Summer Holiday [1948]

Director: Rouben Mamoulian
Stars: Mickey Rooney, Gloria DeHaven, Walter Huston, Frank Morgan, Butch Jenkins
Genre: Musical
Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Runtime: 92 minutes

The three nostalgic British musicals in the Cliff Richard Collection are a good reminder that, thanks to a few short years in the 1960s, Sir Cliff can legitimately include "film star" on his already exceptional show business résumé. The Young Ones (1961), Summer Holiday (1963), and Wonderful Life (1964) would make tame fare for a teen audience today, but they retain a polished and honest charm that might surprise the sharpest of cynics. First and foremost, of course, they were Cliff Richard vehicles: designed to showcase his all-around talents and capitalize on his first, heady wave of pop chart success. They are also unashamed homages to the heyday of the MGM B-musical with familiar themes: let's put on a show/save the youth club/make a film. But with up-and-coming directors Sidney Furie and Peter Yates making imaginative and sophisticated use of wide-angle camerawork and fresh, snappy choreography by Herbert Ross and Gillian Lynne, they also have plenty of assets other than Richard's wholesome appeal. There are some fine set pieces and surreal flashes, notably the history of cinema in Wonderful Life and the extraordinary mime sequence in Summer Holiday. They also tap into the very British energy of a group of young actors and dancers including Una Stubbs, Susan Hampshire, Melvyn Hayes, and Richard O'Sullivan, as well as Richard's band at the time, the Shadows. For sheer verve, the films deserve to be seen on their own merits. --Piers Ford

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