Documentary – Spector

Spector documentary poster

Steve Taylor-Bryant delves into a crime documentary from Sky and Showtime that starts with music and ends with tragedy as he watches Spector ...

There is a question many people ask themselves, myself included, and that is whether you can still love the art despite the behaviour of the artist? Is it okay to say, like Lethal Weapon because of Mel Gibson? Watch old Weinstein films because of the atrocities of Harvey? I start my article with this because the very subject is brought up by a journalist at the end of this documentary and I had forgotten all the incredible work Phil Spector was responsible for before watching this film, like Let It Be by The Beatles, and Imagine by John Lennon, The Righteous Brothers, Tina Turner, The Ronettes and so on and so forth. It is an uncomfortable question, as maybe it should be, and one that, like the journalist in the documentary, I do not have a clear answer to.

The film itself was fascinating, deep cut music from the very beginning, interviews from people that worked with Spector from the 1950’s onwards, a great and rich family history about a father who took his own life, an overbearing mother and possibly bipolar sister. The creation of the wall of sound that Spector used and interviews with musicians, chats with singers who were used and ultimately discarded, all built up a narrative of a driven and maybe somewhat selfish person that was going to succeed at all costs, was interesting to me and a part of the Spector story that I didn’t know. Time was spent on his later successes and his work with the likes of John Lennon, and then stories and accounts of his erratic behaviour and heavy drinking in later life occur. The first trial and mistrial judgement and the second trial and sentencing get a hefty time allowed to them and the interviews with both defence attorneys from the first trial and the District Attorney prosecutor who oversaw both trials are a real eye opener into both Spector and his state of mind, and the circus that surrounds celebrity and celebrity trials in California.

The two things that impressed me the most though, and make this particular film stand out more than other Spector documentaries in past years, was the inclusion and frank honesty of Spector’s daughter Nicole, who spoke with love and intelligence about her father whilst observing the crime at hand. Her recollection of the time talking with her father in a prison hospital dying from Covid-19 was very emotional and I admire Nicole Spector’s bravery. The other very impressive part of this documentary from directors Don Argott and Sheena M. Joyce is that, when it comes to the murder of Lana Clarkson, they don’t relegate this unfortunate young woman to the ‘B’ Movie actress blonde bimbo caricature that others have in the past. Lana Clarkson’s memory is treated with the utmost respect and Lana gets plenty of screen time to show what a remarkable and vibrant woman she was. The inclusion of her mother and friends add colour to an otherwise forgotten victim and add an element of realism to what could have been another glorification.

Spector is long, broken up into four episodes, and could have maybe spent less time in Spector’s glory years but is otherwise a great documentary about a crime that became a media circus. It allows the victim to maybe now rest in peace and should be commended for being so even handed.

Find Steve on Twitter as @STBwrites

Image – SkyTV

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