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  Finders Keepers Spanish Bombs
Year: 1966
Director: Sidney Hayers
Stars: Cliff Richard, Hank Marvin, Bruce Welch, Brian Bennett, John Rostill, Robert Morley, Peggy Mount, Vivienne Ventura, Graham Stark, John Le Mesurier, Robert Hutton, Gordon Ruttan, Ellen Pollock, Ernest Clark, Burnell Tucker, Bill Mitchell, Ronnie Brody
Genre: Musical, ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: High above Spain a NATO bomber is transporting a cargo of atomic devices to its air base destination when they hit a spot of turbulence, which causes one of the bombs to slip out and fall to earth around the coast. Luckily it wasn't armed so does not explode, but nevertheless the presence of a potentially devastating explosive is not something you want when anyone can stumble across it so a search party is organised. Meanwhile, oblivious to this are Cliff Richard and the Shadows (as themselves) who have been stuck on a mountain all week, so have not heard the news, and are currently taking a ride on a train without a ticket, singing away merrily until the guards arrive. Once wandering the countryside, they do wonder where everyone has gone...

By 1966, Cliff Richard and his back up band The Shadows were looking a little like yesterday's men; they were still fairly young, but the British beat boom led by the world-dominating Beatles had left them rather supplanted in the affections of the record-buying public by a bunch of fresher faces. They were still enjoying top ten hits in the United Kingdom, but none of them cracked the top five, not even the very well-liked In the Country, so it could be this movie was an act of desperation to drum up publicity for their careers, reasoning their previous successes like Summer Holiday were responsible for raising their clean-cut profiles. Certainly it became the most obscure of their cinematic collaborations, and when you watch it you can well understand why.

It's just undistinguished, difficult to separate from a whole bunch of other pop musicals of the sixties, with the only feature that might stick in the mind the Spanish location - though Cliff and the Shads had gone abroad in their movies before. They had made a film with Robert Morley before as well, and he was back as a hotel owner who is hired as a spy by a shadowy (not that sort of shadowy) organisation represented by John Le Mesurier who makes thinly veiled threats that Morley's Colonel Roberts will be dangling at the end of a rope should be refuse to comply. However, complicating matters is that one of his staff is Peggy Mount, and she's a spy as well, working for the other side and as determined to get that atomic bomb as they are.

What do the band have to do with this? It's true that the plot could burble along happily without the influence of the music stars at all, but they were due at the hotel a week ago and on showing up late they are refused the chance to play by the Colonel's right hand man Graham Stark so have to contrive a bunch of nonsense about trying to find the bomb as well to stay relevant in their own movie. The locations were attractively captured in bright hues, the tunes were plentiful and pleasant, but somehow little of this stuck in the memory, with mild humour that didn't make you laugh and Cliff romancing a local senorita called Emilia (Vivienne Ventura, or Viviane Ventura as she called herself this time) who takes him home to meet her grandmother to hear about the joys of cooking paella.

On the other hand, there were indications director Sidney Hayers had a fair-sized budget to work with, most notably in such setpieces as the spooky flooded cavern set which impressed visually, or the way he was not short of extras for any kind of party and fiesta scenes that grew more prevalent as the film drew on. The trouble was that for a musical there wasn't one Shadows-penned tune that could be described as catchy, very different to Cliff's previous movies, and listening to him croon about washerwomen or making up some fairy tale in song with dolls was positively anaemic compared to what the Beatles had conjured up a few months before in Help! - whatever you thought of that, you couldn't deny the music was presented well and was more importantly high quality stuff. The trademarks of the sixties British pop musical were there, from the older celebs trying to find a new youth market recognition to the attempt to render this authentic with location shooting, but more often than not with Finders Keepers it was mostly for the uncritical fans this was made, unlikely to win converts.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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