2019 and it’s difficult to think that the eternal Peter Pan of Pop Cliff Richard was a bit of a bad boy in his early years. At least that was the intention as the bad boy image was little more than curling up his lip and presented as a not altogether convincing UK equivalent to Elvis. Summer Holiday saw the bad boy in probably the pinnacle of Cliff’s film career having debuted in ‘Serious Bongo’ followed by ‘Expresso Bongo’ both now hilariously dated. Summer Holiday was Cliff’s fourth film released in 1963 and was very much of its time. Cliff was not the first singer to make the transition into films – Sinatra had done pretty well having carved a respectable career notably in On The Town, From Here to Eternity (for which he won an Oscar), High Society, Oceans 11 and The Manchurian Candidate.
Cliff’s film career was more akin to Bing Crosby and his ‘Road to…..’ light comedy films where he was partnered with Bob Hope. Summer Holiday would see Cliff paired with his backing group The Shadows who played minor support roles. Cliff played Don, a London Bus mechanic, who along with his friends Melvyn Hayes, Teddy Green & Jeremy Bulloch strike up a deal with London transport to convert a double decker bus into a hotel on wheels. The four then set off to Europe for fun in the sun and a variety of adventures along the way and meeting ….um…….Una Stubbs.
Co-written by the late Peter Yates it was his directorial debut and he would go on to really make his mark with Steve McQueen in ‘Bullitt’ and THAT car chase around San Francisco. Here though he had to contend with a London bus and a wannabe bad boy pop star. Yates had taken a leaf out The Wizard of Oz starting the film in black and white before cutting to bright as a button Technicolor and Cliff and co would, in time honoured tradition, bursting into song at the drop of a (bus conductors) hat for no apparent reason. By today’s standards Summer Holiday is undoubtedly dated but there’s a lot to be enjoyed here if you can suspend your cynicism for an era which seemed far happier. The UK was finally emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, rationing in the UK had ended and the 60’s was now becoming more permissive. For Cliff Summer Holiday was an end to an era for him also because an upcoming band called the Beatles were very quickly emerging and laying waste to all before them and their first film, ‘A Hard’s Day Night’ and its innovative and playful technique with film structure was to cast aside the type of upbeat traditional musical film like Summer Holiday.
This re-release of Summer Holiday is reminder of 60’s nostalgia with a bunch of decent songs including the eponymous title track . The disc has an interview with a slightly awkward Bob Stanley author of ‘Yeah, Yeah, Yeah’ which places the film in context in terms of modern pop. The other bonus features are a mixed bunch with the featurette ‘Cliff Drives a London bus’ about Cliff learning to….well, you work it out. It’s a shame that there is no mention of influential early 80’s anarchic TV comedy ‘The Young Ones’ with Rik Mayall, Ade Edmondson et al and their parody of the film that ended the series in inflammatory style. There’s also a Pathe film of the films premiere with many big stars of the time now long forgotten and perhaps most bizarre of all is a short film called ‘Rhythm & Greens’ that starts with individual members of The Shadows on a beach bending over with another band member running up behind them in alarming style prompting you to wonder just what is about to happen. What does happen is it becomes a sort of educational ‘dawn of man’ short film with The Shadows as cavemen miming to a song whilst pretending to play instruments made of bones and rocks and frankly has to be seen to be believed. There’s also a commentary by the late Peter Yates who died back in 2011 and is the best extra on the blu ray.
For 104 minutes Summer Holiday is an enjoyably nostalgic romp that whisks you away to a bygone era
Here’s the Summer Holiday trailer…….
SUMMER HOLIDAY IS RELEASED ON BLU RAY & DVD ON 26TH AUGUST 2019