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Dated but extremely enjoyable light pop vehicle for Anthony Newley, who since "Idle On Parade" had become a big name not only in acting but in the pop charts too. Newley stars with his good friend Bernie Winters, pretending to be a big time crook to impress him. Bernie in turn tells "The Gang" who want "in" with Newley, who has nick named himself as "the Cat". Also stars Ted Heath and his music and the lovely Anne Aubrey, who's short cinematic career showed more promise than she was allowed to provide! Dance sequences choreographed by Lionel Blair (with sister Joyce in the cast too!) Sheer delight! Enjoy and wallow in nostalgia!
I remember this film with lots of love. Yet I never see it on TV. Is it
lost forever? I gotta find me someone to love sang Tone on the shore of
the Thames. Spider played by actor James Booth, (under rated?) Whom I
associate with as a London lad and the ever lovable Bernie Winters.
There is a spiteful regress within British entertainment establishment that Tony Newley has never been fully appreciated. He hit the heights in Vagas, wrote some of the classic popular songs and had a long lived and loved life, yet always the depressed clown. Only John Ross has done anything for him in this last 20 years by a radio show on BBC2.
Last time I saw him, Newley, was at the Hackney Theatre, or was it Highbury, well, somewhere, and he was in great voice. 1990?
If anyone knows how I can get Jazz Boat on tape or DVD please write.
I was very young when I saw this film, but remember laughing most of the time, on the edge of my seat the rest. I really cared what happened to the main character (Newley) - Spider certainly terrified me! James Booth a very under-rated actor. Lionel Jefferies was his usual exasperated self, Bernie Winters the comic relief. Why don't we see this film on tv??? A very good example of British early-sixties light comedy.
This film was made on the cusp of a cultural revolution.Particularly in relation to music.At the time this film was made rock and roll was king.There were the mods and the rockers who would go down to Brighton and have a pitched battle.Ted Heath and his orchestra feature in the film.Dance bands which had held sway for over 30 years were fading away as we're the dance halls they played in.Much of the fashions shown and music heard in this film would very shortly disappear.The film is a crime drama with comedy and music.The Jazz boat of the title only appears in the last half hour of the film.Anthony Newley is rather good in the lead role and Bernie Winters is quite funny.Lionel Jefferies plays archetypal role but David Lodge is almost unrecognizable.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Before the Beatles arrived on the scene and Richard Lester demonstrated
why he was the "next big thing" on the directing scene, British pop
musicals followed America's lead. You usually had Cliff Richard giving
a benefit concert with the Shadows to save the local youth club or
going on a summer holiday in a London bus. There was also a thriving
jazz scene in which Richard Lester did try to incorporate, along with
some stars of tomorrow, in the infectious "It's Trad, Dad".
"Jazz Boat" was mainly a comedy in a jazz setting. Looks like there's going to be trouble when Spider's mob crash the jazz dance, where Ted Heath and his band entertain with the lively "I Wanna Jive Tonight". The bikers are creating a diversion, their real interest is the cigarette importers next door, which they plan to rob!! This is all penny anty stuff to Bert (Anthony Newley) - he is more interested in the jewel robbery on the front page and his movements are so suspicious that his friend "The Jinx" (Bernie Winters) is convinced he is "The Cat", who has been alluding police capture - and Bertie's not putting him wise!! Of course "The Jinx" spills the beans to Spider and his gang and in their excitement at meeting a big time hood, they dance to the exhuberant "Take It Easy - But Just Take It" in the local market!!! If you have ever seen the David Bowie movie "Absolute Beginners" which tried to bring back the youthful enthusiasm of these innocent movies and almost succeeded you will imagine what it is like!!! One person who has his eyes on all is Thompson the copper (Lionel Jeffries in his usual eccentric style) and Leo McKern makes a brief appearance as the inspector who has his eyes on Thompson!!!
In reality Bert is an electrician and a very honest one but when the gang "convince" him to take them on his next job, he reluctantly takes them to the jewelers where, earlier that day, he had just installed a burglar alarm. The rest of the movie finds him on the run from Spider and managing to lose them on the Jazz Boat!! Considering Anthony Newley's musical credits (the year after this, 1961, he wowed West End audiences with his big hit "Stop the World: I Want to Get Off") he only had one song to sing, the banal "Someone to Love". Still the London Bridge and market locations gave the song some interest. Another singer who made his movie debut but not much of an impression was Jean Phillipe singing "Oui, Oui, Oui".
Slinking her way through the movie was the gorgeous Anne Aubrey - initially Spider's girl but really with a big yen for Bert!! After looking her name up in IMDb and Wikipedia, I must say here was an actress with a lot of potential that Britain allowed to slip through their fingers - literally, as she lived in Spain for many years but her film work is almost non existent!!
1960? Really? The plot, such as it was is a childish take on an Ealing Comedy and is basically a vehicle for Anthony Newley to hone his light comedy acting chops. It's a real time capsule. The "kids" all look about 25 and it's clear that the producers consider "jazz" something those crazy kids will groove to. Ted Heath's Band (England's answer to the American Big Bands of Glen Miller, Woody Herman, Tommy Dorsey and others)seems to be mostly decorative with Ted himself seen in several shots. Costuming is another eyeopener, the non-acting extras are basically in baggy jeans or corduroys, Aran sweaters (men)and twin sets paired with flared skirts with voluminous slips beneath (ladies) - very student style then - I suspect they were recruited from the many jazz clubs around London at the time. In contrast Newley and the bad guys chasing him wear sharp, tight fitting suits and Aubrey and Blair are in cocktail dresses (why?). David Lodge is almost unrecognizable with a full beard and glasses (at first I thought he was supposed to be a rabbi...). James Booth is an early incarnation of his stereotype Cockney villain and Bernie Winters is the comic foil as the traditional "sidekick" that in US films always went to Phil Silvers, sadly Winters lacks both the talent and charm of Silvers managing instead to irritate and bore in equal measure. The film has value as a peep into the world of popular music and youth fashion, the music and the clothes were what their PARENTS had liked. In less than two years the whole music and clothing world was thrown into turmoil with the arrival of The Beatles and all the beat groups that followed them. Swinging London was about to erupt and all the conventions that this film displays were swept away.
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