The U.S. Vs John Lennon Cover Now can a single man go to war with one of the most powerful nations in the world? America. Plus is it possible for a mere musician to outsmart a lofty politician? Nixon. Also, will the true battle be won in the open air or in the confines of a court room? Hmm? Watch this 99 minute documentary recorded in 2007 to find out more.

The U.S. vs. John Lennon

This feature length documentary relates to the political nature of John Lennon's last ten years living in the United States of America.

Prudently, this tale is reflected within the words of certain personages who knew about this matter. Such as: Yoko Ono, G. Gordon Liddy, George McGovern , Elliot Mintz, David Peel, Daniel Richter, Geraldo Rivera, John Ryan, Bobby Seale, John Sinclair, M. Wesley Swearingen, Joe Treen, Gore Vidal, Jon Wiener, Stew Albert, Tariq Ali, Tom Smothers, Carl Bernstein, Robin Blackburn, Chris Charlesworth, Noam Chomsky, Walter Cronkite, Mario Cuomo, Angela Davis, John Dean, Felix Dennis, David Fenton, Bob Gruen, and Ron Kovic. Also, there are numerous pieces of archive footage on display that relate to this particular episode, which either come in the form of enhanced images, television interviews, concerts in which John and Yoko were in attendance, and musical interludes complemented by a quick and poignant montage sequence.

What now follows is a basic breakdown of how this feature plays out.

  • So how does this story begin?   In the latter years of the Beatles, John Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono, decided to use their public status to promote peace in the press. Not war. Not Conflict. Peace. 
  • Such as?   Well, they held a number of avantgard press conferences which took the form of ‘bag inns’, ‘bed inns’, and a ‘hair growing’ protest too. 
  • And is that why both John and Yoko moved to America?   Yeah. Pretty much. At the time New York City was seen as the seventies epicenter for the political movement.
  • So did it work out OK for them over there?   Hmmm? It depends on your perspective I suppose. From John and Yoko's point of view, they were associating themselves with people who had left-wing ideals -- including a concert to release a convicted pot smoker called John Sinclair. Yet, the 'powers that be' didn't see it like that. No. Not at all. They saw it as 'unwanted political attention',  and' that is why the FBI and the then president of America, Richard Nixon, decided to keep tabs on the Lennon's.
  • Say what?   Over a period of years, this political probing took the form of constant telephone surveillance, car surveillance, and personal surveillance, accumulating in repetitive courtroom appearances. Obviously this hindered John both mentally and emotionally, causing him to not pursue certain issues in which he wished to pursue. Furthermore, they also threatened him with deportation because of a past cannabis conviction. 
  • Get out of town!   No. Thankfully they didn't. John hired immigration lawyer, Leon Wildes, whom prudently managed to prove over a three years period in a court of law, that John’s application had been unjustly hindered by the U.S. government. Case closed. 

Within the following years, John went on to have a happy life with Yoko and his son, Sean, until a madman’s bullet quieted his voice forever more.

"John Lennon was a born enemy of those who controlled the United States, which I always say was admirable. Lennon came to represent life, while Mr. Nixon and Mr. Bush represents death" -- Gore Vidal

Quite a few years ago something very strange happened to me that still shakes me up to this very day. I was living at my parents home at time, studying computing at university, when... errr... how can I put this?

John and Yoko - War Is Over
Oh! One minute! I know. Picture the scene. I was sitting by my computer one Sunday evening, swatting up on an exam I needed to prepare for, when suddenly -- BING! -- a message popped up on my screen, elaborating on one of my many past transgressions.

Admittedly, I presumed that this was just one of my classmates having some fun at my expense. So I never really gave it much thought. Yet, it kept on happening, again, and again, and again, every day for a period of weeks, thus making me become very paranoid about who was doing this to me.

Of course I did a spot of checking up of my own on this matter. Asking a few close personal friends about it, as well as doing a bit of... ahem... internet tracking too. But alas -- no -- I could not find anything at all. Not a sausage. Until one day I was approached by a man when I was coming home from uni. 

"We know what you've done" said the man. "We know how you did it too" he continued "The only problem with this though, is that none of us can't prove it in a court of law". "None of us" I exclaimed in turn. "None of us" replied the man. 

Immediately my heart sank into my feet. I could not think. I could not breath. I could not feel. All I could do was stand there and look at this nondescript stranger as if he was going to destroy my life forever more.

But he didn't. Thank God he didn't. He just put his hand on my shoulder and gave me this smile -- a very perculiar smile -- one that said to me in a very subliminal manner, "I'm sure you won't be doing that again in a hurry". And with that, he was off, never to be seen by me again.

John and Yoko in The U.S. Vs John Lennon

OK. Now I'm sure you're wondering to yourself why I have told you this story, dear reader. Well, if I'm going to be Frank about it, I suppose this is my way of explaining to you that I can understand on a certain level how John felt during his time battling Nixon.

John Lennon
Hey! It couldn't have been easy on him. Trying to keep himself together. But yet again that's most probably why I loved watching this slick and well told documentary so much: 'The U.S. Vs John Lennon'.

You see, in a very no-nonsense way, this program elaborates on what happens when two juxtaposing worlds collide -- art and politics -- inadvertently producing someone the world now knows as 'John Lennon: the social activist'.

Come on. Just think about how these two diametrically opposed ideologies must have combined within John’s mind. One of them is cold and logical. Whilst the other one is creative and free. And together -- POW! -- it must have been rather bi-polar to say the least.

Heck, that must be why some of John and Yoko’s initial peace demonstrations never really caught on in society! Some people just couldn't really understand where they were coming from with their innovative amalgamation of subjects.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono in The U.S. Vs John Lennon

Granted, this amazing documentary doesn't quite put it those specific terms. Instead, it allows noted personages to elaborate on Johns time in America, whilst giving 'benefit of hindsight' the upper hand to dictate the eventual outcome.

The U.S. Vs John Lennon
Hold up! Please don't take what I've just said too negatively. It’s just that sometimes it’s always easier to comment on an event after it has happened, rather than before. Furthermore, I have to say that most of the people involved are quite proficient and clear on who they are and what they stand for as well.

Personally speaking, I found that this roll-call of people were all very bold in recounting their past experiences where John and Yoko were concerned. Never with no distaste or over elaboration. But with a great way of 'saying it like it is' in that very stoic yet erstwhile hippy manner.

That's why I said this documentary is ‘very slick’ previously. It cuts straight through anything else associated with John and Yoko, and just concentrates on those particular events and times.

John Lennon and Leon Wildes
Alright. I know what you're thinking to yourself again. So is this a good thing or a bad thing? Right? Well, as this documentary is titled ‘The U.S. Vs John Lennon’ -- it’s a good thing -- because it highlights that he wasn't a mad musician after all. He was just a hounded musician by default. Whereas if you wanted to see the rest of the Beatles in this documentary -- ooops -- your sh*t out of luck, pal. Only Yoko is in this one.

Overall, this documentary is a very nice and polished piece of documentary film-making. It is well focused. Well presented. The subject matter is both compelling and interesting. And all in all it is about a great man we all know and love as John Lennon.

What more can you ask for? 'Let it be' in drag? Or maybe something like this...

Hmm? Innovative idea. Just like this film.


THE U.S. Vs JOHN LENNON THE U.S. Vs JOHN LENNON Reviewed by David Andrews on October 15, 2013 Rating: 5
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