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The U.S. vs. John Lennon

Music Video & Concerts movie directed by David Leaf and John Scheinfeld

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U.S. vs. John Lennon - 2006

  • Apr 16, 2010
Pros: interesting interviews, startling information

Cons: a bit long

The Bottom Line:
"Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace..."

When I started watching U.S. vs. John Lennon I was taken back to some trying and difficult times. I’ll admit straight up I was no fan of the Beatles and I had a vague recollection of some hard times against Lennon, but I will also admit I never realized the depth of the trouble.

I come from a lower-middle-class family. Just a short hop above poor. We spent little time involving ourselves in things in the news and had it not been for my brothers delivering the newspaper, we probably wouldn’t have even had that in our house. I vaguely remember Eisenhower as president. We were just too busy working everyday, scratching out a living. Things involving someone named John Lennon had little consequence to me.

As I discovered in the documentary presented by writers/directors David Leaf and John Scheinfeld, there were evil forces at work that I should have been more aware of. I won’t go so far as to believe the white wash they gave Lennon on this film, I am sure he had some dirty little secrets. But I will applaud his concepts and the fact that he wasn’t afraid to do something most of us won’t do … speak out for our rights.

Even as interesting and informative as this documentary is, I found the snippets disclosed on the extras as a lot more telling. People speaking out like John Dean, Ron Kovic, George McGovern, Bobby Seale, Angela Davis, just to name a few. A good deal of the film is archived footage, but a lot are live interviews, especially the pieces in the extras.

One must admit Lennon was a controversial figure but he wasn’t afraid to speak his mind. For the most part his arguments were well grounded and he seemed to have been fairly knowledgeable about the workings of the government and the world in general.

Speakers included in the documentary [some through archive footage] included: John Lennon, Stew Albert, Tariq Ali, Carl Bernstein, Robin Blackburn, Chris Chrlesworth, Noam Chomsky, Walter Cronkite, Mario Cuomo, Angela Davis, John Dean, Felix Dennis, David Fenton, Bob Gruen, Ron Kovic, Paul Krassner, Yoko Ono, G. Gordon Liddy, George McGovern, Elliot Mintz, David Peel, Dan Richter, Geraldo Rivera, Jack Ryan, Bobby Seale, John Sinclair, Tom Smothers, M. Wesley Swearingen, Joe Treen, Gore Vidal, Jon Weiner, Leon Wildes, Dick Cavett, John Chancellor, Everett Dirksen, Mike Douglas, Gloria Emerson, H. R. Haldeman, Abbie Hoffman, Hubert H. Humphrey, Lyndon Johnson, Martin Luther King, Sean Lennon, John Mitchell, Jerry Rubin, Richard Nixon, Strom Thurmond.

One of the most remarkable things I discovered about Lennon is that he never appeared publicly again for personal gain after the Beatles broke up. All his appearances were for benefits, he received no pay for any work he did in concert. I found this an outstanding testament of the type of man he was.

Naturally a good deal of his deeds were glossed over or completely left out. Then, again, this film was meant to make a statement about Lennon’s treatment at the hands of the Nixon era and all its minions. There were some disturbing truths revealed and, at times, some of the people seemed absolutely giddy in their remarks. Pleased, almost, at the lengths they went to in their investigations.

The film was nominated for one award and has a PG-13 rating for language, violent images and drug references. When I think of it, all of those images were shown on the news and people of all ages viewed it. But these were troubled times. The world was black and the news reeked of the daily body count. Why did we ever stand for that behavior?

DVD extras include [and worth the watch]:
10 deleted sections
Becoming John Lennon
Power to the People
Dissent vs. Disloyalty
Then & Now
Walter Cronkite Meets the Beatles
The Two Virgins Album Cover
Sometime in New York
The One to One Benefit Concert
Yoko Ono Lennon’s Letter to the Parole Board

Like Ron Kovic says, we could use John around again. The world has forgotten.


This is my submission to the captainD Good Movies Write-Off 3


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More The U.S. vs. John Lennon reviews
Quick Tip by . April 27, 2010
An instant classic rock doc that shows how scared conservatives are of leftist artists in the media. Nixon versus Lennon... Guess who won?
review by . April 18, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
'The U.S. vs. John Lennon' is made in two parts: There are the newsreels and the interviews. Then, there are the references to his life and to his involvement in the protest movement. David Leaf's documentary wisely pieces together Lennon's life that made him a rebel and an activist--particularly for peace. Featuring interviews that are intersliced between the archives, everyone from fellow activists (Jerry Reuben, Ron Kovic) [author of 'Born on the Fourth of July'], Black Panthers (Angela Davis), …
review by . March 18, 2007
This movie is about the political activities of John Lennon during the late 1960s and 1970s in which he supported the peace movement. This included public speeches, demonstrations, and formation of friendships with activists such as Rubin, Seale, Hoffman, and others under the watch of the US Federal Government. As a result, the Lennon came under the close scrutiny of the Nixon administration. The latter tried to deport him but he fought and fought, and eventually won his case, ironically on the …
review by . October 25, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
The movie was produced by one of my favorite and most trusted of independent film companies: Lionsgate Entertainment. They tend to put out high quality movies that i don't have to think twice about seeing.    After about 2 minutes into it I knew something was quite different about this documentary. Either Leaf and Scheinfeld are amazingly crafty or Lionsgate hired some premium Avid Xpress editors, because they managed to make the stills from the 60s and 70s come alive. They moved …
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Susi Dawson ()
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In retrospect, it seems absurd that the United States government felt so threatened by the presence of John Lennon that they tried to have him deported. But that's what happened, as chronicled in directors David Leaf and John Scheinfeld'sThe U.S. vs. John Lennon. The film starts slowly, with a familiar look at the former Beatle's troubled childhood, his outspokenness as one of the Fabs ("We're more popular now than Jesus Christ," etc.), and his eventual hookup with Yoko Ono, paralleled by the growth of political protest in '60s America, particularly against the Vietnam War. John and Yoko went on to stage their own peaceful demonstrations, like the Canadian "bed-ins," but these were largely harmless media stunts. It was when the Lennons moved to New York in the early '70s and took a more active role in the anti-war movement, making friends with radicals like Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, and Black Panther Party founder Bobby Seale, that the government got interested--and paranoid--and men like President Richard Nixon, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, and right-wing Sen. Strom Thurmond began actively looking for ways to silence him (it was Thurmond who came up with the deportation idea). That's also when the film picks up. An array of talking heads weighs in, ranging from Ono and others sympathetic to Lennon's plight (Walter Cronkite, Sen. George McGovern, even Geraldo Rivera) to those on the other side, including Watergate ...
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Genre: Music, Musical
Screen Writer: David Leaf, John Scheinfeld
DVD Release Date: February 13, 2007
Runtime: 99 minutes
Studio: Lions Gate
First to Review

"Worth watching."
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