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  Hold On! Hello Hermits
Year: 1966
Director: Arthur Lubin
Stars: Peter Noone, Karl Green, Keith Hopwood, Derek Leckenby, Barry Whitwam, Shelley Fabares, Sue Ane Langdon, Herbert Anderson, Bernard Fox, Harry Hickox, Hortense Petra, Mickey Deems, Ray Kellogg, John Hart, Phil Arnold
Genre: Comedy, MusicBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 2 votes)
Review: British pop group Herman's Hermits are to tour the United States, but the legions of screaming fans are proving hard to handle, so today the band dress up as policemen to fool them as they arrive at the airport to catch their next flight to Los Angeles. The ruse works, or it does until Herman (Peter Noone) cannot resist revealing his true identity to some of the girls whereupon a mad dash to the plane ensues. They get away, but are feeling bereft of company thanks to their tyrannical manager Dudley (Bernard Fox) - what's the point in being in America if they never meet any Americans?

Hold On! was a title obviously desgined to make comparisons with the Beatles movie Help!, and Herman's Hermits were one of many bands in the sixties who saw their recording fame translated into an attempt at movie fame to cash in on their careers. Alas, even in Help!, the Fab Four showed far more ability in front of the camera than too many of their contemporaries, leaving the decade littered with the wreckage of optimistic efforts starring pop groups of yesteryear that few but the nostalgists would ever think of visiting again.

Not, er, helping matters here was that while Herman and company were sparky pop performers, when it came to thespian technique they were barely a notch above amateur, which was likely why hardly any of them got any lines, leaving their leader Noone with the lion's share of the dialogue, him being the lead singer and tambourine player and all. He was dreadful as well, but at least for British audience the novelty of seeing these Manchester boys in a vehicle that even Elvis Presley would have turned down offered this some entertainment value that those across the Pond would now dismiss as an embarrassment.

Looking like a human gonk and polite to a fault, Noone got his substantial gnashers around dialogue that insisted on reminiscing about Brighton and pots of fish and chips (huh?), but like Elvis, he also got to romance Shelley Fabares, who here was playing Louisa, the daughter of a rich dowager (Hortense Petra). He catches sight of her at the beach from his hotel room window and it's love at first sight, indicated by him daydreaming about saving her from Dudley in the guise of a knight in shining armour. Other complications arise when local celebrity Sue Ane Langdon tries to hitch her trailer to Herman's success, pretending they're old friends when he hasn't the faintest idea who she is.

But the main plot point, aside from getting the band to play a few of their tunes, is the one everyone recalls: the hard to believe development that NASA are being forced to name a space rocket after the Brit beat rockers. This sees one of their representatives (Herbert Anderson) following them about too, in order to see if they're suitable and ending up the butt of much water in the face slapstick. But if you were a fan of the era - Herman's Hermits were huge in the States, far more popular than they ever were in Britain - you'd most likely to be wanting to hear the hits, although mainly these were hits over there, as in their native land their version of George Formby's Leaning on a Lamppost did nothing (this in spite of it being performed floating in space suits in the movie for a baffling number). Really this was on the level of opportunist producer Sam Katzman's other music movies, quickly made to make easy money, though the group did make one other film which had rather better tunes, but no better acting.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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