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Phil Spector’s ‘Agony.’ To Know Him, Is To Love Him?

Phil Spector's 'Agony.' To Know Him, Is To Love Him?

I caught up with Vikram Jayanti’s documentary, The Agony and The Ecstasy of Phil Spector, while attending CPH: DOX last Fall. The film, which is nearly two years old (it was broadcast on BBC in October 2008), finally makes its New York theatrical debut at Film Forum this week. A smart and striking examination of Spector’s 2007 murder trial, set mostly to the music and lyrics of his most legendary pop productions, the film also manages some candid interview time with the iconic music producer himself. While the documentary is a tad outdated (production wrapped before Spector was found guilty during his second trial in 2009), the story of Spector’s early life and career is the main focus of the film, not the disturbing end of it all. As mentioned, Jayanti uses much of Spector’s music, particularly when revealing aspects of the otherwise dull 2007 trial. It’s almost as if Spector’s famous pop hits (“He’s A Rebel,” “Be My Baby,” etc.) can help reflect the demons he obviously allowed to get the better of him. The pop classic, “To Know Him, Is To Love Him,” was Spector’s first #1 hit back in 1958. Upon watching The Agony and The Ecstasy of Phil Spector, to know him is to be creeped-out by him.

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