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  I Wanna Hold Your Hand Please Please Me
Year: 1978
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Stars: Nancy Allen, Bobby Di Cicco, Marc McClure, Susan Kendall Newman, Theresa Saldana, Wendie Jo Sperber, Eddie Deezen, Christian Juttner, Will Jordan, Read Morgan, Claude Earl Jones, James Houghton, James Hewitson, Dick Miller, Vito Carenzo, Murray the 'K'
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: It's February 1964 and guess who's about to land in the United States of America to create a sensation? The Beatles, that's who, and the day before they fly in from Britain, Ed Sullivan (Will Jordan), whose show they will be appearing on, prepares his team for the impending chaos as every teenage girl in New York City and it's environs will be attempting to get as close as possible to their idols. Among those girls are three friends from New Jersey, Pam (Nancy Allen), who will be getting married in a couple of days, Grace (Theresa Saldana) and Rosie (Wendie Jo Sperber) and today they are in a packed record store, with Grace and Rosie scheming about how to get into the Beatles' hotel. Pam is reluctant, but will they succeed?

There was a nostalgia boom in the seventies to go along with the other, typical crazes of the time, and this translated onto the silver screen as well. All those kids who grew up in the fifties and sixties were now making the entertainment, including blockbusters like American Graffiti and obscurities like All This and World War II, and this was apparent in the way they chose to relive their pasts in cinematic form. I Wanna Hold Your Hand was the contribution by debuting director Robert Zemeckis and his co-writer Bob Gale, then Steven Spielberg proteges, and it was rather lost in all the commotion.

A measure of that commotion happens onscreen, looking as if the creative duo never found a slapstick gag they didn't like. But the abundance of comic action works up into fine bursts of energy thanks to a cast who must have seemed to be going places, even if, Allen apart, none of them really attained anything approximating stardom. First the characters have to get to New York, and this involves recruiting a funeral limousine of the father of Larry (Marc McClure) so they can brazenly drive up to the hotel's front door and sneak in - it sounds like the perfect plan to their minds, so what could possibly go wrong?

Needless to say none of them have tickets for the show although that will be their ultimate goal, and with two Beatles haters along for the ride in the shape of Janis (Susan Kendall Newman), who prefers the protest songs of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, and Smerko (Bobby Di Cicco), a rocker wanting to disrupt the proceedings, the odds of getting to see the band are slim. Nevertheless they make it to the hotel and when Smerko dons his Beatles wig and pretends to be Paul McCartney he causes a near riot that enables them to enter the premises and start skulking along the corridors in search of the correct room.

Along the way, they are split up to have their own adventures, and like many other Gale and Zemeckis scripts "adventure" is a good description of their storylines. The high spirits keep the tone amusing, and the actors rarely hit the wrong note, with Allen finding herself a convert when she is accidentally delivered to the Beatles' empty hotel rooms and having a near-sexual, quasi-spiritual experience with the belongings she finds there. Sperber, meanwhile, meets up and hits it off with obsessive fan Eddie Deezen (great fun) who is mortally offended when she claims he is her boyfriend as he sees this as a betrayal of Paul who she professes to love. All four Beatles were alive at the time I Wanna Hold Your Hand was made, making this film a snapshot of an era in two ways, and its sheer good humour means it deserves to be more widely seen. Luckily, they got the rights to the Beatles' music, so that's what you'll hear on the soundtrack.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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Robert Zemeckis  (1952 - )

American writer, director and producer of crowd pleasing movies. The first half of his career is highlighted by hits that combine broad humour with a cheerful subversion: I Wanna Hold Your Hand, Used Cars, Romancing the Stone, Back to the Future and its sequels, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Death Becomes Her.

But come the Oscar-winning Forrest Gump, he grew more earnest and consequently less entertaining, although just as successful: Contact, What Lies Beneath, Cast Away and the motion capture animated efforts The Polar Express, Beowulf and A Christmas Carol. Flight, The Walk and Allied were also big productions, but failed to have the same cultural impact, while true life fantasy tale Welcome to Marwen was a flop.

With frequent writing collaborator Bob Gale, Zemeckis also scripted 1941 and Trespass. Horror TV series Tales from the Crypt was produced by him, too.

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