a reference to PBS). The film features rehearsals for the show along with interviews with the performers discussing their activities over the previous years and their feelings about performing again.
The show itself goes off with only two hitches: The song that The Folksmen intend to open their set with is played first by the New Main Street Singers (a song called "Never Did No Wanderin'", which the Folksmen sing in a rugged, emotional manner consistent with the spirit of the song, while the New Main Street Singers perform it in their usual peppy, upbeat way), and Mitch temporarily disappears minutes before he and Mickey are to perform, forcing the Folksman to extend their set. It turns out that Mitch had gone to buy a rose for Mickey, which she gratefully accepts as they go on stage. Mitch and Mickey perform "A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow", and after a suspenseful pause, they do the much-anticipated kiss at the end. In the finale, all three acts sing "A Mighty Wind" together.
The film then jumps to interviews with many of the performers six months after the concert in which they detail subsequent events. Mickey is performing "The Sure-Flo Song" (about a medical device used for bladder control) at her husband's trade show booth. Mitch is writing poetry again, claiming to be in a "prolific phase." Mickey claims that Mitch overreacted to their onstage kiss, while Mitch insists that he no longer has feelings for Mickey, but had worried that Mickey's feelings for him might have returned. LaFontaine is trying to drum up interest for a sitcom starring the New Main Street Singers. He wants to call it "Supreme Folk" and have each play Supreme Court judges by day, folk singers sharing a house by night. The Folksmen have reunited, but Mark Shubb has realized that she is a transgender woman and has revamped her wardrobe. She continues to sing in her deep bass voice, followed now by a girlish giggle.
- Catherine O'Hara as Mickey Crabbe
- Eugene Levy as Mitch Cohen
- Harry Shearer as Mark Shubb
- Michael McKean as Jerry Palter
- Christopher Guest as Alan Barrows
- Jane Lynch as Laurie Bohner
- John Michael Higgins as Terry Bohner
- Parker Posey as Sissy Knox
- Fred Willard as Mike LaFontaine
- Bob Balaban as Jonathan Steinbloom
- Jennifer Coolidge as Amber Cole
- Christopher Moynihan as Sean Halloran
- Jim Piddock as Leonard Crabbe
- Don Lake as Elliott Steinbloom
- Deborah Theaker as Naomi Steinbloom
- Ed Begley Jr. as Lars Olfen
- Michael Hitchcock as Lawrence E. Turpin
- Larry Miller as Wally Fenton
- Rachael Harris as Steinbloom's Assistant
- Paul Dooley as George Menschell
- Jim Moret as Newscaster
- Laura Harris as Girl Klapper
- Stuart Luce as Irving Steinbloom
- Mary Gross as Ma Klapper
- Marty Belafsky as Ramblin' Sandy Pitnik
- Wendel Meldrum as Witch #1
Guest, McKean and Shearer first appeared as The Folksmen in a season 10 episode of Saturday Night Live that aired on November 3, 1984, when Guest and Shearer were both repertory cast members of the show and McKean was that week's host. Earlier that year, Guest, McKean and Shearer had appeared as the titular group in the mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap, a parody of aging heavy metal bands. McKean later stated, "I came and hosted a show, and in lieu of another 'Tap' piece, we did these guys."
In the commentary for the DVD release, Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy noted that, in a scene cut from the finished movie, it is explained that Menschell cannot play the guitar. However, just before a performance of the original Main Street Singers, he stained his shirt front and covered it up by holding a guitar for the performance, something he continued to do for all subsequent performances.
|A Mighty Wind: The Album|
|Soundtrack album by |
|Released||April 8, 2003|
|Venue||The Orpheum Theater, The Treehouse, The Village|
|Label||Columbia/DMZ/Sony Music Soundtrax|
|1.||"Old Joe's Place"||Christopher Guest/Michael McKean/Harry Shearer||The Folksmen||2:10|
|2.||"Just That Kinda Day"||Christopher Guest/Michael McKean||The New Main Street Singers||2:32|
|3.||"When You're Next to Me"||Eugene Levy||Mitch & Mickey||2:59|
|4.||"Never Did No Wanderin'"||Michael McKean/Harry Shearer||The Folksmen||3:04|
|5.||"Fare Away"||Michael McKean/C.J. Vanston||The New Main Street Singers||2:40|
|6.||"One More Time"||Eugene Levy/Catherine O'Hara||Mitch & Mickey||3:38|
|7.||"Loco Man"||Harry Shearer||The Folksmen||1:57|
|8.||"The Good Book Song"||Michael McKean/Rainer Ptacek/Harry Shearer||The New Main Street Singers||2:13|
|9.||"Skeletons of Quinto"||Christopher Guest||The Folksmen||3:28|
|10.||"Never Did No Wanderin'"||Michael McKean/Harry Shearer||The New Main Street Singers||2:46|
|11.||"The Ballad of Bobby and June"||Eugene Levy||Mitch & Mickey||4:08|
|12.||"Blood on the Coal"||Christopher Guest/Michael McKean/Harry Shearer||The Folksmen||3:07|
|13.||"Main Street Rag"||Arranged by John Michael Higgins||The New Main Street Singers||0:58|
|14.||"Start Me Up"||Mick Jagger/Keith Richards||The Folksmen||2:26|
|15.||"Potato's in the Paddy Wagon"||Michael McKean||The New Main Street Singers||2:11|
|16.||"A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow"||Michael McKean/Annette O'Toole||Mitch & Mickey||2:32|
|17.||"A Mighty Wind"||Christopher Guest/Eugene Levy/Michael McKean||The Folksmen/Mitch & Mickey/The New Main Street Singers||2:17|
Following the release of the film, the cast performed a show in character at the Getty Center in Los Angeles. This was followed by a seven-city U.S. tour in the fall of 2003 to promote the release of the film on DVD. The tour dates were: Philadelphia (Tower Theater, September 19), New York City (The Town Hall, September 20), Washington, D.C. (The 9:30 Club, September 21), Boston (Orpheum Theatre, September 22), Los Angeles (Wilshire Theatre, November 8), San Francisco (Warfield Theatre, November 9) and Seattle (McCaw Hall, November 14), with an additional performance in Vancouver, BC.
The film received mostly positive reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 87% based on reviews from 175 critics, and an average rating of 7.35/10, with the sites consensus, "Though not as uproariously funny as Guest's previous movies, A Mighty Wind is also more heartfelt." On Metacritic the film has a score of 81% based on reviews from 40 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".
San Francisco Chronicle's Mick LaSalle stated that it "gently caricatures the folk music scene with dozens of delicate brush strokes, creating a picture that's increasingly, gloriously funny – as in entire lines of dialogue are lost because the audience's laughing so hard." The review also displayed a drawing of the newspaper's character of The Little Man giving a standing ovation (the Chronicle's equivalent of a five-star rating). Roger Ebert, stated that "though there were many times when I laughed", "the edge is missing from Guest's usual style" perhaps because he "is too fond of the characters". Ebert gave the film two-and-a-half stars out of four.
Michael McKean and Annette O'Toole were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song, for the song "A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow," which was performed at the 76th Academy Awards by Levy and O'Hara (in character). "A Mighty Wind" won the Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media award for Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy, and Michael McKean at the 46th Grammy Awards.
The film had a moderate intake for its opening day in April 2003, grossing $307,931 in total. It went on to gross $2,112,140 in 133 theatres for an average of $15,880 per theatre. With a domestic total of $17,583,468 and an international total of $969,240, the film brought in a total of $18,750,246 during its theatrical run.
- "The Numbers". Nash Information Services. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
- "A Mighty Wind (2003)". Box Office Mojo.
- "A Mighty Wind". Turner Classic Movies. Atlanta: Turner Broadcasting System (Time Warner). Archived from the original on July 27, 2018. Retrieved July 11, 2016.
- Fox, Margalit (2005-10-06). "Harold Leventhal, Promoter of Folk Music, Dies at 86". New York Times.
- "A Mighty Wind - Michael McKean and Harry Shearer Interview". April 6, 2016. Archived from the original on 6 April 2016.
- Murray, Rebecca; Topel, Fred. "Interview with Harry Shearer and Michael McKean Two of "A Mighty Wind's" 'Folksmen'". About.com. Archived from the original on 2016-04-06. Retrieved March 23, 2016.
- Castillo, Arielle (April 24, 2009). "Q&A With Michael McKean of Spinal Tap, Appearing at the Fillmore Miami Beach on May 5!". Miami New Times. Retrieved January 12, 2020.
- Leopold, Todd (April 17, 2009). "Spinal Tap takes off the wigs". CNN. Retrieved January 12, 2020.
- "A Mighty Wind - The Album by A Mighty Wind (Motion Picture Soundtrack)". Amazon.com.
- "Billboard". 2003-05-10.
- "Mighty Wind: The Album - Original Soundtrack | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic.
- "Mighty Wind' tour whipping up renewed excitement". The Morning Call.
- Righi, Len (2003-09-18). "Mighty Wind' tour whipping up renewed excitement". The Morning Call.
- "A Mighty Wind Cast Reunites For Tour". Glide Magazine. 2003-09-08.
- Rob Evans (October 28, 2003). "'A Mighty Wind' cast takes its show out West". Archived from the original on 2014-05-19. Retrieved 2019-07-31.
- "A Mighty Wind: Live in Concert @ Wilshire Theatre Beverly Hills on November 08, 2003 - Rate Your Music".
- "A Mighty Wind (2003)". Rotten Tomatoes.
- "A Mighty Wind". Metacritic.
- "Howling in the 'Wind' Christopher Guest's mockumentary on folk music is the season's smartest comedy". 16 April 2003. Archived from the original on 2003-05-02. Retrieved 2019-07-31.
- Ebert, Roger. "A Mighty Wind Movie Review & Film Summary (2003)". www.rogerebert.com.
- "Oscars: The Top 8 Greatest Musical Moments". ABC News.