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Jim Marshall is not a household name, but many of the photographs he took, especially of pop, rock and jazz musicians, are seared into our collective memory. The shot of Johnny Cash at San Quentin flipping off the camera with a sneer on his face? Marshall took that. Miles Davis in a boxing ring, his face uncharacteristically soft and mellow? That was Marshall, too. And so were the shots of the Beatles playing their last live concert together in San Francisco’s Candlestick Park – the only official photography that was permitted that day.
Alfred George Bailey’s absorbing documentary annoyingly skips back and forth to trace Marshall’s colourful career, but the imagery and the illuminating discussion that springs from close friends, lovers and collaborators and even Marshall himself in some archive material, makes the trip worth it. He emerges as a volatile, choleric creature, damaged by an unhappy childhood and then later a victim of his own raging appetites for drugs and confrontation that would land him in jail.
Even though several of the interviewees admit that he could be a total arse, he could clearly charm as well; this is why he got so close to his subjects and got them to drop their guard. While former assistant Amelia Davis, ex-girlfriend Michelle Margetts and good friend actor Michael Douglas describe his antics, professional photographers and curators speak with authority about his technique and contribution to photography. Just when the film feels at risk of getting a bit dry there will be another blast of vintage music to lighten the mood.
• Show Me the Picture – The Story of Jim Marshall is released in the UK on 31 January.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Show Me the Picture: The Story of Jim Marshall review – shooting stars | Film