Reel Ale Film Club: The Young Ones

Last week Reel Ale Film Club visited Wood Green and Lambeth in the 1950s. This week we go on a 1960s summer holiday with Cliff Richard in The Young Ones (1961). Firstly, there is a potential confusion to dodge. For most of us ‘The Young Ones’ conjures memories of the fantastic 1980s sitcom starring Rik Mayell, which in fact took its name from Cliff’s 1961 film. To add to the muddle, in 1986 Cliff released a comic relief single with the cast of The Young Ones. Consequently a google search for this week’s film results in altogether different pleasures. I’ve saved you the trouble of searching and included ‘Living Doll’ below; it’s just too terrible and brilliant not to.

Digressions aside, this week’s Reel Ale Film Club continues the theme of youth culture with a colourful, musical extravaganza, which tells the story of a London youth club threatened with closure. Determined to save their good clean fun, Cliff Richard and his chums resolve to put on a show in order raise money and convince the owner to keep the club open. The film features tracks such as Cliff’s earlier number 1 hit version of ‘Living Doll’ and ‘The Young Ones.’

Cliff moved seamlessly into acting following his short-lived career as a rock and roll sex symbol, intending to emulate and rival Elvis. His first screen appearance was an almost exclusively singing role in Serious Charge (1959), followed by the part of a teenage singer in Expresso Bongo (1960). Both films feature Cliff in the Soho cafe/bars which pioneered British rock and roll and in which Cliff played at the start of his career. These spaces allowed emerging youth culture to bloom and developed a thriving music scene, fostering a new generation of musicians. As K J Donnelly notes in his article on Cliff Richard and British music culture, “by [the] late 1950s and early 1960s, this culture, as well as national consciousness, of rock ‘n’ roll coffee bars had been translated into a metonymic icon in British films. Monthly Film Bulletin’s review of She Knows Y’Know (1961) noted that the film has “‘a pop singer and a coffee bar thrown in to prove that film’s makers are bang up to date.’”

Expresso Bongo (1960) soundtrack

The Young Ones and Summer Holiday (1962) brought Cliff more singing roles, but he had shed his rock and roll delinquency image by this point and had become the shining role model that parents wanted for their teenagers. Cliff’s youthful crooning was a great success and both films did phenomenally well at the box office. Cliff’s heights were not to last though as he, like just about all musicians at the time, suffered from the effects of Beatlemania. Three years after The Young Ones the Beatles also entered the world of film with A Hard Day’s Night (1964), also showing at Reel Ale Film Club on the 13th June.

 The Young Ones is showing at Reel Ale Film Club at The Railway Tavern Ale House on 30th May at 8pm.

London on Film – 25th April – 19th September:

25/4 – Silent London – Piccadilly (E.A. Dupont, 1929)
2/5 – Wartime London: Part 1 – Waterloo Bridge (Mervyn LeRoy, 1940)
9/5 – Wartime London: Part 2 – I Was a Fireman (Humphrey Jennings, 1943) + London Can Take It (Humphrey Jennings, 1940)
16/5 – Larceny in London: Part 1 – The Ladykillers (Alexander McKendrick, 1955)
23/5 – British New Wave – We Are The Lambeth Boys (Karel Reisz, 1959) + Momma Don’t Allow (Karel Reisz and Tony Richardson, 1956)
30/5 – ‘Its’s Wonderful to be Young’ – The Young Ones (Sidney J. Furie, 1961)
6/6 – Queer London: Part 1 – Victim (Basil Dearden, 1961)
13/6 – British Bands: Part 1 – A Hard Day’s Night (Richard Lester, 1965)
20/6 – Art House – Blow Up (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1966)
27/6 – Terror on the Tube – Quartermass and The Pit (Roy Ward Baker, 1967)
4/7 – Hitchcock’s London – Frenzy (Alfred Hitchcock, 1972)
11/7 – DINOSAURS in London – One of Our Dinosaurs is Missing (Robert Stevenson, 1975)
18/7 – Gangster’s Paradise: Part 1 – The Long Good Friday (John Mackenzie, 1980)
25/7 – Horror – An American Werewolf in London (John Landis, 1981)
1/8 – Queer London: Part 2 – Prick Up Your Ears (Stephen Frears, 1987)
8/8 – Larceny in London: Part 2 – A Fish Called Wanda (Charles Crichton & John Cleese, 1988)
15/8 – Romantic Comedy – The Tall Guy (Mel Smith & Richard Curtis, 1989)
22/8 – Gangster’s Paradise: Part 2 – The Krays (Peter Medak, 1990)
29/8 – London Soul – Young Soul Rebels (Issac Julien, 1991)
5/9 – British Bands: Part 2 – SpiceWorld (Bob Spiers, 1997)
12/9 – Big Guns in the Big Smoke – Harry Brown (Daniel Barber, 2009)
19/9– Docu-dreams – Dreams of a Life (Carol Morley, 2012)

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