Wednesday, June 23, 2010
June "Forgotten" Music: the film CATCH US IF YOU CAN, The Dave Clark Five
So, in late 1964/early 1965, the Dave Clark 5 were being carried along, like most British rock bands, in the wake of the Beatles in terms of international success, and were doing better than most...so a film in the mode of A Hard Day's Night seemed a natural next step. So, a youngish playwright and television writer, Peter Nichols, who would go on to Georgy Girl and A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, and an even younger tv director/producer, John Boorman, were tasked with coming up with a vehicle for the band and their songs...
...and came up with this, a rather rushed but thoughtful satire of much of what was concering the Angry Young Men and their fellow travelers in film and other media, including in a less concentrated way Richard Lester and the Beatles in the film which inspired this one. Catch Us If You Can (not usefully, but perhaps in hopes of giving the impression of more Whacky Fun than is at hand, retitled Having a Wild Weekend for US release) features Dave Clark as the most morose and aggressive of a group of young stuntmen (the band), working on an ad campaingn for butchery interests ("Meat for Go" is the unifying slogan) starring a young blonde, Dinah (Barbara Ferris), who is the not quite ensnared Trilby to the ad agency's Svengali. She and Clark's "Steve" decide to blow off work on a commercial halfway through a shoot, steal their prop Jag, and go on a road trip with agents of the advert campaign, sometimes supplemented by police, in pursuit. Steve is also smitten with Dinah, but can't quite sink himself into the romance of their lark as she does, even as they have rather jarring encounters with post-Beat proto-hippies squatting in abandoned buildings in a remote village (which are attacked by the British Army in practice raids using live ammo), a middle-aged married couple (who initially seem to be out of Edward Albee by way of The Graduate's Mrs. Robinson, but turn out to be rather less rapacious and self-deluding than that, as they host the fleeing couple and help them along), and so on to a rather realistic if perhaps overly stark ending. The film has flashes of brilliance in it, with Boorman's eye and Nichols's dialog at times putting it on par with most of the best of its era, and the performances of Yootha Joyce and Robin Bailey as the middle-aged couple almost universally praised, and with reason).
The music of the Dave Clark 5, while good, isn't as showcased as one might expect, with snatches often played rather than whole songs...and while the other members of the band are collectively present when at all, and not given too much differentiation, their performances certainly compare favorably to those of the Beatles or the other musicians required to act in their films (as opposed to the kinds of extended cameos the Zombies or the Yardbirds have in Bunny Lake is Missing or Blow Up, respectively, or the quasi-dcoumentary footage of the Stones in One Plus One. In short, none of the 5 are as bad as Lennon and McCartney often were and have been in their acting roles.)
From the soundtrack:
(one for Patti Abbott particularly:)
And a Forgotten Music note:
In a project associated with WFMU, there's an ongoing attempt to name some musical cues used by the Firesign Theater in their late '60s/early '70s radio hours...a challenge to all true forgotten music fans and slans...
For more "forgotten" music posts, please see Scott Parker's blog, on this and every last Thurday of the month...