Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Rant #658: Catch Us If You Can

Today, director John Boorman is 79 years old.

This certainly isn't as momentous an occasion as was yesterday's birthdays of Betty White and Popeye, but it will do for today.

And rather than go over this guys celebrated history--including being the director of "Deliverance," one of the greatest films of the 1970s-- I want to focus on his very first directorial effort, 1965's "Catch Us If You Can," known in the U.S. as "Having a Wild Weekend."

The Beatles were red hot back then, and their "A Hard Day's Night" set the standard for teen films revolving around pop stars, and pretty much still does.

With the success of that movie, every British rock band with a hit on the charts seemed to be looking to make movies to expand their reach. Herman's Hermits, Freddie and the Dreamers, and Gerry and the Pacemakers all made films during this time period, with most of them being out and out flops, trying to copy the "A Hard Day's Night" style with dopy storylines and music that couldn't match the Fab Four's output.

Another British rock band that also starred in a movie during this period was the Dave Clark Five, then pretty much the Beatles' main competitor for record sales and heart-throb status.

Led by Drummer/Entrepreneur/Producer and general Jack of All Trades Dave Clark, the band had numerous hits by 1965, including "Glad All Over" and "Bits and Pieces." The time was ripe for a film, and Boorman helmed the movie.

Named after the newest of the DC5 hits, but changed in America for whatever reason, "Having a Wild Weekend" was sort of a downer, especially compared not only to the other British films featuring pop acts, but also based on the DC5's wildly interesting catalog of original tunes and covers.

The stomp wasn't there in the movie, and that hurt it tremendously.

Boorman helmed a film about a guy (Clark) who basically went on a series of adventures, with his bandmates clearly second fiddles to the action, or lack of it, in the movie.

What's worse, the band is never actually seen performing in the film--and what makes this even worse is that the soundtrack is an excellent one, featuring some of the best tunes in the entire DC5 catalog, in my opinion.

And if I remember correctly, this was the first film that I can ever remember where there the emerging drug scene was at the very least hinted at.

The film received mixed reviews and after checking, even some Boorman filmographies inexplicably leave the film out of his directorial canon.

The film has been out on VHS and DVD off an on since the 1990s, and was highly bootlegged before it came out legitimately. It has been shown on TCM numerous times, and the DC5 actually appeared in a couple of other films, but not as the stars as they were in this one.

So, happy birthday John Boorman. With all the major blockbusters he helmed, "Having a Wild Weekend" is a curiosity of its time period, and if you've never seen it, I would definitely give it a go.

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