By Jason Keil   Published Nov 18, 2004 at 5:24 AM

{image1} When the Ramones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002, the influential New York punk group finally got its due. Though pioneers now, they toiled for 22 years without producing a major hit, endured a barrage of beer bottles from audiences, and tolerated critical slurs from most of the mainstream press.

The new documentary "End of the Century" begins backstage as the remaining members of the band relish this hard-earned moment in the sun. Directors Michael Gramaglia and Jim Fields use the event as bookends for their film as they instantly flash back to Queens in 1974 when four friends with a love for The Stooges, The New York Dolls and sniffing glue were putting together a band.

The film moves at a pace as quick as "Blitzkrieg Bop," featuring extensive interviews with members of the band and everyone from Blondie, Sire Records label head Seymour Stein and Joey Ramone's mother, who knew her son was an exceptionally intelligent youth, despite his shyness and debilitating obsessive-compulsive disorder. Concert footage from their first performance at the legendary CBGB's serves as reminder of how raw and violent the Ramones' music was.

The documentary is a time capsule for a groundbreaking era in music when four guys with limited musical ability, simple melodies and four chords influenced many. "End of the Century" goes into detail about the band's historic trip to the U.K.

Appreciated and adored in England more than they ever were in the United States, the show was attended by only 60 people, but that meager number included members of The Clash, Sex Pistols and The Pretenders. In a humorous bit of irony, the film points out that Johnny Rotten thought the band members were going to beat him up for trying to meet them because of how intimidating they looked in their trademark leather jackets.

But the movie also shows the frustrations of being in a band, especially with members as uniquely different as the Ramones. Johnny Ramone often served as the reluctant big brother to the quiet Joey and the rebellious and heavily medicated Dee Dee, keeping the band in check and well-behaved during its grueling touring schedule. Johnny insisted the band stay on the same musical path, but personnel changes finally took their toll, even on the eternally optimistic Joey. The guys finally hung up the leather jackets in 1995 with very little fanfare.

Humorous and surprising revelations are sprinkled throughout this nifty little documentary. The segment about recording the album from which the documentary takes its name stands out considering the notoriety producer Phil Spector has for being a gun-toting genius. The film is a must for fans and causal admirers alike who seek illumination on the band who many declared saved rock and roll.

"End of the Century" will be playing at the Times Cinema as part of the Friday Night Freak Show on Nov. 19 and 26. For the uninitiated, the film begins promptly at midnight.