A day in Hollywood, 1972, with young people looking for the 24 hours that will change their lives. Zach will open that night for a British rocker at Whisky a Go-Go; he lives in a canyon and plays impromptu duets with a mysterious guitarist he doesn't see. Tammy is a costume designer, open to quick sex with the various rockers she works with and loved from afar by Michael, a photographer recovering from a case of the clap. His good friend is Felix, a morose, alcoholic songwriter. On hand for comic relief is Marty Shapiro, a fast-talking record producer. Getting ready for the gig at the club, Zach's performance, and the early-morning aftermath comprise the film.
This wistful soft-edged portrait of Rodney Bingenheimer, the elfin, vacant-eyed waif who presided for more two decades as a social impresario of the Los Angeles rock scene, keeps its claws carefully retracted but still leaves a bitter aftertaste. At the peak of his influence as a nightclub impresario and disc jockey, Mr. Bingenheimer, a quiet, wizened gnome of indeterminate age with a pageboy haircut, was a gatekeeper to the rock royalty. The movie is crammed with vintage photos and film clips of Mr. Bingenheimer escorting beautiful girls and celebrities into his so-called English disco, the tiny Los Angeles club he established during the heyday of British glam-rock. Hollywood is well stocked with oddballs like Mr. Bingenheimer who glean their self-worth from access to celebrity. But fame, observed up close, is a cold and voracious entity, and the "Mayor of the Sunset Strip," almost without trying, makes you feel its chilly pull. — Stephen Holden
2003-10-18 | Stephen Holden | Read the New York Times Review of Mayor of the Sunset Strip