What was lost ... is found again!
Etiquette Pictures announced this past week that the late Patrick McGoohan’s only turn as a motion picture director, the 1974 ill-fated release of Catch My Soul, has been restored (a 2k scan) from the original 35mm camera negative and will be heading home as a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack release on Nov. 17.
When we say “ill-fated,” events definitely conspired to make Catch My Soul one of those “cult” films that peopled talked about, but few actually saw during its initial theatrical release during the spring of 1974. And then it was gone, thought to be lost.
It goes something like this. Former Shindig! producer and music talent manager Jack Good could see that “hip” stage musicals — rock operas — featuring contemporary artists had some real potential among Baby Boomers. The stage production of Hair was all the rage in 1968/69 and so Good hit upon adapting Shakespeare’s Othello as a rock opera, which he titled Catch My Soul.
As he was a visionary with Shindig!, so was he with Catch My Soul. He was literally in the right place at the right time.
The musical was a moderate stage success, moving from a small venue to a larger one and then touring throughout England (from 1969 until early 1972). During this period The Who had recorded the double-album Tommy in May of 1969 (which only confirmed Good’s instincts) and in 1970, the song-writing team of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice came up with a little ditty titled Jesus Christ Superstar.
And here is where everything went off the rails, so to speak. Jesus Christ Superstar moved from concept album to Broadway to a major film production from Universal Studios, hitting theatres on a major, well-financed break during the summer of 1973.
Meanwhile, Catch My Soul finished its stage run and went into production as film as well, but it was running behind Jesus Christ Superstar and instead of a major studio leading the way, Catch My Soul was shepherd to market by Cinerama Releasing, which by the spring of 1974 was in its death throes (the company was gone by summer’s end).
There were other issues relating to changes in Jack Good’s life about this time, but what emerged as a final cut of the film — especially after 40 years of “cult-fermenting” — is one for the ages.
Catch My Soul has a terrific musical track, but the plot structure — a hippy commune in New Mexico — populated by hippy versions of Shakespeare’s Othello characters, smacks more of an acid-fueled summer stock production than a theatrical rival to Jesus Christ Superstar.
But that’s the beauty of it! Singer, guitarist, songwriter and Woodstock sensation Richie Havens stars as Othello, that’s inspired! Others in the cast are Season Hubley as Desdemona (in only her second film), singer Tony Joe White as Cassio (fresh from such Billboard Chart hits as “Polk Salad Annie” and “Rainy Night in Georgia” — he also composed many of the songs used in the film and does all of his own singing), Lance LeGault as Iago (began his career as stunt double for Elvis and would go onto become a well-known character actor and voice talent) and Susan Tyrrell as Emilia (Oscar-nominated for her performance in Fat City).
Hell of cast, great concept, wonderful soundtrack and a total TRIP! That’s what Etiquette Pictures has in store for both fans and the curious on Nov. 17.
Bonus goodies include the making-of featurette titled “Drink the Wine, Eat the Bread,” a video session with Tony Joe White that is titled “The Deacon Speaks” and the featurette titled “True Soul,” which focuses on the film’s cinematographer, Conrad L. Hall (nominated for ten Oscars, with wins for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), American Beauty (1999) and Road to Perdition (2002)).