SUMMER HOLIDAY (1963) / CERT: U / DIRECTOR: PETER YATES / SCREENPLAY: PETER MYERS, RONALD CASS / STARRING: CLIFF RICHARD, LAURI PETERS, MELVYN HAYES / RELEASE DATE: 26TH AUGUST
Summer Holiday stars elderly-ladies-favourite Cliff Richard (AKA the Peter Pan of Pop / the English Elvis) as Don, a London bus mechanic who, along with his workmates, converts a double decker into a hotel on wheels, intending to drive it across France during their summer break. As you can imagine, things don't quite go to plan, as they find themselves in some mildly amusing predicaments involving a very tame car crash, a three-piece girl group, a mime artiste, and a twenty-something female stowaway masquerading as a fourteen year old boy...
Being a musical, characters have a habit of breaking into song and / or dance every few minutes, so there's a whole lot of shaking going on, along with plenty of kicking, shimmying and gyrating. It's all very wholesome Sunday afternoon type stuff, and it's exactly the sort of thing you'd expect to see Cliff taking part in. Summer Holiday was filmed during one of his more likeable / less po-faced phases, and the rest of the cast are equally affable. You feel like you'd be quite happy to accompany them on their journey, which makes the 104 minutes fly by in no time at all.
This brand new restoration looks as good as an almost 50 year old film could do, apart from a couple of split second blurry spots that suddenly click back into HD. Music is often much louder than the dialogue, so you might want to keep your finger somewhere near the volume button.
There's a fair bit to see over in the extras menu. One brief clip from British Pathe's archives shows Cliff at bus driving school (where we're told he “was soon at home on the skid pan”), and another features footage from Summer Holiday's chaotic London premiere. Police link arms to hold back throngs of screaming fans, someone's shoe falls off, a hysterical woman is wheeled into an ambulance, and we're shown a lady lying on the floor before the plummy voiceover tells us “don't be alarmed, she's only fainted.” It's a shame that the clip is less than two minutes long – we could definitely have taken much more of this.
There's also a nine-minute interview with music author Bob Stanley, a stills gallery, and a set of four postcards. Of particular interest is the inclusion of Rhythm 'N' Greens, a rare half-hour short starring The Shadows which has previously only been released by the band's fan club back in the 60s. Its bizarre premise tells the history of mankind via a radio show that plays out over Monkees-style sketches, and is well worth a look. The glee on Hank Marvin's face as he twangs away at a rubber skeleton's rib cage while dressed as a caveman is an absolute joy to witness!