Jump to content

Wonderwall (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Theatrical release poster
Directed byJoe Massot
Screenplay byG. Caín
Story byGérard Brach
Produced byAndrew Braunsberg
CinematographyHarry Waxman
Edited byRusty Coppleman
Music byGeorge Harrison
Alan Clore Films
Distributed byCompton-Cameo Films
Release dates
  • 17 May 1968 (1968-05-17) (Cannes)
  • 12 January 1969 (1969-01-12) (United Kingdom)
Running time
85 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

Wonderwall is a 1968 British psychedelic film directed by Joe Massot (in his feature directorial debut) and starring Jack MacGowran, Jane Birkin, Irene Handl, Richard Wattis and Iain Quarrier, with a cameo by Dutch collective the Fool, who were also set designers for the film.[1]

The soundtrack was composed by George Harrison and released as Wonderwall Music.


The reclusive, eccentric scientist Oscar Collins has two next-door neighbours: a pop photographer and his girlfriend/model Penny Lane. Discovering a beam of light streaming through a hole in the wall between them, Collins follows the light and spots Penny modelling for a photo shoot. He begins to make more holes as days go by and becomes a Peeping Tom as they do more photo sessions. Oscar gradually becomes infatuated with the girl, and feels a part of the couple's lives, even forsaking work to observe them. When they quarrel and the couple splits, Penny takes an overdose of pills and passes out, but Oscar comes to her rescue.



The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on 17 May 1968, with George Harrison, his wife Pattie, Ringo Starr, his wife Maureen, and the cast members of the film in attendance. The premiere in London was on 12 January 1969. The film won an award, but did not gain a proper distribution deal. A print finally appeared on the American midnight movies circuit in the 1970s, and on home video in the 1980s and 1990s, all of rather low technical quality.

In 1998, 30 years after the film's release, and with Massot an established film director, he decided to restore and re-release his first film. Harrison's search for master recordings turned up a lyrical song, "In the First Place" by the Remo Four, which he had not submitted the first time around, believing Massot wanted only instrumental music. "In the First Place" was released as a single in 1999. Harrison is believed to have not only produced it, but also sung and played on it, although he asked to be credited only as producer. Massot was happy to include the song in the restored film, which got a distribution deal.

The restored version of Wonderwall, both in theatrical and director's cut versions, is available on HD blu-ray and low definition DVD through Shout! Factory in the United States, with bonus features.[2]

Critical reception[edit]

The Monthly Film Bulletin wrote: "Skeletally, there is an idea here that might have worked – an idea, conceivably, for Polanski, Gerard Brach's usual collaborator. The treatment here, though, is almost wilfully self-destructive. On one side of the wall, there is Oscar living the standard farce life of the absent-minded professor, complete with quaint char Irene Handl and timid assistant Richard Wattis. On the other side loom the usual inert Swinging London fantasies – pop colours, art nouveau, Oriental bric-a-brac, Oriental Beatle music, a kind of bargain basement of pop. Assheton Gorton's sets have possibilities, particularly the jumbled accumulation of the ages in Oscar's flat and the vaguely pre-Raphaelite legends around the walls. But all this dated modishness is treated as though its mere presence were enough, so that the effect is a jangle of self-indulgent whimsy."[3]

Budd Wilkins, writing for Slant Magazine, criticized the "slender-to-the-edge-of-nonexistent narrative" and "hopelessly square" underlying point, but enjoyed the film overall, saying it was "best taken for the sensory provocation of its eye-popping set designs and the spaced-out world music ambience of its soundtrack" in his 3.5/5 star review.[4]

Keith Phipps, reviewing the film for The Dissolve, wrote "The film is mostly just an excuse to experiment. And while not all the experiments work out, the film remains a charming relic of a bygone era of light shows, sitar sounds, and over-the-top symbolism."[5]


  1. ^ "Wonderwall". British Film Institute Collections Search. Retrieved 27 December 2023.
  2. ^ "Wonderwall" on the Shout! Factory website
  3. ^ "Wonderwall". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 36 (420): 37. 1 January 1969 – via ProQuest.
  4. ^ Wilkins, Budd (28 April 2014). "Blu-ray Review: Wonderwall". Slant Magazine.
  5. ^ Phipps, Keith. "Wonderwall". The Dissolve.

External links[edit]