So I recently tracked down a good quality copy of the 1975 documentary ‘Cracked Actor’. Filmed during David Bowie’s 1974 Diamond Dogs tour of the United States, it features him during his thin white duke stage when he was living up to the character’s name in a blizzard of powder and paranoia.
Originally made by the BBC for their Omnibus series, the film follows Bowie from stage to stage and from hotel room to hotel room, as he meanders his way round the western states in the back of a limo and prepares for his gigs.
Bowie is an evasive interviewee and like Mick Jagger is well aware of public personas and myth making. You rarely get the feeling he’s being entirely honest with the documentarians, but merely playing a character, despite this tour being about him supposedly ridding himself of his most famous one (Ziggy Stardust).
There are some good performances in here though and the viewer is made aware of just how extravagant a 1970s stage show could be – with Bowie riding cherry pickers and emerging out of huge jewelled gloves whilst singing songs like Rebel Rebel and Moonage Daydream.
The film (though interesting in parts) is far from superlative, so for the casual Bowie fan like myself this film is mainly a curio piece. As with the Rolling Stones ‘Cocksucker Blues’ (1972), I was principally watching to catch glimpses of insanity and rampant chemical abuse such as the following example at the 5:40 mark on the clip below…
Or 22 seconds into this one…
The director seems a bit confused sometimes at what direction he’s taking, but at only 54 minutes it nonetheless manages to document one of the more special periods of Bowie’s career, if not one of the most famous.
Posted by Horatio Cornblower