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Shout Factory presents
The Dick Cavett Show: John and Yoko Collection (1971-1972)

"I began to suspect she chain smoked, because every time I kissed her I burned my chin. And then I read it in an article."
- John Lennon

Review By: Mark Zimmer  
Published: October 30, 2005

Stars: Dick Cavett, John Lennon, Yoko Ono
Other Stars: Stan Freberg, Robert Citron, Shirley Maclaine
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (antiwar sentiments)
Run Time: 03h:19m:20s
Release Date: November 01, 2005
UPC: 826663588798
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Everyone has a favorite Beatle, and John Lennon probably ranks near the top of the list. Between his composing, distinctive vocals, dark wit, and saucy impertinence, there's ample reason for that choice. On the other hand, many Beatles fans consider Yoko Ono persona non grata and that was particularly true in the early 1970s in the aftermath of the breakup of the group. Lennon and Ono did few television interviews of any import, and the most substantial ones are the pair of sessions that they did with Dick Cavett. This followup collection to Rock Icons and The Ray Charles Collection is a worthy entry in the series that any fan will want to own.

The first session, aired September 11, 1971, really demonstrates Cavett's interviewing skills better than the Rock Icons set did. Lennon and Ono start off very ill at ease, and you can see Cavett visibly relax to put them at ease. Even though Lennon says he's fed up with talking about the Beatles and initially tries to stop any questioning down that road, Cavett does get him talking freely about the breakup and other issues. Much of the first program is devoted to their films, including Fly by Ono, consisting of flies crawling over a nude woman, set to her unusual vocal sounds, and John's Erection, which is a time-lapse view of construction of a hotel and not at all what one might think if the mind were in the gutter. There are also two proto-music videos, Yoko's Mrs. Lennon and John's Imagine video in support of the new album and single.

Cavett ended up putting the pair so at ease that they just continued to talk even after the show's length was in the can. The result was another half a program that aired later in September of 1971, which is almost entirely devoted to chatting. They discuss the point of the bed-in and their antiwar activism, and John also explains what he intended to be saying in the various versions of Revolution. The other guests in this program are Stan Freberg, who was deeply involved in antiwar activism, and several of his radio commercials in support of a resolution for withdrawal from Vietnam are included. Freberg also tells some wry tales of his earlier run-ins with John and Yoko. The final guest is Robert Citron, a scientist who studied short-lived phenomena. He shows footage of the birth of an island, and for crossword puzzle and Scrabble fans, he includes good footage of a'a.

The final program, from 1972, is less positive; during this period the Lennons were fighting deportation and also trying to get visitation rights with Yoko's daughter Kyoko. It's a very emotional discussion that lets one see the couple with little façade and in deep earnestness. The two perform a couple of songs live in this show, with backing band Elephant's Memory. The first is John's controversial song, Woman Is the Nigger of the World, and it's given a rousing and bluesy rendition here. Yoko performs We're All Water, which incorporates her conceptual artistry, especially in the final line about how "we will evaporate together." Her keening sounds like a saxophone here, and it blends with the real sax in an intriguing manner. The other half of the show is devoted to Shirley Maclaine, who was then on the stump for George McGovern (though she's prohibited from mentioning his name, she manages to get her point across). She discusses her film The Possession of Joel Delaney, but intriguingly she claims that she doesn't believe in the occult. How things have changed, in many more ways than one.

The programs are as originally aired, with censorship of language, plus of the photo of Kyoko, for inexplicable reasons, and the address for a children's hospital in Saigon that the couple were supporting. Although it might be disappointing for those looking for musical performances by John, one can get to know the couple in a vivid way that is truly unique. It's also odd to hear such vocal opposition to war on a mainstream network program; if this material aired today, all involved would find themselves in Guantanamo Bay wearing hoods. Highly recommended.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The material has a certain softness that makes it appear that it may have been shot on video. There's a fair amount of video noise as well, but the material is in good condition and colors and black levels are quite acceptable for 1970s television.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: The 2.0 mono sounds quite good, with plenty of clarity and range and surprisingly good bass on the music. The first episode has a high-pitched electronic squeal through much of the running time that's annoying at first but one eventually shuts it out.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 36 cues and remote access
1 Documentaries
Packaging: Digipak
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Introductions
Extras Review: Cavett provides brief introductions to each episode, giving his recollections about the filming. More substantial (and a little repetitive of these intros) is a 19m:10s discussion of his relationship with the Lennons, as he chats with comedian Martin Lewis. Cavett notes that he testified on Lennon's behalf at his deportation hearing, and also that after Lennon appeared on the program, the entire staff of the show was mysteriously audited by the IRS in apparent retaliation. It's interesting material that feels a bit too short.

Extras Grade: C


Final Comments

Get to know John and Yoko up close and personal in this two-disc set.


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