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  It's Trad, Dad! You Has Jazz
Year: 1962
Director: Richard Lester
Stars: Helen Shapiro, Craig Douglas, John Leyton, Chubby Checker, Del Shannon, Gary U.S. Bonds, Gene Vincent, Gene McDaniels, Acker Bilk, Kenny Ball, David Jacobs, Pete Murray, Alan Freeman, Felix Felton, Arthur Mullard, Timothy Bateson, Ronnie Stevens
Genre: Comedy, MusicBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Once upon a time there was a small town which shall remain nameless where the Mayor (Felix Felton) wanted a cup of coffee. To satisfy this request, he went to the local coffee bar in the town centre and was just about to settle down to sip his purchase when a bunch of teenagers burst through the door and started causing a ruckus thanks to them dancing around to trad jazz music. Removing the chihuahua from his bowler hat, the Mayor barged his way out of the crowd and made up his mind there and then to ban all music and dancing from the area...

Was this where Footloose got the idea from? It's Trad, Dad! was not much like that aside from the premise, as this was one of those Brit flicks of a certain age where the movies tried to compete with television shows such as Oh Boy! and Ready Steady Go! where the audience could get all the popular music they wanted simply by sitting in front of the box. Thus a market of sorts opened up and Milton Subotsky targetted it, thinking that what ver kids wanted to see - and hear - on TV was what they would happily watch in the cinemas, making this one of the early productions released by Amicus, soon to be better known for their horror movies.

But Subotsky's masterstroke was to hire director Richard Lester for his film, and while the script credit goes to Milton, the jokes were very much in the style of Lester. For him, the only way was up since his next project but one would be A Hard Day's Night, a film that shot around the world and consolidated The Beatles as a vital presence in all sorts of media, not to mention utlising the same sense of humour Lester had tried out not only in his television work with the ex-Goons, but here in this modest effort. The surreal, endlessly irreverent nature to the jokes in this was what gave it the pep it needed, as while there were a large number of these cheapo movies made in this era, not many had much imagination.

So where it was a case of fill up the space between the music numbers with cardboard melodrama or creaky comedy, here Lester showed as much innovation in the laughs as he did in staging the acts. Those acts were a mixture of trad jazz favourites of 1962, Acker Bilk and Kenny Ball and the like, and imported American stars like Chubby Checker (finding yet another variation on the Twist), Del Shannon (sounding as if he was not ready to leave Runaway behind), Gary U.S. Bonds (who Lester interrupts for some bits of business as if he wasn't that important after all) and Gene McDaniels (bearing an odd vocal resemblance to Scott Walker with his plaintive ballad). Then ostensible leads Craig Douglas and Helen Shapiro get to croon and trill, in that order. None of these were particularly recognisable as hits, but they served their purpose.

Craig and Helen decide that if the music ban is going ahead, they plan to stop it in its tracks by putting on a show. But first they need a DJ to bring in the talent, so they ask the narrator (Deryck Guyler) if he can help which he does by magically transporting them to Television Centre where they roam the corridors looking for Alan Freeman (soon to be attacked by a killer plant in Amicus chiller Dr Terror's House of Horrors), Pete Murray and David Jacobs who all turn them down at first. This also offered the excuse for Lester to cut away to various musicians performing, notably having fun with The Temperance Seven who get the most Goon-ish treatment, and festooning the surrounding nonsense with wacky gags such as a restaurant where the diners are supposed to be watching the singers, but offering ample opportunity for a running joke with spaghetti. It may have been ephemeral, but it didn't pretend to be anything else, and this utter lack of self-importance sparkled brightly with daft fun and pleasing tunes.

Aka: Ring-a-Ding Rhythm
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Richard Lester  (1932 - )

American director, from television, in Britain whose initially zany style could give way to genuine suspense and emotion. After making his film debut with short The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film, which featured Goons Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan, he went on to throwaway projects like It's Trad, Dad and Mouse on the Moon. His next, however, was a smash hit all over the world: A Hard Day's Night, not least because it had The Beatles as stars.

Lester was at his most successful in the sixties and early seventies, with notable movies like The Knack, Beatles follow up Help!, stage adaptation A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, satire How I Won the War, romance Petulia, weird comedy The Bed Sitting Room, The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers and very British disaster movie Juggernaut.

Efforts like Royal Flash, Robin and Marian, gay bathhouse comedy The Ritz and Cuba made less impact, but in the eighties Lester was called in to salvage the Superman series after Richard Donner walked off Superman II; Lester also directed Superman III. Finders Keepers was a flop comedy, and Return of the Musketeers had a tragic development when one of his regular cast, Roy Kinnear, died while filming. Lester then decided to give up directing, with Paul McCartney concert Get Back his last film.

 
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