John and Yoko: A Love Story
|John and Yoko: A Love Story|
|Directed by||Sandor Stern|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Executive producer(s)||John J. McMahon|
Terance T. Power (associate producer)
|Running time||146 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Carson Productions|
|Original release||December 2, 1985|
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 murder in 1980. The movie was made with the co-operation of Yoko Ono, who controlled the song rights.
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  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. He leaves and renounces the stay in India as not the answer to his problems. 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. However, John is arrested in Ringo's apartment for unknowingly possessing Hashish, in which Paul bails John out. This will become one of the factors in which John faced deportation in the United States.
Yoko later finds out she is pregnant with her and John's first child, but later miscarries. John, while driving with Yoko, Kyoko, and Julian through the British Countryside, gets involved in a car accident, which ends up in a ditch on the side of the road, where everybody suffers non-life-threatening wounds. 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. John and Yoko become involved with the "Bed In's" for peace in Amsterdam as well as in Montreal, which receive wide attention as a part of the peace movement. 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 band mate Ringo Starr again, along with Harry Nilsson, whom they go on drinking binges, in which John and Harry are thrown out of the Troubadour Theater in West Hollywood, for harassing the Smothers Brothers backstage, while being intoxicated by alcohol. In August, Lennon receives the good news, after watching Nixon's resignation speech, which is a sign of hope for Lennon. Some months later, Lennon befriends, Elton John, and is involved with recording a song with 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 on October 9, 1975, John Lennon receives a birthday present when Yoko, finally, gives birth, by Cesarian section, 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 it is 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".
|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|
The production of the movie required various song rights only available from Yoko Ono, thereby granting her some control over the content. 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.
Mark Lindsay was originally considered for the role of John Lennon, until a news story published in Britain revealed the actor's real name was Mark Chapman -- obviously too close to that of Mark David Chapman, Lennon's killer. (Chapman changed his name to Lindsay when he joined Equity, as there was already a Mark Chapman in the union.) Lindsey was quietly paid off and the role went to Mark McGann. Eventually Lindsay did portray Lennon, in the 2007 film Chapter 27, which ironically had Mark David Chapman as the lead character.
The movie begins in 1966 with the Beatles already showing signs of stress. The movie covers the period until his death.
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."
- O'Connor, John J. (December 2, 1985). "NBC'S 'JOHN AND YOKO: A LOVE STORY'". New York Times. Retrieved July 13, 2010.