"Well, most people like it and I like it, and I'm working hard and trying to keep the cost down"

J. Russell Finch CEO & President
The Pacific Edible Seaweed Company
Fresno, CA.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

HAVING A WILD WEEKEND 1965

     





      Although today they barely register in the minds of all but the most serious 60's music aficionados at one time The Dave Clark Five were considered pretty stiff competition for The Beatles. Blessed with a great lead singer in Mike Smith, they were the first British Invasion band to play Ed Sullivan after The Beatles (they would later appear 12 times on Sullivan) and were one of the only British Invasion bands to be more popular in America then their native country with 17 top forty hits on the American charts along with selling almost 50,000,000 records.
     Clark (the groups drummer) was smart enough to insist on ownership of the groups master recordings, but his dictatorial control of those tapes has led to the group's music being MIA in a physical format for decades. Their sound was a combination of American Rock and Roll and R&B filtered through Clark's primitive "wall of sound" production style and by 1967 they're never evolving music was considered antiquated in the burgeoning psychedelic scene and they faded away (although a bit bizarrely they did have a late 60's renaissance in England).




     In 1965 they duly made their motion picture debut in HAVING A WILD WEEKEND. Originally titled CATCH US IF YOU CAN in England, it was the feature film debut for director John Boorman and is unique in the fact that the group doesn't preform any songs through the course of the film. Obviously patterned after The Beatles A HARD DAY"S NIGHT The Dave Clark Five don't appear as musicians but as a team of stuntmen known as "Action Incorporated", Although a few of their songs appear on the soundtrack (along with an cash-in album being released) it's not a "pop music" film at all. While A HARD DAY'S NIGHT was all loud and frantic HAVING A WILD WEEKEND's script by Peter Nichols (GEORGY GIRL) is more quiet and introspective with a surprisingly tender romance lurking in its plot. All of which led it to being a relative flop at the box office.
     The film's beginning has the group shown living together in a London flat with and as they roust  themselves up in the morning they run through some Beatles-like humor and quips. Arriving at work they're assigned to work on a series on commercials as stunt coordinators for a British meat company whose billboards with the slogan "Meat For Go !" plaster the London cityscape. Dinah, the model for the ad campaign (known as "The Butcher Girl") is played with all sorts of beguiling 60's cuteness by Barbara Ferris (CHILDREN OF THE DAMNED).




     Steve, the head stuntman (played by Dave Clark) seeing the meaningless and vapid
commercialism of his life and work steals a Jaguar sports car from the commercial shoot and along with Dinah they both run off to the English countryside with the ad company and the remainder of the group in pursuit. Finding a group of young squatters in a burned out building on the military proving grounds of the Salisbury Plain (where The Beatles would film portions of HELP ! about the same time). Steve & Dinah take refuge with the pot smoking outcasts who confess to the duo that they're looking forward too moving into heroin (which seems a pretty surprising mention in teen oriented movie from 1965).  After an attack by soldiers they flee where they next encounter an unhappily married couple in large country (played wonderfully by Yootha Joyce and Robin Bailey) who keep a large collection of antique bric-a brac in a desperate attempt to hold on to their earlier happy times. Steve and Dinah speak wishfully of making it to an isolated island off the coast of Dorset, but they along with the viewers seem to be resigned to the fact that they'll never escape.
     With it's total lack of youthful exuberance or the celebration of the liberation that the by now exploding pop music world might bring HAVING A WILD WEEKEND instead seems to look forward to burned out hope of the late 60's and one can only wonder what the gaggles of teenagers who this product was aimed at thought of it at the time. Not a great movie, but an interesting take on that fleeting moment that was the "swinging sixties".




All above screen captures are from the Warner Archives MOD DVD 






Thursday, January 28, 2016

99 RIVER STREET Coming to Blu


"Rips into you like a double crossing dame !"


    Although they haven't set a definitive street date yet. Kino have announced that 99 RIVER STREET is coming out later this year on blu-ray. Directed by the great Phil Karlson, this gritty little 1953 B&W crime drama features a perpetually pissed off John Payne as a down and out boxer who as straddled with bitchy & two timing wife Peggie Castle finds himself framed for murder. While attempting to clear himself he beats up up scads of low life criminals and along the way enlists the help of the wonderful Evelyn Keyes (in what is probably her finest performance) and character actor Frank Faylen. With atmospheric cinematography by Franz Planer (with some really excellent boxing sequences) it also features Brad Dexter along lots of squalid hotel rooms, dingy bars and of course Karlson's trademark lean, mean & tight direction. 
   Currently available through MGM on their MOD program this will be a must buy (for me at least) and anytime we can get more Phil Karlson on blu-ray it's a good thing.