Infamous Bowie documentary ‘Cracked Actor’ streamed on-line


I could not recall if I had seen the 1974 BBC-produced David Bowie documentary Cracked Actor. I think I have a copy of this near hour-long doc on VHS in some cabinet somewhere. Then, the other day, I stumbled across a blog that is streaming the entire documentary on-line. It’s being hosted by the blog A Piece of Monologue. You can watch the entire thing here.

It’s notoriously referred to as a document of Bowie at his oddest, most drug-addled, but, despite the interview by a perplexed local newsman that kicks off the piece, I think Bowie comes off quite honest and straight-forward.  There’s already a Bowie-centric website that has highlighted most of the important bits on a page featuring an array of quotes and images from the documentary here.

Bowie was an easy target in these days. He had just retired his glam-rock superstar persona Ziggy Stardust and had moved to LA to record a soul record. His eyebrows still shaved and appearing quite pale and gaunt, Bowie was at the height of his cocaine addiction. In one scene while riding in a limo, he shows great concern at the sounds of sirens, as he violently sniffs.

This image has constantly over-shadowed the creative genius depicted in Cracked Actor. He had just unofficially adapted George Orwell’s 1984 as a concept album and presented it as giant stage production. He provides unobtrusive insight to his William Burroughs-inspired style of writing lyrics with cut-up sentences. He also philosophizes on the psychological impact of doing an alter ego as a performer. It’s a worthwhile documentary that leaves you wondering where are all the smart pop stars nowadays.

(Copyright 2010 by Hans Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)


  1. I would love to own a replica blue sweater that David wore under his jacket on the cover of the “David Live” album. I once had a black one that was similar that I found in a second hand shop. But it wasn’t quite the same.


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