CineHoax : “Paul McCartney Really Is Dead”

Posted: June 27, 2011 in movies
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

So, here we’re kicking off what looks to be a two-part sidebar (I’ll get around to the next film going under this banner sometime in the next week or two) your hose has decided to call “CineHoax” for reasons that should be pretty damn obvious pretty damn quickly. We’ll start at the supposed beginning and go from there —

In the summer of 2005, the Hollywood offices of fourth-rate rock n’ roll documentary producers Highway 61 Entertainment purportedly received a package in the mail from London with no return address (which raises the question how did they know it was, specifically, from London, and not just the UK?) that purportedly contained two microcassettes purportedly dated December 30, 1999 that (again, purportedly) contained the voice of George Harrison relating an amazing story — the Paul McCartney “death hoax” stuff that’s been floating around over the years is all true! The “real” McCartney apparently died in a car crash in 1966 after storming out of the recording studio following a heated argument with John Lennon and was replaced with a double (apparently some clown who won a Paul McCartney look-alike contest) at the behest of British intelligence in order to prevent what they felt was the mass suicide of hysterical Beatles fans (particularly of the teenage female variety) that would inevitable follow should news of this tragic accident reach the public.

For the rest of their career, both together and apart, the Fab Four were closely monitored by MI-5 to prevent them from spilling the beans on this, the original great rock n’ roll swindle — being the clever lads they were, however, the Beatles managed to sneak a few clues about the “truth” of the situation into various recordings through the miracle of backward-masking audio, and the result has been a slow but steady buzz that’s continued for over four decades.

Highway 61 president (and director of this “documentary”) Joel Gilbert apparently felt that, even though the material contained on these tapes could, of course, never be verified, the “information” contained on them is so explosive and revelatory that he just couldn’t sit on it forever — rather, being the massive humanitarian that he is, Gilbert had to get this information out somehow, no matter the risk to his own health and safety, and the result is the 2010 straight-to-DVD release Paul McCartney Really Is Dead : The Last Testament Of George Harrison?, a “film” which, in all honesty, is nothing more than a 95-minute voice-over of the “Harrison” recordings playing over a series of graphics, still photos, and backward-masking audio loops (obviously getting clearance to include any actual Beatles music was going to be waaaaaaayyyy far out of the question here). So, how convincing a case does this “blockbuster expose” present?

Well, let me be far from the first to call bullshit on some pretty obvious stuff here : to start with, the voice that the producers claim sounds “eerily like” Harrison sounds a lot more like an out-of-work American actor trying desperately to maintain a working-class Liverpudlian accent that Harrison no doubt — uhmmmmm — grew out of (or ditched, depending on how cynical about all things celebrity you might be) as time wore on. I’ve checked out a few YouTube clips of Harrison for the sake of comparison, and they pretty much sound nothing alike. Next up, there’s the “mysterious” origins of the tapes — my best guess, and mind you it’s only a guess, is that the original source of these “too hot to handle” recordings is Highway 61 Productions themselves. Now, they probably did, in fact, go to the trouble, after recording them, of then sending them to an associate in the UK who would then mail them back, unaddressed, in order to have a semi-plausible cover story, but this whole production strikes me as a thoroughly in-house affair from start to finish. And finally, we’ve got the plausibility of the whole story itself — sorry, but it’s just too soap opera to be all that believable. Paul and John have a fight — Paul storms off in his car — he’s not paying attention, and the weather bad — blam!, it’s all over, and the cover-up begins —

All of which is not to say, however, that I don’t think the “real” Paul might indeed be dead. Frankly, I have an open mind on the subject. But not because of anything presented in this flick. on the contrary, this production strikes me as the classic intelligence agency “double-bluff,” which basically works thusly —

Let’s say you’re a government agency or mega-corporate enterprise (what’s the difference, anyway?) and you’ve got some secret. It’s leaked out a bit, on whatever rudimentary level, and could cause you some headaches if it gains anything like real traction in the press. The best way to discredit it, as anybody involved in research fields as various and sundry as the Kennedy assassination of UFOs will tell you, is to “put it out there,” as it were, albeit in a form that strains credulity so far beyond the breaking point that it will thoroughly negate the story and consequently portray anybody involved in continuing to research it as a loon. So, if you’re British MI-5 and you want to discredit all “Paul is dead” theories and the folks pursuing them, the best way to do it is to put out your own film that says “hey, yes, Paul really might be dead” but do such a half-assed job of it that it makes any further investigation into the topic look like a waste of time. Throw in a few half-truths to make the premise itself or the research springing from it meet the unspoken standard that causes the average viewer to say to him-or herself “well, I guess I can see why they looked into this, but c’mon, people, this is just grasping at straws” as they watch with increasingly detached bemusement, and you’re all set. Mission fucking accomplished.

So, oddly (or perhaps not so oddly) enough, Paul McCartney Really Is Dead does provide some roundabout evidence to support its central claim(in fact, the existence of the film itself is this evidence) — not by advancing anything like a realistic and convincing examination of the rumors surrounding McCartney’s possible demise, but by doing such a shitty, third-rate, amateurish job of it that a questioning person has honestly gotta wonder if maybe there’s something to all this because the powers-that-be are so obviously still trying to discredit this whole line of investigation by dropping crap like this in the public’s lap. maybe Highway 61 Entertainment is being used deliberately, or maybe they just found a conveniently desperate huckster to peddle their wares through, but one way or another, by making “Paul is dead” research look like a fringe topic of concern to no one but sad obsessives, Joel Gilbert and company are playing right into the hands of the folks who would want to keep McCartney’s death a secret if it really did happen.

As to whether or not I personally think that Paul McCartney died in 1966 and was replaced by a double. I’ll just say this —

Given that McCartney’s post-Beatles career is made up of simple-minded drivel like “Silly Love Songs” and the truly, almost incomparably loathsome pro-“war on terrorism” anthem “Freedom” (which undoubtedly had both George Harrison and John Lennon spinning in their graves), does it really matter?

  1. apollo c vermouth says:

    Trash indeed.
    Another dude taking on this dope film about a children’s fairy tale.
    Something with an easy and predictable conclusion.

    Speaking of simple-minded drivel, this authors opinion, does it really matter?

    • trashfilmguru says:

      In the general scheme of things, I suppose not, but hey, it’s my blog, so there you go. In the larger sense, though, does your opinion matter, either? Do any of ours?

  2. Great review, but you missed the major travesty of this film. According to “mr. Harrison”, Paul died on 11-9-1966. He went on to talk about all of the clues on Rubber Soul ( Nowhere Man, Girl, and other clues I missed cause I was laughing so hard) as well as the album cover shot from the perspective of Paul in the grave. However- Rubber Soul was released in December of 1965! That’s right, one year before paul’s death!

    • trashfilmguru says:

      Thanks, I’ll be honest — I caught that during the film, but was too busy ranting about my “big-picture” theory of what this movie’s all about on this blog post to dwell on the details, as I should have done. I’m glad you brought this point up!

  3. I figured you caught that. Ther were so many holes in the story that it must have been tough to choose what to write about….

    • trashfilmguru says:

      It was! I thought the best way way was just to take a “big picture” approach and trash the whole thing in its entirey rather than dwell on specifics too much because one never knows who’s reading your blog. It could be somebody with no inkling whatsover of the “Paul is dead” rumors, or it could be somebody with detailed knowledge of all Beatles minutiae. Unless you want to just write for a specific type of reader, you have to sort of tailor a review to appeal to as broad an audience as possible. That’s why the comments sections is great — other people can come along and fill in the blans the reviewer (in this case, me) left out. Interesting to note that this film actually does have some positive reviews up on IMDB, my gut feeling is that they’re all written by shills for Highway 61 Entertainment, but who knows, maybe somebody out there actually thinks this thing makes a good case. I frankly don’t see how anybody could fall for any of it, though, given that two seconds of “research” is all it takes know this guy sounds nothing like Harrison — in fact, doesn’t even sound British. I’ll stand by my assertion that the actual “source” of these tapes is Highway 61 themselves until proven otherwise. The whole thing reeks of an in-house operation from top to bottom — hell, nobody else would even have any reason to send the tapes to them. If Harrison himself wanted to surreptitiously get this information out after his death, he would have given the tapes to any of the hundreds of reputable music journalists — or even mainstream news reporters — he was friedly with, he wouldn’t send them to some no-count peddler of ’60s nostalgia that he’d never had anything to do with based half a world away from where he lived.

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