Dinah is a model whose face appears in an ad campaign for meat. While shooting a TV commercial, she and Steve, one of the stunt men, run off together. The advertising executives use their ... See full summary »
Intent on seeing the Cahulawassee River before it's turned into one huge lake, outdoor fanatic Lewis Medlock takes his friends on a river-rafting trip they'll never forget into the dangerous American back-country.
Gerry and Fred Marsden, Les McGuire, and Les "Chad" Chadwick portray themselves in a romp through the early 1960's Liverpool Beat Scene. Art students by day and musicians by night the boy's... See full summary »
Dinah is a model whose face appears in an ad campaign for meat. While shooting a TV commercial, she and Steve, one of the stunt men, run off together. The advertising executives use their disappearance to generate more publicity for... meat. Written by
George S. Davis
Recently I bought the DVD of "A Hard Day's Night", and spent a whole weekend watching and re-watching it. You might gather from this that I love the movie, as indeed I do, so what I'm going to say now may very well shock you: "Catch Us If You Can" is a better movie. Of course it wouldn't exist without the pioneering example of "A Hard Day's Night", which changed youth/pop movies for ever, but it really is a better movie.
I'm always inclined to see it as the final instalment of an early- to mid-60s trilogy of movies that began with Ken Russell's "French Dressing", and continued with Michael Winner's "The System". (I'm tempted to extend this to a tetralogy, with Richard Lester's "The Knack" as the last instalment. But, unlike the other movies, "The Knack" was a critical and commercial success - Palme D'Or at Cannes, and all that.) There's a continuity of mood, if not theme, between these movies, a strange mixture of exhilaration and wistfulness. The "phoney" 60s, a sort of hangover of the late 50s, lasted in Britain until about 1962 (although there were intimations of what was to come in Anthony Newley's "The Strange World of Gurney Slade"), but the Satire Boom, followed quickly by the Beatles, ushered in the real 1960s.
"Catch Us If You Can" takes a number of audacious risks from the very start: the Dave Clark Five are not a pop group playing themselves, but a team of stuntmen working on a series of TV commercials; their songs are performed off-screen as the soundtrack to the on-screen action; the movie insists strongly on the wintry season in which it was filmed: the frozen milk, the unbearably cold conditions of the meat warehouse, the orange growing safely inside the glass conservatory, the snowy countryside.
There is little of the lightness of mood of "A Hard Day's Night". "Catch Us If You Can", like its saturnine hero, Steve (Dave Clark), is strangely downbeat and melancholy. Not even the kittenish Dinah (Barbara Ferris) is capable of raising Steve's mood of dejection for very long. Absconding from the commercial they are filming, Steve and Dinah make an erratic Pilgrim's Progress across the West Country en route to an island, off the coast of Devon, that Dinah is contemplating buying. On the way they meet a group of proto-hippies (the term would not be in widespread use until the middle of 1966) squatting in abandoned buildings on Salisbury Plain, and a bickering middle-aged couple living in the opulent surroundings of Bath's Royal Crescent. In a sense, all of these people are in flight from the modern world.
The ultimate source of Steve's dejection is Leon Zissell, the svengali-like advertising executive, who is quite evidently besotted with Dinah. Zissell casts his shadow wherever the absconding couple might find themselves.
Guy and Nan, the bickering middle-aged couple, seem somewhat sinister at first, but they show themselves to be essentially good-hearted. Both are collectors, and we initially assume that Steve and Dinah are to be added to their collections. Actually, Nan collects old clothes, while Guy collects old phonograph recordings, photographs, etc., ("The pop art of yesteryear"). Anyone viewing "Catch Us If You Can" nearly forty years on will see how it has now been added to Guy's collection itself, a clever and telling touch. (Touching, too.)
The Austin Powers movies, funny and clever as they often are, have seriously distorted younger people's perceptions of the 1960s. Amidst all the "grooviness" there was always a quieter, more reflective aspect to the 60s (e.g. "Blow-Up"), and "Catch Us If You Can" captures this. Clear your mind of preconceptions: this movie is NOT a failed attempt at re-making "A Hard Day's Night", but a brilliantly successful attempt to make something quite different - a thoughtful, grown-up film that stands the test of time.
31 of 34 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?