New York Doll (2005)

Occasionally I find a film that is absolutely riveting and delightful, and New York Doll is one of them. It’s the story of Arthur “Killer” Kane, bass player for a glam-rock band in the early 1970s called The New York Dolls. Directed by an LDS friend and told by Arthur and various friends, the film recounts Arthur’s glory days in the band, the subsequent years of drug and alcohol addiction and near poverty, his conversion to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and his dream of playing with the band again. His dream is realized when he and the two other surviving members are invited by Morrissey to reunite for the London Meltdown Festival in 2004.

While the New York Dolls weren’t commercially successful back in their heyday, they were apparently enormously influential, and there are some big names interviewed in the movie, such as Morrissey, Bob Geldof, Chrissie Hynde and Iggy Pop. Also interviewed are delightful old ladies who work with Arthur at the Family History Library in L.A. and his home teacher and bishop. Arthur himself is gentle, quirky and unassuming.

One scene was particularly delightful: just before going on stage, fellow band member David Johansen (aka Buster Poindexter) teases Arthur about giving his share of the money from t-shirt sales to the church. There follows a conversation about the “rules” of Mormonism that will be familiar to any LDS people who’ve had to explain themselves to someone not of the faith. It’s just fun to watch that conversation between two rock stars.

We couldn't find this to rent where we live, so we ended up buying it. I’m glad we did.


  1. We also loved this movie and have recommended it to many people. Arthur is a sincere compassionate person who is delightfully wacky at times. His pre-lds life, full of pain and tragety is contrasted with the man he became, gentle, humble and trying his best to be a good person. the highlight of this film for me was the joy you can see in his face as he gets to reunite with the men he shared so much of his young life with, and see that over the years the bad feelings that may have exsisited no longer matter. It must have been a great thing for him to realize that this part of his life, while of not much benefit to himself personally was influential to other people. Even Chris' mom thought this was a great "feel good" movie

  2. We watched this just this last weekend with Jon (Erin's Jon) and thought it was really good. I have to say, New York Dolls did not play the sort of music I like or can even listen to really. They looked like a bunch of freaks to me. But I did like the movie. The passion Arthur had for his music was really evident. I was really surprised by the end. Didn't know that was coming (and for those who haven't seen it and may not know I won't say what it was). I really liked the way he and David talked about the church. He was cool and not all embarrassed by the church and not preachy. Jon had a good point when he mentioned that he thought it was cool that Arthur's hometeacher and bishop both encouraged him to go ahead with the reunion. It was great that they knew it was something that would be good for him. Someone who didn't know Arthur may have thought that would have been a bad situation to go back to. I liked the ladies at the Family History Library too.

  3. Just yesterday I found myself evangelizing this movie to a young guy (late teens, probably) at our local video store. I'm pretty sure he thought I was goofy, possibly annoying. But it's such a good movie and I think it would appeal to so many different people. Hopefully he'll see it someday and think, "Okay, so the old lady wasn't as crazy as I thought."

  4. So where do I get this movie in CA? Will I find it at Blockbuster? I want to see it. Sounds good.

  5. Hello, mum! I think you should be able to find it at Blockbuster. If not, I'm sure Netflix has it. Or maybe I'll be ready to part with it for a while next time we see you. After all, I do have your Pride and Prejudice tapes. (Hopefully this is my mum I'm responding to.)

  6. So that's where my Pride and Predudice tapes are! Just what am I suppose to do if I become ill or disabled and don't have my Pride and Predudice tapes?

  7. I asked you when I borrowed them! And you said I could take them, but that I should be very careful with them. They are all still safe. And now that our local library has it on DVD, I will return them to you. I hope you will not become ill or disabled before I see you again. If you do, though, you should simply watch the new Pride and Prejudice three times. Should take about the same amount of time. And the Special Features on that DVD are also worth watching. (I have a very long P&P post planned, wherein I will write about the various films and the book, but I just haven't found the time for it yet.) You should try to get New York Doll at Blockbuster, though. I think it should be known by rental and retail places that it's a desired movie.


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