Readers' Poll: Best Rock DocumentaryThe Who, Bob Dylan, Rush and more
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5. 'The Kids Are Alright'
Never say the Who couldn't appreciate intrepid spirit. When they were approached by mid-20s superfan Jeff Stein about making a documentary, he was upfront about the fact that he had no previous directorial experience. (He did, however, have a book of photographs of the band under his belt.) The lack of pedigree paid off spectacularly: The Kids Are Alright plays fast and passionately, like the band itself. It begins with the then-controversial decision to open with their destructive performance on the The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour – the first and only time the Who would perform on an American variety hour, and an elegant summation of drummer Keith Moon's propensity for mayhem.
There is terrific lost concert footage unearthed by Stein in The Kids Are Alright – including the band's performance at the Rolling Stones' Rock and Roll Circus, long delayed because of the Stones' dissatisfaction – but the real poignancy lays in its personal look at Moon. The volatile, charismatic drummer died one week after he saw an initial cut of the documentary. The film debuted one year later, at the 1979 Cannes Film Festival.