True Films

New York Doll


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Not many documentaries make me cry, but this one did. It recounts the unlikely rise, the predictable fall, and the final resurrection of a little-known rock musician. The Dolls were an early glam punk band partly responsible for reviving rock’n’roll in the 1970s by being outrageous and raucous. During their short-lived fame they inspired the Sex Pistols, the Stooges, and all the rest. But three of the six band members drugged themselves to death, and the fourth, bass player Arthur Kane, nearly drank to death. While Kane sank into alcoholic destitution, the other two survivors went on to rewarding musical careers, embittering Kane further. At a low point Kane saw an ad for a Bible and converted to Mormonism, eventually working as a white-shirt-and-tie clerk in a genealogical library of a Mormon temple. In his new-found spiritualism he had one prayer he refused to stop believing – that the Dolls would reunite. Thirty years later, somewhat miraculously, the band did reunite (with substitute new members) for a gala performance in London. This documentary follows Kane’s improbable come-back. We start with his humble job as a meek, almost angelic clerk. He’s so broke he can’t buy his own pawned guitar back. As his prayer comes true, he is suddenly catapulted onto the London stage in his place in the rock band that invented punk. To Arthur this was a divine appointment to make amends with the surviving members. The concert was a smash hit, and the guys were reconciled. Then in a cosmic ending, Arthur died within days of undetected leukemia. Above all else, this is a film about how every now and then someone does the impossible; they change.

– KK

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New York Doll
Directed by Greg Whiteley
2005, 78 min.
$3, Amazon Instant Video rental

Official website

Read more about the film at Wikipedia

Rent from Netflix

Available from Amazon

Posted September 11, 2006 at 10:56 pm | comments