Phil Spector (2013) 

Actress Lana Clarkson achieved more fame in death than at any time during a life tragically cut short. After a career highpoint portraying the title character in Roger Corman’s Barbarian Queen and its’ direct to video sequel Barbarian Queen II: The Empress Strikes Back, Clarkson’s phone stopped ringing as she progressed further into her thirties. An uncredited role as Jayne Mansfield in a James Dean biopic was followed by a lamentable show-reel that failed to spark any interest. By 2003, Clarkson was working as a hostess at the House of Blues on Hollywood’s Sunset strip, hoping to network with its star-studded clientele.  One night, close to closing time, a famed record producer walked through the door.

Opening with the disclaimer 'This is a work of fiction… inspired by actual persons in a trial”, this film depicts events surrounding Clarkson’s death in Phil Spector’s house. Focusing on defence attorney Linda Kenney Baden’s transformation from cynical associate to determined advocate, the film unavoidably exhibits a bias towards Spector’s innocence. Yet it rather unnecessarily disparages the victim, holding Clarkson’s career up to ridicule and giving voice to the perception that she was suicidal pill-popper.

Nevertheless, Phil Spector remains a compelling drama, with Al Pacino giving a fine performance in the title role. Ambling through his ‘castle’ filled with eclectic collections and visual trickery, Spector bids welcome to visitors in much the same way Count Dracula might. Railing against a world that has forgotten him, he seems affronted that his former celebrity doesn’t afford him a get out of jail free card. It is an otherworldly depiction of an illusory character.

phil spector, biographical film, biography, review, biopic
cast, Al Pacino, Phil Spector, Meghan Marx, Lana Clarkson
Meghan Marx
Meghan Marx

as Lana Clarkson

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Al Pacino
Al Pacino

as Phil Spector

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fact check, factcheck, fact vs fiction, inaccuracies, true story

In the opening scene of this biopic, Phil Spector’s defence attorney claims that an article by English author Mick Brown was faxed to Spector on the day of the murder and set him off. Mick Brown disputed this and many other depictions in this film, including:

  • Spector had been "cold sober" for ten years prior to Clarkson's death, when in fact he had begun drinking two months prior to her death.

  • Biopic skips over testimony for the prosecution that the fine misting of blood on Spector’s jacket matched the misting pattern on the hem of Clarkson’s dress, putting Spector at arm’s length from Clarkson when the shot was fired.

  • Linda Kenney Baden states in the film that she will not attack the victim, yet she did in court.

  • Movie puts forward theory that chauffeur was pressurised into making his statement by corrupt detectives threatening to charge him as an accessory, whereas the chauffeur’s account was consistent from the moment he was questioned by the first policeman arriving at the scene.

film clip, scene comparison, video

Biopic recreates a clip of Clarkson's showreel in which she impersonates Little Richard, as well as a very brief scene from Barbarian Queen (1985).

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