Clive Donner (director)
Network on Air (studio)
06 April 2020 (released)
17 April 2020
This quaint musical drama is set in the early 60s but its moral values could well be from the 1940s! Three music-loving and leather-clad biker boys make the most of the picturesque Bristol surroundings (that’s where the story is set) when, during an outing on their bikes, cause an accident of sorts… resulting in the local Magistrate putting a temporary end to any future rides. Things are not as bad as they seem when a youth worker cum choirmaster allows the lads to practice a bit of rock n roll in the church hall, provided they sign up to the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme.
‘The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme’ – ah yes. It was a well-meaning scheme heavily promoted throughout the 60s and 70s and had one aim in mind: to help Britain’s youth (especially those who had lost their way) by improving physical fitness, employability and other activities which nowadays might be deemed almost patronizing. But back to the accident underneath Clifton Suspension Bridge, which happens pretty much at the beginning of the film and involves three friends who all share a love for motorbikes and rock n roll music. They are Johnnie (Ray Brooks), Bill (David Andrews) and Bert (David Hemmings). Also with them is another friend, Terry, (Angela Douglas). Luckily no one gets hurt after the near-collision on the bridge except bruised egos and minimally damaged bikes. Nonetheless, following the incident Johnny, Bert and Bill find themselves listening to the local Magistrate (Cyril Luckham) who compares their irresponsible behaviour to juvenile delinquency and not only fines them £40 each but the lads are now suspended from riding their beloved bikes for an entire year! Suffice to say this doesn’t go down too well with the lads, nor with their parents – in particular Johnnie’s father (Harry H. Corbett) who seems more interested in reading the papers than taking interest in anything that’s going on in his son’s world. Soon, the three friends are strolling about Bristol in search for some excitement but only find boredom while Terry continues with her dead-end job in a cigarette factory. Indeed, everyone in this film seems to smoke though for the time being they still seem to favour coffee and coca cola over booze.
Soon they are in trouble again when they enter a Youth Club and Ray starts playing the piano for a bit of fun… only to be kicked out by the caretaker for looking like, well, juvenile delinquents and having had the effrontery to lift the piano cover. Disgruntled, they stroll on when, upon spotting a church, calmly walk in and before you can say ‘Hallelujah’ Johnnie takes to the church organ and begins to play, with Bert and Bill dancing in the aisle dressed as choirboys. Is this how proper juvenile delinquents behave? Hardly! No sooner are they having fun when the vicar (Michael Gwynn), alarmed by the noise, bursts in and gives the lads a good talking to. Luckily, voluntary choirmaster/youth worker Mr. Smith (Kenneth Moore) walks onto the scene and – him being of the understanding kind - strikes a deal of sorts with the boys. Yep you guessed it – in exchange for practising music in the church hall they have to sign up to the aforementioned scheme. Initially all seems to go fairly smoothly – the three friends even get their own drummer, an enthusiastic black boy called Jimmy (Frankie Dymon Jr.) while additional help comes from nerdy looking Tim (Timothy Nightingale) who plays his trippy DIY organ. It’s not before long that Terry decides they could do with a female vocalist… and who do you think fits the job? Another girl also comes onto the scene – Anne (Anneke Wills) who happens to be Mr. Smith’s daughter. Soon, she and Johnnie are romantically involved, she even shrinks her new blue jeans in the bathtub to look more cool. While rehearsals seem to progress (although the tunes the band churns out are harmless at best, with silly Shadows-style footwork) internal frictions soon emerge: Bill feels that the band, in particular Johnnie and Bert, are in danger of losing their ‘rebel’ identity thanks to observing the rules of the ‘soppy’ Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme. He also seems to have set his eyes on Anne (while Terry has her eyes on Johnnie), succeeding in making her believe that she’s wasting time with her lover boy. When Anne reveals to Johnnie that she wishes to focus on going to college rather than deepening their relationship the atmosphere is rife for a showdown between Bill and the rest of the gang…
The film’s ending seems abrupt and without any real conclusion which is a shame as we want to know whether Johnnie’s band succeeds in playing their first proper gig.
Young David Hemmings was of course a child opera star working with Benjamin Britten – yes, really! He’s also recorded an album with legendary American rock band The Byrds. Ray Brooks was no stranger when it came to playing the guitar while Angela Douglas (who married Kenneth Moore six years after this film) merely lip-synched. The real vocals were provided by Bristol-singer Valerie Mountain (sounding like a dead ringer for Helen Shapiro).
Screenwriter Joe Eldridge (who also co-wrote the scripts for the British thriller Pool Of London and the Peter Sellers comedy The Smallest Show On Earth) draws the viewer into the Bristol of yesteryear, fascinatingly captured by cinematographer John Wilcox. By the way, the film’s title refers to a song performed by Angela Douglas/Valerie Mountain during the film.
SOME PEOPLE has just been released on Blu-ray by Network-on-Air.