There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
“You’re a big noise, aren’t you?” a drunken young Brit slurs at Bob Dylan, who has just accused him of throwing a glass out of a hotel window. On his ’65 tour of England, the 24-year-old, methed-up rebel sparred with anyone who crossed his path: journalists, hangers-on, groupies, pedestrians. D.A. Pennebaker’s classic documentary revels in the offstage (and often obnoxious) antics of Dylan and his troupe—all leather, shades, and attitude—like some merry pranksters let loose in staid, gray London town. Much has been made of the impromptu “showdown” with Donovan, but the film is at its best when revealing the cultural whiplash of those heady times: Fans still dutifully coming to concerts in suits and ties, Dylan’s manager, Albert Grossman, cussing out a pompous maitre d’, and an elderly, furred Lady X inviting Dylan to the family castle as her teenage sons fidget behind her. In the film’s most affecting scene, Dylan momentarily loses his cool and starts singing Hank Williams’ “Lost Highway” in his hotel room in the wee hours while Joan Baez sits nearby trying to harmonize to hillbilly songs she doesn’t know the words to; soon he loses her, too. In the next few months, Dylan would leave everyone behind, making Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde, then conquering the world with the Hawks. Pennebaker’s raw, scabrous film of that historic, Bob-gone-electric tour, Eat the Document, remains unreleased (with its scenes of drug use and such, even Dylan felt it went too far); but Don’t Look Back holds up as a worthy anti-hagiography in its own right. The screening and discussion start at 7:30 p.m. at the D.C. Jewish Community Center’s Goldman Theater, 16th & Q Sts. NW. $8.50. For reservations call (301) 738-7073. (Eddie Dean)