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I have always loved Herman's Hermits, and I really liked this movie. I
don't suppose that I would have liked it when it first came out because it
would have been bunched in with all of the other `rock' musicals of it's
time, trying to compete for the `young' in-crowd. Nevertheless, as I look
at it now, I see it as a charming film from another era.
The plot itself is very interesting and different. It is not your typical `garage band goes to the big city and gets discovered' type of film. They are looking for fame and fortune by way of the champion Greyhound, Mrs. Brown. The rock band thing was just a side interest in this film, much different from other rock musicals of its time. Other `rock' star films of that era were used merely as a publicity showcase for the band to play their music. This film actually had a decent story with some music in it.
The cinematography was fabulous in this film. If for anything at all, you should watch it for this aspect alone. I enjoyed the whole film, but the ending was a bit vague. I was able to figure it out after a while, but it jumped from scene to scene without smooth transitions of ideas.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Loosely based on Herman's Hermits 1965 US hit, this movie version came
out three years later at the 'tail end' of their popularity, which
seems appropriate given the film is about dog racing. A premise every
bit as daft as the original song, a prime example of the kind of
British invasion hit considered one of those cute little British songs
in America and regarded as less than credible in its home country. Set
among a cartoon view of swinging London and not so swinging Manchester,
the film offers much to those who derive pleasure from seeing a
somewhat upside down vision of 60's Britain or secretly wish there was
such a place as this. It's a film full of stock shots of the changing
of the guard, barrow boy musical numbers, where there always seems to
be some kind of London landmark in the background and where everyone
says "best of British luck".
Peter No one plays Herman, a proud Northerner "remember you're not Britain, you're Manchester", who having failed to get a job in advertising gathers a few of his mates together (the rest of the Herman's Hermits with their character names the same as their own) and tries his chances in the world of dog racing having just inherited a greyhound called Mrs. Brown. Oh and as we all need something to fall back on, Herman and the boys also form a pop band to fund their way to London and its race tracks. Their first gig is an inglorious affair, playing backing group to an old codger singing "my old man's a dustman" in a Manchester pub, which ends up the boys being short changed and a mass punch up in the pub (look out for an uncredited Rita Webb encouraging the men to smash each others faces in). Still they manage to find enough money to go to London leaving behind Herman's Gran and Tulip (an ultra-sweet Sheila White) the girl next door who is secretly in love with Herman. Down South things don't go as planned, they get turned away from a B&B when the owner takes offence to renting a room to a few lads and a 'Mrs. Brown' (clearly thinking the dog is a woman of easy virtue) and bamboozled into renting another room only to quickly realize via alarm bells and men sliding down a pole that they're in a fire station! They have more success with Mrs. Brown on the racetrack, though if you've only seen the pan and scan version of the film-which manages to crop both dog and hare off screen-you have to take the Hermits' word for it. Its at the race track where the group meet another Mrs. Brown (Mona Washbourne) who has a lovely daughter, namely Judy a fashion model who introduces Herman's Hermits to the swinging London scene. "London is for the birds" claimed the film's poster "and the loveliest of birds are flocking to Herman and his Hermits" well not quite, in fact the only character who appears to be getting any is Mrs. Brown. Not the Mona Washbourne character you understand, but the dog, who ends up giving birth to a puppy at which point Herman sings well surely you can guess what.
The worlds first and only pop musical/dog racing crossover,it was a brave soul who pitched this idea to producer Allen Klein (yes, the Allen Klein). It's a cinematic peculiarity in many ways and one that largely eschews any expected dramatic incident. The band never becomes famous and romance wise its boy meets fashion model, boy loses fashion model but ends up with a puppy-as Herman comments "what you lose on the swings, you gain on the roundabouts". There is also a tendency for older members of the cast to steal the spotlight from the pop star leads with standout performances from Stanley Holloway and Lance Percival. Holloway as barrow boy turned self-made-millionaire Mr. George George Brown ("it was my dad's fault he stuttered") and Percival as Sir Percy the tramp with the demeanor of an aristocrat. Playing a role that's Part Dr Who, Part proto-bohemian drop out, Percival achieves the kind of on-screen coolness that leaves the films swinging London set looking like vacant bores. While Percival doesn't get to sing (though he does manage to play the spoons) Holloway joins the boys to belt out 'Lemon and Lime' an ode to barrow boys ("press down the scale and you'll go to jail") and the rest of the elderly cast members for the very touching 'The World is for the Young' in which Holloway reflects on "the passing of an age and all the people that I met". Two songs Graham Gouldman -later of 10cc- has probably forgotten writing. Of the Herman's Hermits only No one and the late Derek Leckenby really register as characters, hardly the most hippest of band to name check their wholesome image must have seemed out of step back then and now seems a virtual parody. Their sole stab at on screen greatness-a psychedelic jam at a club-is worthy of being inter-cut with a bad drug trip sequence but this being a Herman Hermits film is actually inter-cut with Herman searching for his missing dog. Oh well what you lose on the swings, and all that.
Trying to convince people Mrs. Brown You've got a Lovely Daughter is the best British film ever made is likely to be drowned out by laughter, but to give the film its due it's a fun filled, strangely charming guilty pleasure. Who can really resist the spectacle of Herman's Hermits film in which the musical highlight is performed by Stanley Holloway and Mona Washbourne and the script's suggestion that the band only drifted into music to fund dog racing gives pause for thought whether the Hermits' contemporaries had similar career sidelines up their sleeves. Were the Rolling Stones closet jockeys? did The Kinks ever breed pigeons? and what about The Animals? You never know.
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.
I was ten years old when the British Invasion reached the shores of
North America in 1964, and I was fourteen when the Hippie Revolution
took-off in 1967-68. I think this Herman's Hermit movie was a bridge
between the two time periods. It reminded me of how the Monkees
attempted to jump from the mod to the flower power era during the
second season of their TV series.
I was crazy about the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Gerry & the Pacemakers and the Dave Clark Five, but I always looked down at Herman & his pals as an overly cutesy girl band. My sisters, Pat & Barb, loved them. However, I found myself rather enjoying this film for many reasons. One thing that stands out is that it is moodier than one would expect from Peter No one. I also enjoyed the scenes with the lads trying to earn money as construction workers. Most of all I liked seeing the Hermits (without Peter) getting down with some semi-hard tunes in a London night club). It seems to me that the Hermits toured my native Wisconsin in 1977 as an instrumental group.
After all of these years I have come to have more of an appreciation for Herman's Hermits and their calmer, happier brand of British Invasion music. This movie could very well be the swan song of a cooler time before we got caught up in Viet Nam, Norhern Ireland, campus demonstrations, drugs, race riots and the rest.
I wonder if any our British counterparts out there have any idea where I could get a copy of Gerry and the Pacemakers movie, FERRY ACROSS THE MERSEY? Thanks, mate
As bad as this silliness was it still outshone The Beatles "Help" by a wide margin. It was, however, not in the same class as "A Hard Days Night" by the Fab 4 which was a masterpiece - well, sorta. In Mrs. Brown we have the 5 cute Hermits running around England trying to become big time dog racers, making time with cute birds, grinning like blind apes, playing their abysmal songs, and proving their talents lie not in acting. I enjoyed the film very much because it showcased one of the original 'invasion' groups, not because it was an award winner; although it really wasn't all that bad either. Is it possible the Hermits popularity waned because at the time of this filming most rock groups has gone beyond the squeaky clean, suit and tie, short/mod hair Herman and the boys were sporting? These blokes looked like advertising men when compared to Big Brother or the Dead.
I'd never heard of this film before TCM started screening it as a late
night filler - and initially woke up in the middle of it when Holloway
and co were singing the poignant and totally unexpected The World is
for the Young. I actually couldn't get the song out of my head for
After that I kept stumbling across bits of it on different screenings and each time I said to my wife "I kinda like this movie" Tonight I finally managed to watch it from the start and although as a film it doesn't really amount to much it's such a good natured, sweet and enjoyably off kilter movie that it just makes me feel good to see it.
I wanted to see what other people thought and it seems a few reviewers do get it - whereas some others seem to get strangely vindictive and offended.
Yes it's completely out of jaunt with it's year and the Hermits were anachronisms by 1968 but Peter No one (I tried to make his surname come out correct) is perfectly fine in the lead, the supporting cast is great, the brightly coloured widescreen is a pleasure to the eyes.
Guilty pleasure or not I've really warmed to this.
I really don't see what the bad reviews are about. I loved this movie
and I've seen it many times. The story is cute and the overall plot is
not bad either.
The basic storyline is this. Herman's Hermits own a dog named Mrs. Brown. They take her out on the track one day and they know immediately that she would be a champion race dog. The only problem is that they need money (entrance fees, etc.) in order to get started. They decide to play in some small clubs for money. There are some side story lines such as Percy, the man Herman meets while watering flowers on his grandfather's grave. Percy gives them a place to stay for a few days. A few day's later, Mrs. Brown gets lost and she turns up with Percy, who brings her back to Herman. Herman finds out she's going to have a puppy. The puppy is a female and at the end of the movie, Herman goes into the house and as he's watching the puppy, he starts singing "Mrs. Brown, you've got a lovely daughter".
This movie is not geared toward someone who is looking for a movie with some sort of deep meaning. This movie has to be watched for what it is - a regular, cute story with a happy ending.
By 1968 Herman's Hermits had become passe to their teenybopper fans, so it is not a surprise that this picture was barely released. It was one of the last of a subgenre of building a movie around a British Invasion musical group. Mrs Brown in this case was a greyhound that the band try to make into a racing champ. The redoubtable Stanley Hollaway provides some professionalism as the band's wealthy sponsor. And he just happens to have a daughter that Peter Noone takes a shine to. Do you think she will toss off her arrogant fashion photographer boyfriend to be with Noone? If you don't know the answer to that one , you haven't seen too many movies! Still this has some nice color photography and it's always amusing to see Hollywood's idea of "hippies" from the late 60's.
I'm a big fan of this movie, but that's only to be expected, as I am also a big fan of Herman's Hermits. (Their faces adorn a whole wall in my room...what can I say.) I found this movie to be both entertaining and visually appealing, showing Manchester and the more hoppin' London of the time. I'm very familiar with each one of the Hermits (Herm, Lek, Keith, Barry, and Karl), and for those who also know of each one and their personalities, it's great seeing the lads and hearing their banter. Peter, especially, shines and does a quality job in the main role. (Not surprising, considering he had been an actor prior to Herman's Hermits.) In the movie, the boys buy shares in a racing greyhound, but must form a band to make money to race her. The story follows Herm and the lads as they travel from Manchester to London, meeting new people and trying to achieve musician status. I've seen all the Beatles movies, and in comparison, found this plot to be more riveting. Of course, I could've watched the movie with the sound off, and just enjoyed fangirling over how cute the boys were. I must mention that my mother is a baby-boomer and found the movie to be dull and lifeless. Though I'm 16, the Hermits are my favorite band and I love their music and each member (I'm a sucker for happy bubble-gum pop and adorable Mancunians.)I would recommend this movie highly to any fan.
"Mrs. Brown, You've Got A Lovely Daughter," was filmed two years too
late to have any real box office success in the US.
Then again, it wasn't anything like the loopy, goofy, rollicking Brit Invasion silliness associated with their 1966 MGM film, "Hold On." The people who expected "Hold On Again" are totally clueless about this film.
This was a small, simple, charming decidedly very British film that probably wasn't intended for much of an American release. I never saw it until a few years ago when it was on Turner Classic Movies.
The group's hits dried up here in 1967. No hits in a year was a big deal that usually meant the end of the ride. However, the group continued to hit the charts quite nicely in the UK and Europe (as the Kinks did before their American comeback in 1969). This film was for them.
And if any Americans appreciate it, all the better! It is a nice quaint little film with nice little ditties.
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