I Wanna Hold Your Hand (1978)
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I am a big Beatles admirer, but I wasn't around for this particular time period (I grew up with them during the 70s instead). But this film was sure a fun treat to watch! Delightful slapstick, lots of times completely unbelieveable, but who cares? The fun is in watching these very likeable characters (except that annoying nerd who was goofy and funny but not likeakle, and the Beatle-hater who tries to axe the show... LITERALLY) go through their exciting and silly adventure in their attempts to get tickets.
I was really laughing HARD while watching this one, and highly recommend it!
Out of all the characters, the one whom I fell in love with the most was the one young girl who wanted more than anything else in the world to see her beloved Paul McCartney. Long dark hair, just *slightly* chubby, having cute puppy dog eyes and wearing a sweet little pink bow in her hair, I felt so sorry for her. She wanted SO much to see Paul, and it was both funny and terribly heartbreaking at the same time to watch her rush into a phone booth to call the radio station with the correct answer for a Beatles trivia contest and be so anxious with her handful of dimes that she practically *THROWS* them at the phone.
My favorite lines declaring the Beatles one of life's happiest pleasures come at a scene when the bride-to-be is driving with her future husband (who gives the impression with his short onscreen time that he'd be a real CREEP to her!). Check this scene out and listen to her lines, they're priceless to Beatle fans everywhere.
I'm afraid I'm not a good judge concerning whether or not non-Beatle admirers will react so favourably to this one... but if they dig slapstick and watching people go berzerk over such ridiculous things as the everyday napkins celebrities use, they just might. I mean hey, I love the Beatles, but I would NEVER go for the nonsense that goes on here! So for both Beatle fans and non-fans, I think it's safe for me to say that this movie works as both a fun piece of nostalgia and a satirical look of human nature gone wild and how crazy some will go when it comes to beloved icons.
Oh, and I'm sure Paul finds it VERY flattering as well! Hee hee...
And forget Burt Lancaster & Deborah Kerr on the beach in "From Here To Eternity." For sheer lustful passion, that scene doesn't even come close to Nancy Allen's roll in the hay with Paul McCartney's Hoffner bass.
A flawless masterpiece!
Let me explain... now, I'm what you would call a late generation fan. I wasn't even THOUGHT of in 1964 because at the time, my mom was only 10 and my father was 12. So, with that said, I don't know anything personally about Beatlemania or what this performance meant to the nation at that time or what it was like just being a teenager during this time. That is, until I watched this movie. Watching this film and the antics of these characters is possibly the closest I will ever come to experiencing first hand what Beatlemania was like. It was like I was an unofficial member of this group of kids as they are trying desperately to get tickets to see the Beatles live on the Ed Sullivan show, all this starting by them trying to sneak into the Beatles' hotel.
I loved that Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale made a wonderful dynamic by NOT making all the characters involved Beatles fans which made the film that much more believable. Let's face it... as popular as the band was then(and now), they did have a great number of detractors and they were brilliantly represented in this movie by Susan Kendall Newman as politically driven, Janis who feels the Beatles are nothing but meaningless drivel and Bobby Di Cicco as macho greaser, Tony who thinks they just suck, period. Their presence was a great contrast to the rest of the cast, especially Wendie Jo Sperber as the sweet, cherubic Rosie, the most fanatical of the bunch that at one point of the film, she literally throws herself from a moving car just so she can get to a phone booth to win Beatles tickets on a radio call-in contest. The rest of the cast is rounded out by Nancy Allen as Pam, a bride-to-be roped into this adventure against her will and ends up having fortunate luck of accidentally ending up in the Beatles' hotel suite; Theresa Saldana as Grace, the career minded, future reporter who wants exclusive pictures of the band and will do anything(literally) to get them; Marc McClure as Larry, who has a crush on Grace and is willing to do anything to help her achieve her goal and Eddie Deezen as Richard who is Rosie's equally fanatical partner in crime as they reek havoc throughout the hotel.
Another thing I thought was a great direction taken by Zemeckis and Gale was to use Beatle sound-a-likes, not look-a-likes and to have the guys' faces hidden. This decision was terrific for this reason: the casting director could have auditioned actors until the cows came home and NONE of them would have been good enough to play the Fab Four. None. Thank goodness Robert and Bob realized that the power just in the Beatles' voices and music was enough not only to be the soundtrack of the film, but allowed we the audience to imagine the real Beatles instead of insulting us by making us accept four actors that would have most definitely paled in comparison to the real thing. I feel that even attempting this would have seriously cheapened the film and wouldn't have given it the impact that it has. It almost has the feel of it being a sort of time capsule and most certainly shows us the difference between hearing about what happened from someone else and being there. The film made me feel like the latter, like I was actually there.
So, long story short, the movie is a must-see for any Beatles fan. It'll make you relive the energy and excitement of Beatlemania or if you're like me, who was not around during this time, will show you first hand exactly what it was like.
I Wanna Hold Your Hand is the story of four young teen girls from New Jersey, Nancy Allen, Wendy Jo Sperber, Susan Kendall Newman, and Theresa Saldana and their quest to see the Beatles up close and personal and maybe get tickets to the Ed Sullivan Show. They inveigle young Marc McClure who is the son of a funeral director in their town to use his limousine, the better to get up to the hotel the Liverpool Lads are staying at. They also pick up Bobby DiCicco who hates the Beatles as foreigners and who are taking the place of his idols the Four Seasons. He's on a mission of his own to halt the broadcast by fair or foul. As history tells us he failed, but you got to see what intervened to prevent him from carrying out his task.
Best in the film is Wendy Jo Sperber, the Beatlemaniac on steroids. She is hilarious in her attempts to get to her Fab Four. Most annoying in the film is Eddie Deezen the nerdy kid she teams up with in her quest. I mean he comes off like SuperNerd, his lack of social graces is painful to watch.
Pieces and whole songs from The Beatles are heard throughout the film, fans will love it. Robert Zemeckis who directed and wrote the film had a real feel for those crazy times in New York in 1964.
The plot concerns several young women whose dream is to see The Beatles at Ed Sullivan's studio in New York. Most of the early part of the film deals with the fans attempting to break into the Beatles' hotel room, the second half shows the girls attempting to gain admission to Sullivan's show. There are some fairly slow spots about 3/4 through the film, but the climactic scenes about Ed Sullivan are very fresh and funny.
The cast is fine, including Will Jordan with his on-target impersonation of Sullivan, and the actresses playing the fans (Nancy Allen, Wendie Jo Sperber, Theresa Saldana, etc.) are just wonderful. Nancy Allen's adventures in the Beatles' hotel room--with her cuddling Paul McCartney's bass guitar and "harvesting" hair from a hairbrush--are hilarious and absolutely priceless.
Just about everything clicks in this funny, happy film. Whether you remember February 1964 or not, it's well worth seeing.
I'm way too young to remember back then (I was only 1!) but I heard this perfectly captures exactly what it was like back then with the hundreds of screaming girls trying to see the Beatles. The film is full of gags flying fast and furious. Not every one works and the film does have its dead spots (Allen being in their hotel room is kind of silly) but, all in all, this is lots of fun. The cast is young and appealing--Allen and Sperber especially are good. Also Will Jordan doing Ed Sullivan is more than a little amusing and it's always good to see Dick Miller (playing a police sergeant). Unfortunately Eddie Deezen is in this too and I find him completely annoying. Still, this is a must for Beatles fans and anyone who wants a good funny comedy. This was completely ignored when it came out but has since acquired a cult.
Scenes to watch for: Jordan's opening talk to staff, a barbershop sequence (you'll know it), the concert sequence at the end (beautifully shot) and listen closely to Jordan's final line. Fast, funny and loads of fun.
"I want you to be prepared for excessive screaming, hysteria, hyperventilation, fainting, fits, seizures, spasmodic convulsions even attempted suicide--all perfectly normal. It merely means these youngsters are enjoying themselves."
While I found this film to be extremely entertaining, viewers not as familiar with this period of the Beatles history may miss out on some fun. There are innumerable "in" jokes and references that will go over some heads. However, as a movie it stands by itself. I still laugh in the same places I did almost thirty years ago, and still find something new with every viewing. If you are in the mood to relive a little nostalgia or need a good laugh, give this little movie a chance. I'm sure most of you won't be disappointed.
I first saw this film on what used to be the old "Movie of the Week" program on ABC. I'd never heard of the film, but a Beatles' "revival" of sorts was sweeping the nation; courtesy the Stars on 45 remixes, that were being broadcast all over radio at the time. "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" was shown in that spirit.
Why this film failed at the box office I'll never understand. Even with a low marketing budget one would think that word of mouth would've helped boost this film's profits. Myself, I laughed when I saw the cleaned up version aired on television, circa 1979 or 1980. I caught sections of a rebroadcast some years later on another station, but had never managed to see it in its entirety again until now.
Now I own a copy on DVD, and laughed all over again at the adventures and misadventures of an eclectic group of young people trying to see the fab-four. The humor is witty, physical and intelligent, and the general overall feel of the film catches the period that was the early-mid 1960's when the Beatles shot to stardom, and then onto legendary icons. And the portrayal of the fans is spot on. Seeing the throngs of screaming teenage girls brings back memories.
Overall the film is very good, but again, as per my previous comments on other films, this film was made in a time when movies were made for everyone, and the audience was more adult not just in age but in attitude. This being so there're a couple of off color remarks made by the characters, but nothing with the fervor nor frequency of today's excessive use of same abusive language.
Do yourself a favor and help give this fantastic movie new life by renting or buying it. Relive the 1960's and Beatlemania! You won't regret it :-)
As an extra note, many of the cast members appeared in "1941" the next year. Needless to say, Eddie Deezen played the same sort of character.
For some, the transformation isn't that major - the fulfilment of desire; the attaining of boyfriend/girlfriend, and all the changes in sexuality and identity that implies; a realisation of one's own humility in the face of a power far greater than one's hubris - but for Pam, the film's unlikely heroine, transformation is literally lifechanging, on a personal as well as historical level, as she abandons the 1950 lifestyle open to her - marriage and docile wifehood to a dull conformist - and embraces the liberation promised by the 1960s.
This is experienced as both a sexual and existential dilemma, with its site in the appropriately Beatles-free group hotel room, where sexual release is displaced onto fan worship, and the change in personality and identity is so great that she gets a fright when she glimpses her reflection in a mirror.
The film opens with a very stern boundary, a police cordon around the Beatles' hotel on the eve of their first American telecast - Do Not Pass. The leads spend the movie trying all manner of increasingly desperate means to do just that. their overflowing hysterical desire is being continually foiled by the proliferating police; in conventional psychoanalytic terms, Desire being repressed by Law. Much is made of the way the leads are rebelling against their backgrounds, parents (either caricatures or very nasty), religion, social expectations; their continued thwarting by the Law leads to wild criminal acts against the Law. All of this rebellion is celebrated just as the Beatles and the 1960s issued in a bright new age of freedom.
it is appropriate that this struggle between repression and release should centre on an absence, the Beatles, ever-elusive, reduced to signifiers (accents, clothes), fetishised (we never see them in full, just backs, feet, hair etc.), their bodily reality transformed into secular Turin shrouds (the beds they slept in; the grass or carpet they walked on); at one stage even a mop is mistaken for a Beatle. To achieve privacy of identity they must adapt disgraces that negates that identity.
The brilliant finale, a recreation of the historic Ed Sullivan show, recreates every detail EXCEPT the Beatles, who are projected on TV monitors, the real men having been swamped by a cultural construct. The dream chased by these kids is ultimately a phantom, while their own transformations are very much linked to the body, as if in an extension of the religious metaphor, the man part of the Beatles has etherealised and has been transmitted to the acolytes.
This underlying cynicism belying the affectionate good cheer, and the wonderfully inventive comedy (often inspired by silent slapstick comedy) reveals, fully formed, the arch ironist of 'Forrest Gump'. The Beatles may be a force for good, but they replace one conformity with another - dissenters eventually succumb; alternative musics exist but are drowned out by the Mersey Roar. The liberation of spontaneous urges that was Beatlemania is shown to be a relentlessly mediated event, quickly profiting big business interests; while the publicity surrounding Pam's adventures in the hotel bedroom are uncomfortably cross-cut with the prostitution scene in another hotel room, old men explotiting young women. Unobtrusively ominous hints of Vietnam and the bursting of this particular bubble litter the fun, and the Expressionist nightmare in the barber shop, where the threatening seats seem to extend for ever, is one of the best things Zemeckis has done.
This is because the material he chooses lacks the inherent excitement of his work with Gale. What's more interesting: Carl Sagan space movie or Kurt Russell in a used car lot? With these people in charge, the latter wins out easily, and this first effort, released before the Spielberg-directed "1941," is perhaps the best of the Zemeckis/Gale collaborations.
The setting of I WANNA HOLD YOUR HAND is New York City, February 1964, just after the Beatles have landed. A group of teenagers descend on the Ed Sullivan Theater with disparate motivations: a Fabs fanatic (Wendie Jo Sperber) who hooks up with Beatles obsessive Eddie Deezen (in, believe it or not, a flawless performance), an ambitious young photographer, Nancy Allen as the prudish, tentative bride-to-be who ends up in the Beatles' hotel room, and a stuck-up Peter, Paul & Mary fan determined to stamp out the Beatles. The quiet loser with the car, the laughably clueless tough guy, the kid who needs a haircut, all adding up to a divine celebration.
This frantic comedy has the same urgent, blissful atmosphere that makes Richard Lester's A HARD DAY'S NIGHT such an endless delight, and even if Zemeckis can't match the inherent importance of the earlier film, he certainly can evoke its spirit. The characters in this utterly original comedy are all flawlessly developed, and the payoff never feels like a cheat. It helps Zemeckis and Gale that the Beatles were such a brilliant band -- their music lights the movie up -- but they also share with Lester a keen eye for just what the genius of that music really meant to the world, and the result is a real jewel. Its dismal performance at the box-office (along with that of USED CARS) is still an injustice even if the movie has redeemed itself since.
Check out the recently-released Universal DVD of I WANNA HOLD YOUR HAND, with an excellent commentary by Zemeckis and the always-informative Gale (who, to be fair, does confuse Brian E. with Neil A. at one point, but we forgive him, don't we?).
Of course you have to suspend belief to a small degree, you have to ignore that the actors playing The Beatles live don't have the moves shown on the real Ed Sullivan show at the same time on TV monitors down totally even, but that can be easily forgiven because that's a tough job. Plus as all Beatlesheads know, the group didn't perform just one song on the show (anytime they were on Sullivan they always played more than one). But hey this is a movie so dramatic license is needed, and watching the crowd go completely nuts as The Beatles perform "She Loves You" brings everything to a satisfying climax, in more ways than one apparently for Nancy's character. And a great ending!
Of course this can't begin to touch "A Hard Day's Night" but it is second only to that film in showing what Beatlemania was in 1964 as the band took over America. And two years before John's "we are bigger than Jesus" comment (taken out of context of course, but John WAS a wimp for apologizing) it is good to see that God wasn't going to allow anything to stop The Beatles broadcast!
The one bad thing about this film is that it has Steven Spielberg's name on it, because he is an overrated hack, but thankfully he is just the "executive producer" and didn't actually direct the film, because then it'd be horrible.
It also made me nostalgic for a forgotten era of comedy. This movie is not hysterical...but it's a fun story involving several intertwining characters and plots that you care enough about to stay interested. All in all it's a very entertaining film. We don't seem to get too many of these anymore. I'm a huge fan of Apatow films and others of the like, those movies have far more laughs per minute than "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" but will they still be entertaining 30 years from now? Who knows? Only time will tell...but this one's been time tested and I was pleasantly surprised by it.
It's a wild wacky time as the teens try to get to the seminal cultural event. The problem starts with the fact that not all of the six characters are friends. This disparate group is itching to come apart and that's exactly what they do. In fact, they scatter into six single individuals. The missing aspect of this wacky misadventure is friendship. The movie concentrates on the crazy hijinx but without the friendship, I don't care. The story could split the group but it needs to keep some of the kids together. The movie fails to deliver the relationships.