There are few details of the short life of musical genius John Lennon that haven't been virtually memorized by his disciples. A bare-bones precis of his existence would include his Liverpool childhood, his formation of the Quarrymen, aka the Silver Beatles aka the Beatles in 1961, the world-wide fame, the drug-and-religion experimentation, the controversial alignment with Yoko Ono, the 1970 Beatles breakup, the five-year retirement (1975-80) to raise son Sean, and his senseless murder outside New York's Hotel Dakota in December of 1980.
Lennon's film career, though but one small aspect of his creative energies, is worth a brief recap. First there were the films with his fellow Beatles: A Hard Day's Night (64), Help (65) (in which for two delicious seconds Lennon shamelessly plugs his recently published book of doggerel In His Own Write), Yellow Submarine (67) (that's Lance Percival doing his speaking voice, but that's Lennon in the vocals), Magical Mystery Tour (69) and Let It Be (70). There was Lennon's one-and-only solo acting assignment as a bespectacled British Tommy in How I Won The War (68) -- in which, as he watches his guts spill out of his body, he turns to the camera and says ominously "I knew this would happen. Didn't you?" There were the oddball, home-movielike projects, made with his friends and with Yoko Ono, of which Bottoms (an engaging if pointless study of the human derriere) is the most entertaining. And, best of all, there was the posthumous, lovingly assembled Imagine: John Lennon (88), including the famous 1969 anti-war "Bed-In," the TV confrontation with ultraconservative cartoonist Al Capp, never before seen footage of Lennon at home and at work, and of course several plaintive renditions of the title song.