Remember When: Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney Star in Odd 11-Minute Short Film ‘The Cooler’

To promote his eighth album Stop And Smell The Roses, Ringo Starr released an 11-minute promotional film, The Cooler, featuring Paul McCartney and a small cast of characters. The film was created to showcase three of the tracks on the album, including two written by McCartney, and premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in France on May 24, 1982.

Conceived by McCartney and produced by his company, MPL Communications, The Cooler was filmed in southwest London in mid-January 1981, and directed by ex-10cc and Godley & Creme bandmates Kevin Godley and Lol Creme. The short, set in a dystopian prison policed entirely by women, stars Starr, his wife Barbara Bach, and Paul and Linda McCartney.

Before The Cooler, Starr had already tested his acting skills in the 1968 film Candy, the 1969 comedy The Magic Christian, the surreal Frank Zappa-helmed 200 Motels in 1971, and Lisztomania about the Hungarian composer Franz Liszt.

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In The Cooler Starr plays an escapee, who is caught and thrown into a form of solitary confinement (the cooler). Throughout the film, his mental state deteriorates and he imagines a relationship with the commandant, played by Bach, all while “Private Property” and “Attention,” written by Paul McCartney and Starr’s cover of Carl Perkins‘ 1955 song “Sure to Fall” play through.

McCartney appears in the film three times, as a prisoner, Starr’s father, and as a bassist in a country band, while Linda plays a guard.

Though Stop and Smell the Roses wasn’t a commercial success for Starr it did leave behind this little experimental bit from two former Beatles. The album also featured the single, “Wrack My Brain,” written and produced by George Harrison, along with other contributions from Ronnie WoodHarry Nilsson, and Stephen Stills.

[RELATED: The First Song Ringo Starr Wrote for The Beatles, “Don’t Pass Me By”]

The Cooler was also the official British entry in the short film category at the Cannes Film Festival in 1982.

‘The Cooler’ promo, 1982 Cannes Film Festival (The Paul McCartney Project)

John Lennon

Much like Starr’s 1973 album Ringo, which was the only album to feature contributions from all four ex-Beatles, Stop and Smell the Roses was intended to have a similar “reunion.”

John Lennon had initially offered two tracks to Starr for the album—”Nobody Told Me” and the country-bent “Life Begins at 40” but was murdered before the sessions started. Starr decided not to record either song for the album following Lennon’s death.

“Nobody Told Me” was later released on Lennon’s sixth, posthumous album, Milk and Honey, in 1984, while the original demo Lennon shared with Starr of “Life Begins at 40” appeared on the 1998 compilation John Lennon Anthology.

Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images

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