Tommy is the screen adaptation of Pete Townshend and The Who's groundbreaking rock opera of the same name. Produced by Ken Russel and featuring cameo appearances by Tina Turner, Jack Nicholson, Ann Margaret, Eric Clapton and Elton John, the movie is an engaging and entertaining romp through the world of rock and roll excess and includes some wry social commentary.
Tommy is played and sung by The Who's frontman Roger Daltrey, who brings an athletic energy to the role. The story begins during the Second World War. Tommy's father, the presumed dead Captain Walker, returns home unexpectedly from the front to discover his wife with another man and is subsequently killed in front of his toddler son, Tommy, who instantly becomes deaf, dumb and blind.
Tommy's guilt-ridden mother and seedy new man bring the boy to a series of doctors and healers who each in turn fail to cure him. These would-be healers include Jack Nicholson as a womanizing psychiatrist, Eric Clapton as a rock-and-roll faith healer, and Tina Turner, who provides a unique form of drug therapy as the "Acid Queen." These episodes and others each provide a song scenario leading up to best one, an encounter with Elton John, whom Tommy dethrones to become the reigning "Pinball Wizard."
Tommy's trials and experiences as a deaf, dumb and blind boy lead him to a personal spiritual development, and when he emerges from his self-imposed affliction it is as a sort of rock-and-roll messiah who encourages his followers to "See Me, Feel Me, Touch Me, Heal Me," and to play pinball as a means to enlightenment.
The movie contains one of the great rock-and-roll soundtracks, overseen by Pete Townshend himself, and featuring performances by The Who, Eric Clapton, Elton John, and others.