Frank Zappa filmt 200 Motels (VPRO-TV 1971)


00:00 Overture/What's The Name Of Your Group?

includes parts of What's The Name Of Your Group? and A Pound For A Brown On The Bus



Lock it!
57, take 1!

Two Hundred Motels

Narrator: [...]

This tape version of it that you hear is from the Uncle Meat album. It is the original recording of it, and it's been uh, changed around somewhat to suit the purposes of the film version of 200 Motels. In this next section the soprano solo is supposed to be a girl from a low budget rock & roll magazine that's interviewing me, and she has a text that she recites on this melody here . . . Right here. She's singing, "When is your next L.P. to be released, and how long have you been growing your hair; have you been to England yet, and how do they like your music over there?" And then the chorus goes, "Over there, over there . . ." She says uh, in an aside to the audience, "I bet the first time that you went to England that it was really far fuckin' out and groovy and uh, it was really groovy vibes and it was so European, and I can just see you guys now wandering around Europe, going to all these exotic places like Paris, Rome, Essen and the Vienna Woods."

Phyllis Bryn-Julson:
Really exciting and heavy and far out.
I bet it was groovy vibes over there . . . So European!
I can just imagine you and your little group . . . going all over Europe . . .
Paris . . . Rome . . . Essen . . .
Even the Vienna Woods!

02:52 Do You Like My New Car?

Narrator: [...]

Mark: Say uh, do you like my new car?
Howard: Oh, it's real cool! You know how to get to the uh, cheesey motel?
Mark: Oh, which one is it? He he he he!
Howard: The one by the airport. We've . . . AA-AA-AAh . . . Oh, man . . .
FZ: Coming up, okay, "do you like my new car?"
Mark: Do you like my new car, or what?
Howard: It's real cool. Do you know how to . . . AAA-AA-AAh!
Mark: AAA-AAA-AAh!
Howard: AA-AAA-AAH! Do you know how to, how to get to the cheesey motel with that smashing, you know, the butter shop?
Mark: Which one are you staying at?
Howard: Oh, the one by the airport.
Mark: Keep it up, Ian! IAN!
Howard: We gotta get up early and fly out of here in the morning, you know.
Mark: Oh yeah, really?
Howard: Oh yeah, really.
Mark: Where do you play tomorrow night?
Howard: Oh, Tierra del Fuego.
Mark: Oh yes?
Howard: And then there's that Barbecue at Mutts.
Mark: Oh, you're so professional.
Howard: OW!
Mark: I mean uh, wait . . . ha ha ha!
Howard: Ow!
Mark: HA HA HA! The way you get to travel to all those exotic places. Do you really have a hit single in the charts with a bullet?
Howard: Listen, honey, would I lie to you just to get in your pants?
Mark: Don't talk to me that way!
Howard: Keep your eye on the road!
Mark: I am not . . . HA HA HA HA . . . I am not a groupie!

05:03 Tony Palmer & Jerry Good

includes Lucy's Seduction Of A Bored Violinist and Dance Of The Rock & Roll Interviewers

Narrator: [...]

FZ: . . . Grabs Janet by the tits . . .

Announcer: . . . 69 . . . 63, 64 . . . and 58. I'll just go through that once more. We're starting on 57, looking in the groupies' room—where the cameras are now—and then the orchestra comes in at ten o'clock, and we record the orchestra. Also, the pick-up shots of scenes 61, 62, 63, and 64—and 58, which are all virtually in the same area. Thank you very much.

FZ: . . . He makes a secondary grab for the tits on jumbo jets, at which point she kneels on his chest to hold him down. And then finally he starts [...] supposedly really . . .
Janet: Hey.
Tony Palmer: Cough!
FZ: Ha ha ha!
Keith Moon: Ha ha ha!
FZ: Oh man . . .

Roelof Kiers: You're Tony Palmer, you're the director of 200 Motels. What kind of conception do you have?
Tony Palmer: Well, I think Frank has had this dream for so long now, that I think that even he has become unsure as to what exactly the dream constitutes. It's a kind of mixture of childhood fantasies, adolescent fantasies, and now grown-up fantasies, all somehow strung together to make some kind of enormous nightmare that he may or may not have had at some point in his life. And one's problem as a director is trying to unfathom that dream and make some kind of coherent sense of it.

Narrator: [...]

Roelof Kiers: Why are you, as a producer, interested in 200 Motels?
Jerry Good: Strictly because of the uh, the creative aspects of it. I think what Frank can done creatively from a musical point of view as well as a story telling point of view is so fresh that uh, it excited us, that's why we really got involved, and I think he's a brilliant talent, and uh, the whole feeling of 200 Motels from the point of view of what he is trying to say.
Roelof Kiers: Mm-hmm. What is he trying to say?

Jerry Good: Uh, excuse me.
Roelof Kiers: Yeah.
Jerry Good: I believe what he's trying to say is, he's trying to make a statement with regard to what happens to all these people on the road. In the minds of the people that are not on the road, you know what I mean? And uh, a lot of, what do you say, I think it will go over the heads of some of the people that are not familiar with what's happening today in the rock & roll scene, etc. But uh, I think he's done it immaculately, and trying to tell the story in his proper text the way the story should be told and that's through music.
Roelof Kiers: Do you see any commercial potential in it?
Jerry Good: I, sure as hell hope so! He he he . . .

Tony Palmer: Cue guy! My God, for Jesus Christ sake! Thank you, Barry [...] violet.

Narrator: [...]

Tony Palmer: Stop beating the gorilla sixteen times.

Tony Palmer: Well, um essentially what we do is to record the whole operation on color videotape. Uh, the color videotape has three primary colors: red, green, and blue. And the old technicolor process had also three primary colors, red, green, and blue. So we put two pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together and said, "A-ha." Well, if the two are the same in this way, it must be possible to transfer color tape to color film using three primary colors red, green and blue. So we began to experiment with transferring color tape in this way. The initial problem was that the poor quality of the television picture didn't stand up to examination when you showed it on an enormous cinema screen. You saw, for example, you saw lines. But fortunately . . .
Roelof Kiers: And distortions?
Tony Palmer: And distortions, yes. But now we've found a way around that, and in fact the color that we are able to make with color television is rather better, we think, than the equivalent of 35mm film.
Roelof Kiers: And that's a new British invention, hunh?
Tony Palmer: Well, it's just . . . yes. He he he he . . .

11:14 Mystery Roach

How long?
How long?
Till that mystery roach be arrivin' soon

Narrator: [...]

That mystery roach be approachin'
That mystery roach be approachin' me . . .

How long?
How long?
Till that mystery roach been gone

That mystery roach be approachin'
That mystery roach be approachin' me . . .

Roelof Kiers: How does it feel to be Howard?
Howard: Well, the character I play is a great guy, you see, right away that gives me a start. Uh, on the other hand, half of it's reality and half of it isn't, you know? Where the line is, it's sometimes even hard for the players to tell, you know. It's just that when you look at your script some lines come easier than other lines, you know, and usually those are the ones that you've said before, or feel that you could say quite honestly, you know, and some of the other things were made up and it, it comes out that way.

Mark: Room service?
Howard: I've been without female companionship for so long—Monday, for instance—that a career as a Jesuit monk sounds inviting. Ian is starting to look good to me.
Ian?: Eewww . . . Ruth . . .
George: Must be his green velour socks . . .
Martin: You just calm down there, Duke.
Mark: Ever since you left the jazz world to seek fame and fortune in the rock & roll industry . . .
Martin: Rock & roll! What d'ya mean rock & roll? This fucking band doesn't even play rock & roll, it's all that comedy crap.

FZ: If you're not a professional actor, if you're not trained to act, to be somebody else all the time, the easiest thing for you to do, when you only have a week to make a movie is just to be yourself on the screen. So the lines that the people speak in the film, with the exception of some of the real fantasy characters like the Vacuum Cleaner, or the, or what Theodore Bikel says, are all based on the actual speech patterns and the lifestyle of the people who are in the group.
Roelof Kiers: You, you don't use this technique as a kind of psychological therapy for your members of the group.
FZ: Well, some people have suspected that, but I wouldn't say that's a prime purpose of the film.
Roelof Kiers: What is it then?
FZ: The prime purpose of the film? Oh, that's to be revealed later.

14:49 The Pleated Gazelle

includes Motorhead's Midnight Ranch and Lucy's Seduction Of A Bored Violinist

Lucy: It's just like home!

Narrator: [...]

Roelof Kiers: Do you expect any problems with the censors?
Jerry Good: I can't answer that, I really can't, honestly. I can't answer that.
Roelof Kiers: Well, you are in the business . . .
Jerry Good: I uh, I think there will obviously be, be a problem in the United States, but in the foreign countries I don't think it would be that problem. But in all honesty, beyond the lyrical content of the picture, it is not a obscene picture in any sense of the word. It's, it's more anti-sex than it is pro-sex.

16:23 Penis Dimension/Rance Muhammitz

Theodore Bikel:
What's between your legs
Is just the last few inches of a complex

Mechanism which runs
Up and down the spinal cord
And all hooked up to the human brain!

Lucy?: The pin.
Theodore: The bee . . . pin, pin . . .
FZ: Wait a minute, I'll tell ya! Mark walks over in here, you just come over and stand near the side of the organ and watch in the background. The same with George.
Theodore: I'd better, I may better do it from this side, that should be better. "You are Volman!"
Howard: "No. No, no, no . . . "
Theodore: So, alright, listen. I'll come in, come in with my briefcase, I see all of this thing . . .
FZ: Yeah.
Theodore: I'll go, "Ping!" Everybody wakes up. How do we, how do they know that I . . .
FZ: Do a general, a general sweep so they see that you're getting Mark and back there and everybody wake 'em all up.
Theodore: I will go, "Prn-rn-rn-rn-rn-rng! You're Volman."
FZ: Yeah.
?: You'll go what?
Theodore: I'll go, "Prn-rn-rn-rn-rn-rn-rnng! You're Volman."
Howard: And as he sweeps around everybody . . .
Theodore: Everybody wakes up as I see them. Okay? Go . . . "Well, you may call me Rance Muhammitz."
Howard: "We already did.
I called you Rance and he called you Muhammitz, a few minutes minutes ago at the beginning of that song."
FZ: That's a confession. "I called you Rance. He called you Muhammitz."
Howard: Okay. "I called you Rance. I called you Rance. He called you Muhammitz. Few minutes ago at the beginning of that song."
Theodore: "Sitting, sitting across the road in the fake night club with an Indian gentleman, suddenly I sensed a need on your behalf to communicate with me. There was a need, wasn't there? Or you wouldn't have called. Would you?"

Roelof Kiers: Theodore Bikel, you've been in many movies. Twenty, I think.
Theodore: Thirty, more like it.
Roelof Kiers: Thirty already! Why are you in 200 Motels?
Theodore: Well, because I was intrigued by the whole idea, it was no more than an idea when Frank came to me first. Uh, he came with exactly, I think it was fifteen pages of an outline. That was all there was, there was no more. But eh, it was intriguing. It was interesting, and uh, Frank himself is a, it's, you met him, you know. It's a very exciting personality, so let's film what either be a complete flop, chaos, or an, an extraordinary film. There'd be nothing in between.

19:55 Lonesome Cowboy Burt

My name is Burtram
I am a redneck
All my friends,
They call me 'Burt'
All my family,
From down in Texas
Make their livin'
Diggin' dirt

Come out here to Californy,
Just to find me
Some pretty girls
Ones I seen
Gets me so horny;
Ruby lips,
'N teeth like pearls!

Wanna love 'em all!
Wanna love 'em dearly!
Wanna pretty girl—
I'll even pay!
I'll buy 'em furs!
I'll buy 'em jewelry!
I know they like me;
Here's what I say:

I'm lonesome Cowboy Burt!
(Speakin' atcha!)
Come smell my fringe-y shirt!
(Reekin' atcha!)
My cowboy pants,
My cowboy dance,
My bold advance,
On this here waitress . . .

(He's lonesome Cowboy Burt
Don'tcha get his feelings hurt)
Come on in this place,
'N I'll buy you a taste,
You can sit on my face—
Where's my waitress?

21:52 A Bunch Of Adventures

includes part of Strictly Genteel

Roelof Kiers: You play yourself in 200 Motels.
Mark: Well uh . . . I play a version of myself as Frank sees me, you know, like, you know what I mean?
Roelof Kiers: No.
Mark: It's not, uh, he sees the group from . . . like we see him from one point of view and he sees us from another place, this was written around like where, you know, the folklore that each member had brought to create the image that we portray.
Roelof Kiers: It's partly true or not?
Mark: What?
Roelof Kiers: Is it partly true or not?
Mark: Well uh . . .
Roelof Kiers: Is it?
Mark: I think so, I think that like, uh, some of the scenes have happened before. You know what I mean.
Roelof Kiers: Which ones you mean?
Mark: Well, specifically the, the hotel room scene where the group sits and talks about how Frank is not important to what the group is and . . . that scene I remember happening many times, uh, just the whole idea that it is Frank Zappa & The Mothers Of Invention has always given us something to talk about, you know, Frank is, you know, our boss and so there's always that kinda management, uh, worker relationship that, you know, that just happens, it isn't like you, you plan for it to happen, it just does . . .

Narrator: Jeff Simmons [...]

Martin: what do you do? You join The Mothers and you end up working for Zappa! And he makes you be a creep! You could have played the blues with John Mayall, or far-out exciting jazz with Blood, Sweat & Tears.
Don: You really think so?
Jeff: Look, no one'll ever take you seriously after this . . . how can they take you seriously? In this business you either gotta play the blues or sing with a high voice.
Don: You're right, I never should have joined The Mothers. Why, I could be a star now! Oh . . .

FZ: From the point that Jeff Simmons quit the group we've had a bunch of adventures trying to find somebody to replace him, not only for the bass parts in the music, but to play the role that he was supposed to play in the film, which is a pretty large part. And, uh, our first candidate for the role was Wilfrid Brambell, who played the grandfather in A Hard Day's Night. So Wilfrid came over, tried out for the part, everything was set, he rehearsed with us for about a week, and then one day came to the studio here, and completely freaked out, and said that he couldn't handle it anymore. It's uh . . . So, we went into the dressing room, sat around with the guys in the band, and tried to figure out what we were gonna do about replacing the replacement. And the first person that walked through the door was Martin Lickert, who happened to be Ringo's driver, and, uh, everybody just turned and looked at him and went, "You!"

Martin: I just went out to get some cigarettes for him one day and came back and walked into the dressing room and there's Frank and the rest of the Mothers and Ringo, few other people, and I walked in the room and they all went, "Yeah!" I said, "Yeah what?" You know, "Would, would you like to try Jeff's part?" You know, so I just tried that, and it seemed to work okay.
Roelof Kiers: Mm-mmh . . .
Martin: So Frank said, "Well, if you can play, play bass, you can try playing with the group as well."

FZ: So he took the script and he read it and he sounded good and then just quite by accident, we found out that he was a bass player.
Roelof Kiers: And how does he? He does it well?
FZ: Oh, he does very well, I think. I think he's good for the part, is, uh, quite professional on screen and as a bass player he's not astonishing but, uh, he can make the parts.

Ian: Got too many of those. [...] Goes right back down to the E.

Narrator: Ian Underwood [...]

I'd like to introduce my friend and companion
Howard Kaylan, who'd like to say a few more words

No, this is once . . .

Martin: I'm a Mother now, yeah. But don't . . .
Roelof Kiers: Temporarily.
Martin: Temporarily, or whatever, you know.
Mark: Well, we're all, that's the thing.
Roelof Kiers: What's the thing?
Mark: Temporarility.
Martin: Like a very short pregnancy.
Mark: Yeah, working with Frank isn't like working with any other group, it's all very temporary. And uh, that's the way it works. And you just, you just never know, I mean, like, it isn't the final stage for any of us, you know. Like this isn't the final Mothers Frank would have.
It's hard to say how long we will be together. And, you know . . .

27:16 The Groupies

200 Motels

Narrator: [...]

Director: "Each guy has his speciality."
Ringo: "Each guy has his own speciality of finding the girl of his dreams."
Director: Quiet in the background, please! Once again, Ringo. That one.
Ringo: "Each guy has his own speciality of going out to find the . . . " What is it?
Director: "Getting the girl of his dreams."
Ringo: Not "going out."
Director: "Each guy has his own speciality for getting the girl of his dreams."
Ringo: "Each guy has his own little speciality of getting the girl of his dreams."

Keith: . . . get him off, get him off, ooh!
Director: Up into the aisle, Keith. You say, "Excuse me," Ringo.
Ringo: What?
Director: You say, "Excuse me." Keep going, keep going.
Ringo: Excuse me, excuse me . . . Oh, my little nun, show me your little vest . . .

Keith: Oh, excuse me, Frank.
Gail: Yes?
Keith: What's . . . with the uh, shape . . .
Gail: It's fantastic, isn't it horrible?

Narrator: [...]

Gail: Well, I think his name's Keith Moon.
Keith: Well, I play the part of a perverted nun.
Roelof Kiers: Perverted nun?
Keith: Well, I'm male.
Gail: A popstar disguised as a groupie disguised as a nun.
Keith: Right.
And this gentleman here . . . Mr. Pierre, Paul? Paul Pierre.
Gail: Heh heh heh . . .

Narrator: [...]

Roelof Kiers: Janet, what are you supposed to play in the film?
Janet: A groupie.
Roelof Kiers: What's that?
Janet: Mmm?
Roelof Kiers: What's that?
Janet: What's a groupie? Oh, come on! A groupie is a groupie. A girl who follows groups. Who likes groups. But there are no groupies any more.
Lucy: Are you kidding?
Janet: Yeah, but that's so, that's stupid, that word.
Lucy: It's not stupid, it's true.
Janet: It's just that ugly word. I think that it gets me sick. It's boring.
Pamela: It's outdated.
Roelof Kiers: You play Janet, uh?
Lucy: Janet the Groupie.

Lucy: "Over there, it's him, he's watching us. He's looking at us with the binoculars."
Janet: "What?" . . . You say, "Look over there," and I say, "What?"
Director: Keep going on, keep going . . .
Lucy: "He's doing it, he's watching us from the fake bas— fake bandstand with the binoculars."
Director: Once again.
FZ: More excited.
Lucy: "Look! Over there!"
Janet: "What?"
Lucy: "He's doing it, he's watching us from the fake bandstand with the binoculars!"
Janet: "Who, the English . . . ?"
Lucy: "The rivet-boy."
Keith: "The rivet-boy. Where?"
Lucy: "Over there, wipe that stuff out of your eyes. It looks like he's beating off."
Janet: "Beating off? I knew he was a pervert."
Lucy: "Eww, how exciting. Hey, are you still trying to O.D.?"
Keith: "Yes, this definitely is the end for me! I feel so faint! So weak!"

31:43 Magic Fingers

Ooh, the way you love me, lady,
I get so hard now I could die
Ooh, the way you love me, sugar,
I get so hard now I could die

Open up your pocketbook,
Get another quarter out,
Drop it in the meter, mama
And try me on for size

Howard: From 200 Motels he expects the worst reviews of any movie ever put out, and I said, "Yeah, Frank? Why is that?" And he says, "Well, nobody's ready for it . . . " But it doesn't really matter, you know? He knows that the kids are gonna go see it, because it's a weird movie. By the time this turkey comes out, man, I mean, there still won't be anything out close to it. You know, it's just a very bizarre approach to music and at young people and at being on the road in general, and it's gonna work fine. His intention is to create a, a piece of film so bizarre and, parts of it so full of bullshit and other parts of it so technically perfect, that the people are gonna leave the theater going, "I didn't understand it at all! What's he doing? What's, what's the message? What's he trying to say?" Well, that's the message, that he's not trying to say it.

Howard: "Take off all your little clothes—except for your heavy-duty chrome and leather Peace Medallion—till you are virtually STARK RAVING NUDE! And make you assume a series of marginally erotic poses involving a plastic chair and an old guitar strap while I did a wee-wee in your hair and beat you with a pair of tennis shoes I got from Jeff Beck."

Director: Fade to black! Time for lunch!

34:45 —end—


All compositions by Frank Zappa except as noted
Site maintained by Román García Albertos.
Transcription for new material by Patrick Neve and Román
The parts that appear on Frank Zappa's 200 Motels are printed this way
The parts that appear on The True Story Of 200 Motels are printed this way
The parts that appear on both are printed this way
This page updated: 2017-11-11