New York Doll
Produced by Ed Cunningham, Seth Lewis Gordon
Directed by Greg Whiteley
Production Company: One Potato Productions
Premiere Date: October 28, 2005
Length: 78 min.
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Minor Mormon Elements
Subjects: rock and roll; Mormonism;
From the DVD cover: "Arthur 'Killer' Kane of the legendary band The New York Dolls rockets to the top of the glam rock scene. Then with the death of a band member, the group bottoms out and eventually splits up. Arthur disappears from the music scene and in a surprising twist of fate, becomes a devout Mormon. Years later, Morrissey (of the Smiths) offers Arthur the opportunity to go back into the limelight and revisit a life he thought was lost forever. See this heartfelt story about second chances and an incredible music journey."
The film tells Arthur's backstory through interviews and archival footage, then moves into the present when Arthur prays for and then learns of the reunion at Morrissey's Meltdown Festival at Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank in London. The film follows Arthur from Los Angeles, where he works in the LDS Family History Center adjacent to the LDS temple, to New York City for rehearsals and a reunion with his estranged friend and band member David Johansen, and then to London for the group's--hopefully--triumphant musical return.
See Mormon Film: Key Films of the Fifth Wave
Director Greg Whiteley met Kane when he moved into his ward in Los Angeles and only gradually became aware of his celebrity history. The filming began when Kane needed a ride to the pawn shop to get his bass guitar out of hawk, a sequence included in the film. Becoming aware of the potential of a feature film, Whiteley, along with the small crew and a few others, accompanied Kane on his entire journey (though he is not a character in the film, Whiteley does appear in some shots, such as walking with Kane down a street in New York). Some interviews and other materials--particularly the archival footage and animation--were added in the long postproduction process (typical of documentaries), and the film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in early 2005. First Independent Pictures acquired distribution rights, and several months were spent polishing the film and securing rights to the many songs included in the soundtrack, resulting in a release late that autumn (the date listed above). Excel Entertainment subcontracted distribution within the Mormon heartland of Utah-Idaho-Arizona.
Commercially, New York Doll did well in its theatrical run--appealing to both Mormons and musicians--though it could have been marketed more aggressively. The DVD was released in April 2006. The film has received great critical attention among Latter-day Saints, winning the Association for Mormon Letters' award in film for 2005 and showing two consecutive years at the Sundance Symposium in Salt Lake City.
Though it has its critics, within and outside the LDS Church, New York Doll has generally been seen as representing a great stride forward in LDS-themed documentary, especially in contrast to the traditional historical film.
It was apparently shot on a Panasonic DVX100 (or DVX100A) in 24p, with occasional use of multiple cameras (seen, for instance, in David Johansen's arrival at the New York City rehearsal). There are two versions of the DVD, one that is the theatrical version and one which has censored a few profanities, apparently to appeal to the LDS audience.
Dates Spanned in work:
Grand Jury Prize nominee at 2005 Sundance Film Festival
2005 Award in Film from the Association for Mormon Letters
View BYU Library catalog record
HBLL Call No: DVDMM 261
Medium: Mini-DV color
Cast Members: Arthur "Killer" Kane - himself; Sir Bob Geldof - himself; Chrissie Hynde - herself; Stuart Wilder - himself; Iggy Pop - himself; Bob Gruen - himself; Nina Antonia - herself; Earl Sanders - himself; Sister Miller - herself; Sister Larson - herself; Morissey - himself; Clem Burke - himself; Leee Black Childers - himself; Mick Jones - himself; Sami Yaffa - himself; Barbara Kane - herself; Bishop Mac McGregor - himself; Bishop Mark Bragg - himself; Rick Rivets - himself; Christian Black - himself; Dawn Laureen - herself; Lyn Todd - herself; Rust Tippett - himself; Frank Infante - himself; Sirius Trixon - himself; Steve Conte - himself; Sylvain Sylvain - himself; Brady Totten - himself; Brian Koonin - himself; David Johansen - himself; Tony James - himself; Don Letts - himself; Mara Hennessey - herself
Film Editor: Greg Whiteley
Cinematographer: Roderick A. Santiano
Certification: MPAA: PG-13
Distributor: First Independent Pictures