Movie review: Documentary on Who managers lacks any clear focus

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

“Their original intent was to make a movie, not manage a band. And they ended up doing both.” That statement comes from Pete Townshend about Chris Stamp and Kit Lambert. The band in question, obviously, would become The Who.

The documentary “Lambert & Stamp” is ostensibly about the men who would become managers of one of the world’s great rock bands. It’s also about the band, of course, and the cultural state of ’60s London and whatnot.

Therein lies the problem. With an interesting topic and a wealth of truly amazing file footage, “Lambert & Stamp” manages to be so unfocused it becomes for hardcore fans only.

The mix of footage from the rise of The Who (and before) and present-day interviews with most of the key figures (Lambert died in 1981) should be a winning combination for a rock doc, but this one just can’t decide what it’s actually about — even with the subjects in the title.

Perhaps the issue is that Lambert and Stamp are obviously less known than Townshend and Roger Daltrey. There are more than a few great anecdotes and sound bites from those two. “I didn’t want to be in a band until I was 61,” Townshend says. “I wanted to be in a band for a couple years.”

But band anecdotes often feel tangential. There’s a meandering thread about Lambert being a homosexual at a time in which that was outright illegal in London as well, but this shotgun approach turns a potentially great doc into an odd salad.

** Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

"Lambert & Stamp"

Opens Friday at the Drexel Theater and Gateway Film Center

2 stars out of 4