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  Play It Cool Full Force Of Fury
Year: 1962
Director: Michael Winner
Stars: Billy Fury, Michael Anderson Jr, Dennis Price, Richard Wattis, Anna Palk, Keith Hamshere, Ray Brooks, Jeremy Bulloch, Maurice Kaufmann, Peter Barkworth, Max Bacon, Monte Landis, Felicity Young, Helen Shapiro, Bernie Winters, Bobby Vee, Alvin Stardust
Genre: Musical, ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Billy Universe (Billy Fury) and his band The Satellites are on the up, and for their next gig they have been booked into a twist concert in Brussels, something they're really looking forward to as it looks as if they're about to break through to the big time. The all pile into their open topped sports car and drive to Gatwick Airport, though they've never flown before and are unsure of the protocol. Not helping is that one of the passengers (Richard Wattis) on their flight is a nervous flyer and convinced a crash is a very real possibility, but as it turns out the boys will have bigger problems than that when their plane is delayed...

One of many pop music cash-ins from the United Kingdom where a rocker of the day was offered a starring role no matter if they could act or not, Play It Cool was notable as one of the first screen successes for director Michael Winner. It was also notable for placing Fury, the most successful British chart act never to have enjoyed a number one hit, as the lead: he didn't make many appearances in the movies, with That'll Be the Day made after his heyday being the most respected of those, and once his ill health began to take hold he didn't appear in any capacity very often, dying in the early eighties when only forty-two.

Best to recall him here, and while he didn't perform any of his biggest hits during this, his natural charisma assisted in keeping a flimsy plot bubbling away quite nicely. That plot was not only concerned with the fact the band couldn't get to Brussels - you have to assume such a foreign trip was beyond Winner's budget - but an heiress too, one Ann Bryant (Anna Palk) who planned to elope with her playboy boyfriend Larry Grainger (Maurice Kaufmann) until her father (Dennis Price) stepped in, not believing that he was the right man for his daughter. Interestingly, the movie backs Mr Bryant all the way because Larry is something of a heel, but can Billy and his chums make her see that?

Ann was meant to be travelling to Brussels too, and meets the band on the plane, so one thing leads to another and when the flight is delayed for six hours, thus seeing to it that their journey is unnecessary because they would arrive too late even if they did take the trip, Billy and company escort Ann through the nightclubs of Soho. Well, three of them at any rate, actually an excuse to pack in more musical numbers from such famous faces of the day (in Britain) as Helen Shapiro, Shane Fenton before he became Alvin Stardust, and Danny Williams. There was also an inevitable imported American star in the hopes that the movie would be released there, in this case Bobby Vee who doesn't look like he spent more than one afternoon on the set.

It's all basic stuff, but there was a naive charm to this which combined with a more knowing quality as Winner exercised some of what he presumably hoped to be crowdpleasing moments. Not only Fury singing, but in the humour, as the famed Winner's crasser elements hoved into view during one of the many twisting sequences: in a beatnik club we are treated, for example, to the sight of a woman dancing so energetically her trousers fall down, and Jeremy Lloyd spilling champagne over a lady's bosom and making a lot of fuss in drying her off. But there were signs this was not going to play the game entirely: for a start, you fully expect Billy and Ann to gaze into each other's eyes at one point and admit that they are perfect for each other, but she's too busy being pissed off at Larry so if anything romantic did happen between the characters it did so after the end of the movie. A time capsule in its blithe manner, Play It Cool breezily supplied the requisite popsploitation beats.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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Michael Winner  (1935 - 2013)

Opinionated British producer-director whose early comedies - You Must Be Joking, The Jokers, I'll Never Forget Whatsisname - were promising enough, but come the seventies he had settled into a pattern of overblown thrillers.

Of these, Death Wish was a huge hit, and Winner directed two similar sequels. Other films included horrors (The Nightcomers, The Sentinel), Westerns (Lawman, Chato's Land), thrillers (Scorpio, Dirty Weekend) and disastrous comedies (Bullseye!). Also a restaurant critic.

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