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  It's All Happening Steele Yourself, Tommy
Year: 1963
Director: Don Sharp
Stars: Tommy Steele, Michael Medwin, Angela Douglas, Jean Harvey, Bernard Bresslaw, Walter Hudd, John Tate, Janet Henfrey, Richard Goolden, Keith Faulkner, Edward Cast, Anthony Dawes, Barbara Clegg, Russ Conway, Alvin Stardust, Danny Williams, Marion Ryan
Genre: Musical, ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Billy Bowles (Tommy Steele) works for a record company, and harbours ambitions to become a singing star himself, but he's never gotten over his stage fright about performing, never mind his reluctance to blow his own trumpet. Yet he is very good with the artists, putting them at their ease as today when one singer flubs a take, but Billy is there to calm him down and the next one is a roaring success. The boss (Walter Hudd) is there, but so is Max Catlin (Michael Medwin), Billy's supervisor who is forever blaming him for whatever misfortune arises, so how can he catch a break?

1963 was of course the year The Beatles were causing such a commotion in the entertainment world, though you'd never know it from the business going on here as it looked as if the cast had stepped out of the nineteen-fifties. This had its charms, but the music was rather anaemic when you compared it with the tremendous excitement to be had elsewhere in the British industry, leaving a relentlessly family friendly effort whose roster of talent was largely forgotten within a few short years of the movie's release. Not Tommy Steele, of course, for he continued to wow audiences in his real passion, which was musicals on the stage.

You can see how this, his first film in three years and his last for four, would be appealing to that theatrical side of his act, not as much as his next, Half a Sixpence (which was adapted from his stage hit), but there were sequences in this which could very well have been lifted from a show at the London Palladium. The plot, such as it was, had Billy trying to organise a charity event for the orphanage where he grew up, simple enough and an excuse to put on various song and dance routines with Steele and some celebrity crooners of the day. Most of these you would likely only recall if you had known them from the time, although the erstwhile glam rocker Alvin Stardust, here as his former incarnation of Shane Fenton and the Fentones, was recognisable.

In addition, there was a subplot about private investigator Bernard Bresslaw (who doesn't sing, sadly) trying to find out for a rich benefactor if Billy is the owner of a birth mark on his leg, and therefore the man they're looking for, much of what seems like padding because it bears little relevance on the rest of it and is not even properly resolved come the final bow. Then there was Angela Douglas, best known for her Carry On movies, as Steele's love interest Julie who also works at the record company and is trying to persuade him to put himself forward as a fresh face in music, though she has a small crisis when she thinks Billy has a family he hasn't told her about, when all that's happened is he was buying presents for the kiddies at the orphanage.

This whole element of how nice Billy is to children is rather laboured, as there's an inevitable song he shares with them, a proto-Candyman ditty which enjoys a reprise for the heartwarming finale. Actually, part of the fun is trying to work out who the stars are on the posters on the office walls behind the cast, most of whom turn out to be far more famous than the guests they got to perform in the actual movie. Director Don Sharp was the man guiding this candyfloss concoction, how very different from his next assignments for Hammer, and there were a many diversions for comedy as in the dubious bit where Janet Henfrey played an eager would-be singer but because of her unconventional looks she ends up a punchline for a scene where the suits were wanting a glamour girl to trill for them. Whether the title was accurate or more optimistic is up for debate, but if you enjoyed this sort of vintage entertainment for thoroughly nice audiences then you would be satisfied.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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