Just as there seems to be a rule that every great filmmaker at some point must make a movie about making movies, there also appears to be an unwritten law that their career is not over until they make a Rolling Stones documentary. Actually there's little support for the latter claim. It's just that there are so many concert films and other non-fiction works involving the band, and a good amount were made by notable directors, including Martin Scorsese, Hal Ashby and Jean-Luc Godard. And another is currently being made by Johnny Depp, though it will primarily focus on Keith Richards.
With the most recent Stones film, Stones in Exile, hitting DVD recently, I thought I'd take a look at a few other related works, namely Albert and David Maysles' infamous classic Gimme Shelter and Robert Frank's little-seen, officially unreleased C**ksucker Blues. These two documentaries, neither necessarily concert films, both qualifying as examples of "Direct Cinema," form bookends to what you'll see in Stones in Exile, which is the latest from Stephen Kijak (Cinemania; Scott Walker: 30 Century Man) and which presents a history of the making of the band's masterpiece album "Exile on Main Street."
It would be fitting to also include Rollin Binzer's Ladies and Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones in this Rolling Stones marathon, but I haven't yet managed to see it. Even though Frank's film is all but banned, it's easier to see that on the Internet than it is to see Binzer's film in any form until it finally hits DVD and Blu-ray this November. For now, the trio I present here is an adequate look at the Stones' American tours in '69 and '72 and a little of what they did in between. There are a couple years in there not documented in the following films, but few bands, or other famous figures, have such an overflowing time capsule for a specific era as this.