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  Toomorrow Star Sound
Year: 1970
Director: Val Guest
Stars: Olivia Newton-John, Benny Thomas, Vic Cooper, Karl Chambers, Roy Dotrice, Imogen Hassall, Tracey Crisp, Margaret Nolan, Roy Marsden, Carl Rigg, Maria O'Brien, Stuart Henry, Kubi Chaza, Shakira Caine, Diane Keen
Genre: Musical, Comedy, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: There is a glowing flying saucer approaching planet Earth, and once it reaches the skies over London it throws down a beam of light that shines across the cityscape, as if searching for something. Which is precisely what it is doing, as the beam settles over the garden of a house belonging to Mr Williams (Roy Dotrice) who, having just got out of bed, is taken up into the ship as it orbits the world. For Williams is not an Earthling, he is a space alien sent to report on us and as he has done for the past three thousand years, he can offer no news. However, his superiors are intrigued by the new sounds emanating from Earth which could help them: sounds called music...

Toomorrow was the brainchild of producer Don Kirshner, the man behind such manufactured groups of the sixties as The Monkees and The Archies. After turning to cartoons to promote his pop, he went back to live action with this, which was hoped to start a whole new string of hits and ended up with what is now an item of pop culture obscurity, which is pretty much what it was back then as well. The audiences didn't catch on, perhaps because the 5th Dimension-Yellow Balloon style of sunshine grooves was sounding old hat by the time the seventies dawned.

Presumably, this made Toomorrow dated even as it was released, but you'd never know it from the enthusiasm on display here. If the film is recalled at all, it is because Olivia Newton-John was a member of the title band, providing what you might expect would be the lead vocals, but for the most part relegated to nothing more than backing singer. She plays a self-named music student, as do her three bandmates, and while from the opening you might be expecting a psychedelic freak out thanks to those crazy aliens gracing the initial ten minutes, mainly the film concerns itself with student politics.

Not the most promising take on pop stardom, and one written by the then-fifty-nine-year-old director Val Guest, not the kind of chap you'd expect to have the pulse of youth culture. We are treated to the ins and outs of college sit-ins, not only by the students but by the staff too, eventually making you wonder if the alien stuff was part of another film accidentally tacked onto the beginning. But after while - a long while - setting up the characters and their relationships, as they all have trouble with love, neglecting or feeling neglected by their partners, the group are approached by Mr Williams.

He sets up a recording studio in his house by pointing at pictures in a catalogue and zapping them into reality around his living room, then invites the group round. Suitably impressed, they play a song then get zapped themselves when the aliens take them up to their mothership; they are surprised at this turn of events, but take it remarkably well all told, only rebelling when informed they will be escorted back to the aliens' home planet to play concerts. A quick trip in an escape pod brings them back to Earth, but the aliens are not finished with them, and beam down a scene-stealing Margaret Nolan to seduce one of the band members (she learns what to do when Mr Williams takes her to see porn movies, which she finds hilarious). It all ends with a big concert as if to persuade you that these sounds are the greatest thing to happen to pop since the Beatles. Well, since the Monkees anyway, but the young adult age group this appears to be aimed at surely wouldn't take this seriously.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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Val Guest  (1912 - 2006)

British writer, director and producer, best known for his science fiction films, who started on the stage, graduated to film scriptwriting (Will Hay comedies such as Oh! Mr Porter are among his credits) in the 1930s, and before long was directing in the 1940s. He will be best remembered for a string of innovative, intelligent science fiction movies starting with The Quatermass Xperiment, then sequel Quatermass II, The Abominable Snowman and minor classic The Day the Earth Caught Fire.

He also made Frankie Howerd comedy The Runaway Bus, Cliff Richard musical Expresso Bongo, some of Casino Royale, When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, 1970s sex comedies Au Pair Girls and Confessions of a Window Cleaner, and his last film, the Cannon and Ball-starring The Boys in Blue.

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