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The Mayor of the Sunset Strip (2003)

Cast: Rodney Bingenheimer, Rodney Bingenheimer, Lance Loud, more...
Director: George Hickenlooper, George Hickenlooper
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: First Look Pictures
Genre: Documentary, Music, Biographies, Documentary, Music
Running Time: 94 min.
Languages: English
Subtitles: Spanish
    see additional details...

When Rodney Bingenheimer was just a teenager -- a diminutive, long-haired kid who was picked on a lot -- his mother, a divorced autograph hound, dropped him off in front of the home of actress Connie Stevens and essentially said, "Good luck." Stevens was on location shooting a movie and Bingenheimer says he didn't see his mother again for five or six years after that. The Mayor of the Sunset Strip, a documentary by George Hickenlooper (Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse), tracks Bingenheimer's rise from the 1960s, when he was a groupie -- eventually landing his first show-business job as a double for Davy Jones on The Monkees -- through stints as a successful club owner and influential DJ to his current status as a fading musical icon. The film takes us from the innocent pop of Brian Wilson and Sonny & Cher through the raucous heyday of L.A.'s punk scene and beyond. Hickenlooper also delves into Bingenheimer's relationships, showing him mourning his neglectful and unbalanced, but beloved, mother and visiting with his father, who never attempted to make contact with Bingenheimer after his mother abandoned him. He also pines for a close friend, Camille Chancery, and helps out a seemingly hopeless middle-aged wannabe rock star, Ronald Vaughan. While Bingenheimer used his skills as a consummate hanger-on and his genuine enthusiasm for rock & roll to become a central figure in the L.A. music scene for a couple of decades and is lauded in the film for his good taste and good nature by celebrities from Cher to David Bowie to Gwen Stefani, his current life is shown to be somewhat sad and lonely. The Mayor of the Sunset Strip is chock full of cameos and features a star-studded soundtrack. It was shown at the 2003 New York Film Festival. ~ Josh Ralske, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

throw this guy a bone by GLowe November 8, 2004 - 2:09 PM PST
0 out of 4 members found this review helpful
I listened to Rodney growing up around LA in the early 80's. Seeing him introduce the 3O'Clock for one of their first big shows was a memory ever lasting. He was always an Icon in my world. But this film was just sad. I shows that no matter how much Rodney did for the music and no matter how many people he knows, he is a lonely and troubled guy. I would have thought that after all these years he would have almost anything he wanted. Instead, he seems to have navigated his life to be a dismal and lonely place. The film itself is so diconcerting in many ways, I did not want to finish watching it. Maybe it is just because I expected to see Rodney thriving. What gets me too is that he seems to have no money. WHAT? Geesh. I guess in it all I just can't get past my expectations. But, if that is the truth, well I guess I just didn't like this film. SOMEONE please help RODNEY!!

Amazing by dfruehe September 7, 2004 - 11:35 AM PDT
1 out of 2 members found this review helpful
For anyone who is interested in LA, Rock and Roll and pop culture... this documentary shouldn't be missed!

A Heartbreaker of Sorts by talltale August 21, 2004 - 5:37 PM PDT
5 out of 6 members found this review helpful
MAYOR OF THE SUNSET STRIP is a fascinating, funny, unusual and finally heartbreaking documentary about a fellow who's been pivotal to the LA music scene for decades yet is fairly unknown outside those "hot-house" confines. The interesting and off-kilter director George Hickenlooper has chosen to tell Rodney Bingenheimer's story somewhat obliquely. We learn as we go-- haltingly and sometimes a bit shockingly. Rodney seems generally sweet, quiet, much loved (except by his family), evasive, sudden angry when he feels betrayed, and mostly just sad. Kind of like a lot of us. He's public in some ways, incredibly private in others. He never discusses his sexuality, but he certainly must be gay. In this he mimics Warhol (whom he knew). What fun it is to see the old clips of everyone from Cher to Nancy Sinatra, Brian Wilson and almost everyone who was anyone in the music scene for over 20 years. Music fans will eat this one up, but documentary lovers should go for it, too. I found the ending spectacularly ironic and sorrowful, but Hickenlooper never tells the viewer how to feel. He just shows--and quite well, too.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.48)
83 Votes
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