200 Motels (The Film)

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by Dave McMacken
Released October 1971
See also:
The True Story Of 200 Motels
200 Motels
200 Motels 50th Anniversary Edition
200 Motels - The Suites


Cast & Crew

Music performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Orchestra Leader Colin Staveley
Orchestra Chairman John Lowdell
Acting Orchestra General Manager Tom Petzal
Orchestra Conductor Elgar Howarth
Chorus Top Score Singers
Choral Director David Van Asch
Special Material Mark Volman, Frank Zappa and Howard Kaylan

Animation Murakami Wolf Productions
Animation Director Charles Swenson
Graphic Production Cal Schenkel, Kunimi Terada, Fumiko Roche, Elizabeth Wright, Wilma Guenot and Ann Oliphant
Production Design Cal Schenkel
Art Director Leo Austin

Unit Production Manager David Anderson
Lion Television Services Production Manager Roy Garner
Lion Television Services Controller Tom Keylock
Assistant Director David Alexander
2nd Assistant Director Jim McCutcheon
Dancers Music Associate Ray Cook
Lighting Director Peter Dyson
Technical Director Alan Mashford
Sound Supervisor Peter Hubbard
16 Track Recordist Robert Auger
Continuity Clerk Lyn Gomez
Production Secretary Jaqi Williamson
Vision Mixer Anne Rowe
Vision Supervisor Roland Brown

Construction Supervisor Harry Phipps
Costume Design Sue Yelland
Hairdresser Mervyn Medalie
Makeup Paul Rabiger
Unit Publicist Ian Stock
Special Effects Bert Luxford
Still Photographer Barry Peake
Wire Specialist Inky Ingram
Props Paddy Bennett

Vision Engineers Richard Thompson, Selwyn Mindel and Neville Hoksfield
Cameramen Dave Swan, Barrie Dodd, Mike Fitch and John Howard
Video Tape Editors Barry Stephens, Ray Nunney
Dubbed at Todd A-O
Film Editing Rich Harrison
Video Tape Transfer to Film Technicolor
Video Tape Equipment Lion Television Services

Produced at Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, England

Uncredited: Jim "Motorhead" Sherwood, Jim Pons, Phyllis Bryn-Julson, Classical Guitar Ensemble, John Williams


The Complete Epic

Tom Troccoli of Society Pages used shooting scripts and other sources to compile a listing of all the music that would have been included:

  1. Semi-Fraudulent/Direct-From-Hollywood Overture (soundtrack LP)
  2. Touring Can Make You Crazy (soundtrack LP)
  3. Dance Of The Rock & Roll Interviewers (soundtrack LP)
  4. What's The Name Of Your Group? (video - Dance Of The Rock & Roll Interviewers and What's The Name Of Your Group? are actually only segments of a much longer piece, also entitled What's The Name Of Your Group?; while we know no further video exists, perhaps there is an existing 16 track recording)
  5. Would You Like A Snack? (soundtrack LP - the original title of this is Went On The Road)
  6. Centerville (soundtrack LP)
  7. This Town Is A Sealed Tuna Sandwich: a. Prologue (soundtrack LP), b. Dance Of The Just Plain Folks (soundtrack LP), c. Reprise (soundtrack LP), d. Bolero (soundtrack LP)
  8. Lonesome Cowboy Burt (soundtrack LP)
  9. Redneck Eats (soundtrack LP)
  10. Mystery Roach (soundtrack LP - in fact, there were two versions of Mystery Roach intended for 200 Motels, and this version is neither of them: Mystery Roach #1 (band version) is very much of an acoustic "folk-rock" song - you can see and just barely hear this version for all of fifteen to twenty seconds in The True Story Of 200 Motels; Mystery Roach #2 (solo version), indeed was to have been sung solo by "Jeff" (Martin Lickert), just before smoking the vile-foamy-liquid cigarette he'd just procured from Dom Dewild, after which he proceeds to "steal the room")
  11. The Pleated Gazelle (this section is rife with deletions; by the way, when the soprano soloist sings, "Would you like to watch a dental hygiene movie?", this is not the cue for Dental Hygiene Dilemma: don't be fooled, dental hygiene movies simply get her hot!): a. Motorhead's Midnight Ranch (soundtrack LP), b. Dew On The Newts We Got (soundtrack LP), c. The Lad Searches The Night For His Newts (soundtrack LP), d. The Girl Wants To Fix Him Some Broth (soundtrack LP), e. The Girl's Dream (soundtrack LP), f. Little Green Scratchy Sweaters & Corduroy Ponce (soundtrack LP), g. A Nun Suit Painted On Some Old Boxes (soundtrack LP)
  12. She Painted Up Her Face (soundtrack LP)
  13. Janet's Big Dance Number (soundtrack LP)
  14. Half A Dozen Provocative Squats (soundtrack LP)
  15. Mysterioso (soundtrack LP)
  16. Shove It Right In (soundtrack LP)
  17. Lucy's Seduction Of A Bored Violinist & Postlude (soundtrack LP)
  18. What Will This Morning Bring Me This Evening? (video)
  19. What Will This Evening Bring Me This Morning (soundtrack LP)
  20. What Kind Of Girl Do You Think We Are? (Fillmore East, June 1971)
  21. Bwana Dik (Fillmore East, June 1971)
  22. Latex Solar Beef (Fillmore East, June 1971)
  23. Daddy, Daddy, Daddy (soundtrack LP)
  24. Do You Like My New Car? (Fillmore East, June 1971)
  25. Magic Fingers (soundtrack LP)
  26. Penis Dimension (soundtrack LP - the shooting script shows that the song and the spoken parts were flip-flopped in order for the theatrical release)
  27. I'm Stealing The Towels (soundtrack LP)
  28. Dental Hygiene Dilemma (soundtrack LP)
  29. Does This Kind Of Life Look Interesting To You? (soundtrack LP)
  30. Strictly Genteel (soundtrack LP - the film version features a different mix)
  31. Lucy's Seduction (Reprise) (video - this music is used during the credit sequence)

These Songs were originally intended for use, but didn't make it to the final shoot:

Release Notes

Music composed and arranged by Frank Zappa
Choreography by Gillian Lynne
Story and screenplay by Frank Zappa
Shooting script by Tony Palmer
Associate producers Raoul Ragel and Brian Harris
Produced by Jerry Goode and Herb Cohen
Characterizations directed by Frank Zappa
Visuals directed by Tony Palmer

Released by: United Artists (US), Runtime: 98 minutes, Rated: R, ASIN 630196392X.

Theatrical release dates: 1971/10/27 (MGM Movie Database), 1971/11/10 (US), 1971/11/20 (Sweden).

Video release dates: 1984 - VHS NTSC - Warner Home Video WB PGX 9949 (German)
1985/06 - VHS - Warner Home Video PEV 99498
1988 - VHS NTSC - Warner Home Video WB PES 99498 (English)
1988 - VHS PAL - Warner Home Video (UK) V PES 99498
1994/12/07 - VHS NTSC - MGM/UA M200423
1994/08/01 - VHS PAL - MGM/UA Rock Classics S050423 (UK)
1997 - Laserdisc MGM/UA ML100423

Liner Notes (From Video Releases)

From PES 99498 VHS (UK):

MIND-BOGGLING EAR-BLOWING POP FANTASY AT ITS BEST! "Touring can make you crazy", announces ex-Beatle Ringo Starr at the start of the movie, "And that's what 200 Motels is all about". So prepare youself for an explosion of outrageous, fast and furious humor, zany satire and extraordinary visual invention in a riveting musical fantasy of the Seventies which makes most of today's pop videos look tame by comparison. The movie is a surrealistic 'documentary' about what happens when the performers on a rock tour begin to feel that every motel, every auditorium and all the groupies start to look alike. Set in the mythical town of Centerville, USA, 200 Motels stars Frank Zappa, the leader of one of the Seventies' greatest rock bands, The Mothers Of Invention, along with Ringo Starr, Theodore Bikel and the legendary Keith Moon, coming together in a consistently fascinating and free-wheeling movie that is a treat for all fans of Frank Zappa and his group and a not-to-be-missed eye and ear-opener for every addict of great pop music. Said Time: "The craziness climaxes, fittingly enough, with a full cast and chorus raising their voices in an irreverent anthem: "Lord, have mercy on the fate of this movie/and God bless the mind of the man in the street". Mothers fans will be ecstatic. Don't miss it.

From M200423 VHS (USA):

Just the right touch of insanity... a stunning achievement." - Robert Hilburn, Los Angeles Times. 200 Motels is Frank Zappa's outrageous, psychedelic precursor to today's rock videos - his hilarious response to the burning question of what to do with road-wrecked musicians. Should they rip off the motel's towels and ashtrays or merely quit the group? Dare they rebel against the tyranny of the merciless Zappa? "The Mothers Of Invention," as irrepressible as Zappa himself, wreck havoc in Centerville, a "typical" American town with its Rancid Boutique, Cheesy Motel, Fake Nightclub, Redneck Eats Cafe, groupies and an honest-to-goodness Main Street. Ringo Starr, in Zappa disquise and carrying an oil lamp, narrates. Theodore Bikel is government agent Rance Muhammitz. The hysterically funny man behind such hits as "Valley Girl," "Dancin' Fool" and "Don't Eat The Yellow Snow," Zappa reasserts his genius in this "zaniest piece of filmusical fantasy-comedy since The Beatles' A Hard Day's Night." - Daily Variety

Background Information

Financed by United Artists for half a million dollars, shot using innovative video technology at Pinewood Studios in seven days, after only five days of rehearsal, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Top Score Singers. It was filmed on four simultaneously running video cameras. One-third of the 320 page script was never shot.

It is a surrealistic look at how touring makes you crazy and the efforts that band members have to go through to get some sexual "action". The entire movie is a musical with some lines of dialogue but mainly songs.

The movie also features a 10 minute animated sequence by Cal Schenkel, with a cameo appearance of Donald Duck.

Conceptual Continuity


Alternate Cover

Tony Palmer's 2010 DVD edition


ZFT # Version # # discs Format Catalog # Release
Artwork Comment
n/a 1.1
1 VHS CS Warner Home Video
WB PGX 9949
1984 ? ? German issue
PAL Color
M 200423
1987 ? ? US issue
NTSC Color
ML 100423
1997 0027616042361 ? US issue
NTSC Color
1 DVD Tony Palmer
2010-03-08 0604388714902 ? UK issue, all regions, 16:9 NTSC.


See Also