Review by Dan Skip Allen
The punk rock scene of the ‘70s was a wild time. Bands like The Ramones, The Clash, and The Sex Pistols were some of the more popular bands of that era. Another one that was popular during that time was The New York Dolls. They had a lead singer known as David Johanson. He transcended punk rock and became an enigma all his own. Personality Crisis: One Night Only depicts his life and career.
Cafe Carlyle is a famous bar/restaurant in New York. Many musical acts have played there. This documentary focuses on David Johanson playing a set of his most famous songs and reminiscing about his life and career. His bout as the lead singer of the rock band The New York Dolls was the most popular part of his career, but he transitioned into something more. He has a pseudonym also known as Buster Poindexter. He recorded one of his most popular songs, “Hot Hot Hot.”
He was also an actor. He played the Ghost of Christmas Past in Scrooged, the Bill Murray version of the famous Charles Dickens tale A Christmas Carol. His career has had a lot of different aspects to it. That's where the archival footage comes in. While he's telling stories to the crowd at Cafe Carlyle, directors Martin Scorsese and David Tedeschi mix these elements nicely into a documentary.
The film features friends of the singer, such as Morrissey, who was the head of the New York Dolls Fan Club when he was younger. He plays a song in honor of his wife, during his set, Mara Hennessey. She has been an inspiration for him later in life. Love has always been something musicians can use to write songs about and be inspired to create entire albums and such. She was his muse in his later years.
The title of the film is one of the biggest hits of his career. Also, “Heart of Gold” and “Hot Hot Hot” are a few songs that became big. The latter got so big Johanson was sick of hearing it. It played all over the place at mitzvahs and weddings and various gatherings. The songs sung during the film were more blues mixed with rock ‘n roll.
Personality Crisis: One Night Only was a very good documentary about a singer and entertainer I was not familiar with. The punk rock scene was a bit before my time, but I caught onto it when I was a teenager and young adult. Johanson was a prolific singer-songwriter. He transcended the punk rock genre and became a blues rock man. Many of his bandmates and contemporaries passed away, but he found a way to survive and thrive. This film showed that about him. Scorsese and Tedeschi captured what this man was and is all about back in the day and today.
Personality Crisis: One Night Only debuts on Showtime on April 14 at 8pm ET/PT.