Having a Wild Weekend (1965)

Genres - Comedy, Musical  |   Sub-Genres - Rock Musical  |   Run Time - 91 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Bruce Eder

Catch Us If You Can (better known in the USA as Having A Wild Weekend) is a better film than it seemingly has a right to be. Produced by Nat Cohen under the aegis of Anglo-Amalgamated Pictures, it was intended to exploit the fame of the Dave Clark Five who, at that time, were the second biggest selling British rock 'n' roll act after the Beatles, who had enjoyed such an unexpected hit with Richard Lester's A Hard Day's Night the previous year. And for all that the intended audience could have cared, Dave Clark and company could have just stood their miming their songs for an hour and it would have made a fortune. But screenwriter Peter Nichols (whose other credits include Georgy Girl and A Day In The Death of Joe Egg) delivered a much more serious script than anything than Lester or the Beatles ever thought of working with, and director John Boorman rose to the occasion. Catch Us If You Can does have some of the happy-go-lucky scenes one would expect of a juke-box movie of this era, and captures the mood of Swinging London before it became a tourist attraction (and could still be captured adequately and acceptably in black-and-white, courtesy of cinematographer Manny Wynne, whose other credits include The Luck Of Ginger Coffey and Smashing Time); but it also has a dark, serious edge amid its satire of the advertising and media industries, and the romantic flight of the two mismatched lovers (Dave Clark, Barbara Ferris); and a sinister side to several of the supporting characters, which left audiences at the time wondering precisely what it was that they'd seen. The ominous presence of water images, especially, anticipates some of Boorman's better-known later work (in Deliverance, particularly), whilst the bleak landscapes that Clark and Ferris's characters cross calls to mind the contemporary work of transplanted American stlyist Joseph Losey. The movie was probably too serious for most Dave Clark Five fans, assuming they even noticed the plot or images (and several of the songs -- especially the title track -- were excellent) amid the sight gags and frantic pacing of Gordon Pilkington's editing. But it's because of those very same dark tones that the movie retains its fascination 40+ years later, an attribute shared by precious few films in this genre.