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Friends Herman, Karl, Keith, Derek and Barry are working class Manchester lads who aren't getting very far in their respective working lives. That fact is epitomized by Herman's failure to get the promotion to junior account executive at the advertising company at which he works. Regardless, his Grandmother Gloria, with who he lives, has faith in him. What Herman really wants to do is race Mrs. Brown, a greyhound inherited from his now deceased grandfather. Mrs. Brown is a natural racer and has the potential to win. His four mates have bought equal ownership of Mrs. Brown. Their problem is is that what little money they collectively have goes into the care and feeding of Mrs. Brown, which doesn't leave them enough money for such things as race entry fees, the ultimate race being one held in London. So, they try to raise money by their band Herman's Hermits playing at whatever gig they can get. In their quest to get themselves to London and Mrs. Brown into that race, they get into one ... Written by
Woman on Embankment:
[as Percy the Hobo blocks her taking a photograph of the Houses of Parliament]
Here. Watch it. You're messing up the Houses of Parliament.
Well, Madame, I'm not the only one.
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Late night fun - if you are interested in period detail and backwater pop history.
Five lads from the back streets of Manchester come to London to race a dog (Mrs Brown of the title) and earn a few quid playing music on the side. Note the order and stress.
Time plays games with film. What is seen as throwaway and nothing at the time can start to have some historical value and - naturally - what was seen as having deep meaning can become meaningless to a new audience. This production has its values - to me - in showing London when I first went there and comparing it to now. Indeed it is worth viewing for that alone.
(A lot of the background has been sandblasted since the time of this film and the docks are now mostly flats and offices.)
Those not interested in period detail and third-rate pop history/acts are going to feel their fingers on the remote control very quickly.
To save time and money let us take a list approach.
1. The main players are musicians and they have no acting ability. Indeed Peter "Herman" N-O-O-N-E (which IMDb corrects to call No One!) makes Cliff Richard or David Bowie look like Oscar winners. Seems nice, but dim, with so many teeth his mouth won't close. He has got them fixed now as a Youtube/Google search will demo. Kept his hair as well - lucky sod!
2. If you can't spot Elstree Studios (pretending to be a country pad) then you haven't watched enough Brit film. Boy am I sick of this white building. I feel like I have lived half my life there.
3. The script was knocked together on-the-quick after the title song was a surprise No.1 US hit by Metro Goldwin Meyer - as part of the trend (at that time) to try and spread Hollywood to Europe. Didn't work, nor did director Saul Swimmer from this point on.
4. Manchester is shown as being prehistoric in nature and at least ten years out of date. People had updated and improved by then. We didn't wash in the front sink anymore!
5. Unlike every other "do you lads want to be rich and famous?" the band seem little interested in music or fame. Indeed they seem little interested in girls either. When an early stoner tries to tag along they give her the elbow in no uncertain terms. Free love hadn't got past Watford in this film.
6. N-O-O-N-E misses the big gig at the hip night-club because he is out looking for a dog. Is he bothered by this? Not really - but maybe the director couldn't get emotion out of him?
7. While the group (or N-O-O-N-E and whoever!) still play today - they were going out of date already. They are squeaky clean mods about to hit the hippie scene. The party clothes were actually very accurate for the time: Couldn't be tight enough - couldn't be bright enough!
8. There is really no plot beyond the maguffin of the dog, who doesn't do much more than pant and look bored (she is not alone!) I thought she should at least get to chase a few sticks. The racing plot seems to fizzle out out to nothing.
9. Bit part actors like Stanley Holloway steal the show, although he is an old-time knees up man.
10. Unlike any other pop film this isn't a journey to anywhere or anything. Nothing has changed for the boys. Have they learnt anything or got a taste of something better or even different? The final reel goes comes up and you haven't got a clue!
Derek "Leck" Leckenby (the Buddy Holly lookalike on guitar) is the only one of the group to have passed away (1995) He worked in the music biz until his death - by cancer - at the age of 51. This was his last film. RIP.
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