Going by the name alone, one might assume that this was going to be some sort of bawdy drug-fuelled 1970's sex comedy. We're in the right era, at least, but everything else is much less titillating than we might have hoped. Starring Cliff Richard in his final film role before abandoning the silver screen, 1973's Take Me High is an inoffensive Sunday afternoon film that serves as part romantic “comedy” and part... travelogue.
Our Cliff plays Tim Matthews, a slightly self-centred banker who has all the money he could ever need or want. After falling out with his girlfriend over a potential promotion and move to New York, he receives word that he won't be moving abroad after all. His boss is sending him to the much less glamorous city of Birmingham in the West Midlands, where he meets a new lady (played by Deborah Watling, previously known as Victoria Waterfield, Peter Troughton's Doctor Who companion) and sets about making a new life for himself.
Apart from being given away as a newspaper freebie almost 20 years ago, Take Me High has never been available on DVD or Blu-ray before, and honestly it's pretty easy to see why. Its only real draw is its star, but even then we're not exactly talking primetime Cliff. Known as the English Elvis Presley in his younger rock n' roll days, by the time the early 70s rolled around he'd found Jesus, gone all middle of the road, and hadn't yet started churning out those late 70s / early 80s bangers that we're all so very fond of. This is reflected in the film's soundtrack, which provides the backing for many of Cliff / Tim's thoughts and often plays over montages of him walking through the streets of Birmingham. It does contain a couple of undeniable toe-tappers, but largely consists of hospital radio-friendly muzak for the mums and grans.
The Blu-ray includes options to watch the regular film, only music with vocals, or music only with no vocals. There's also a trailer and image gallery, and an incredibly dry and humourless 20 minute interview from 70s ITV chat show Russell Harty Plus, where Cliff voices some rather bold and po-faced opinions about religion and his fellow musicians. It's all a bit "moral guardian of the masses", and probably shouldn't be watched before the film because the only takeaway from the interview itself is that Cliff seems a bit of a berk. The best part comes when he mentions chatting to "blokes in sauna baths", which is immediately followed by a look that says "ooh no, definitely shouldn't have said that". The appearance ends with a performance of the film's main theme, where Cliff appears to be desperate for a wee while he marches on the spot, and does that slow turnaround move that he still does in concerts today (probably counts as a high spot for him, these days).
All things considered it's a bit of a baffling release, and one that it's difficult to imagine too many people going crazy for. Might be worth picking up for grandma for Christmas though.
TAKE ME HIGH / CERT: U / DIRECTOR: DAVID ASKEY / SCREENPLAY: CHRISTOPHER PENFOLD / STARRING: CLIFF RICHARD, DEBORAH WATLING, HUGH GRIFFITH, GEORGE COLE / RELEASE DATE: 18TH MARCH