The Young Ones

Original soundtrack remaster released by EMI in August 2005. Liner notes and memorabilia research (with Peter Lewry).

The Young Ones

For Cliff Richard, the rise from television to cinema screen was almost as meteoric as his rise from obscurity to fame as the pioneer of British rock ‘n’ roll. As Hollywood had done with Elvis Presley, British film makers sensed that Cliff would be a box office sensation given the right vehicles. In fact, it was a British Elvis that Micky Delamar was looking to cast in Serious Charge, and probably the same could be said of Val Guest, who cast Cliff’s second film Expresso Bongo. Both characters could be loosely identified with the roles that Elvis played in his second and third movies. Curley Thompson, like Elvis’s Vince Everett in Jailhouse Rock, was a juvenile rebel, and Bongo Herbert resembled Elvis’s Deke Rivers in Loving You, who was a manipulated teenage idol.

During the sixties, Elvis made ‘beach movies’, and Cliff went from supporting roles to debut as a leading man in the first of a trilogy of films that would become known as ‘the Cliff Richard musicals’. The idea had been developed by film producer Kenneth Harper who had seen Cliff live on stage during one of his gruelling one-nighter tours that for the most part were staged at cinemas with at least two shows a night. What Harper discovered was that Cliff was filling cinemas on a Sunday night when films left them empty; consequently, he knew that Cliff was the person to make a film with. The initial problem, however, was finding a story to turn into a musical. The most obvious would have been to do The Cliff Richard Story, but that was abandoned in favour of an original musical, and The Young Ones set the pattern for the next few films. Elvis continued his beach movie formula and Cliff, his youth orientated fun films – Summer Holiday, Wonderful Life and Finder’s Keepers all fell into the archetypal ‘Cliff Richard musical’ category. The latter was not quite as successful as its predecessors, but Wonderful Life did well even though it had strong competition from the Beatles’ first film A Hard Day’s Night which had been released in the same month.

By the late sixties, the pop movie had become less popular. It was being replaced by documentary films like the Beatles Let It Be, Woodstock and then, in the early seventies, Elvis On Tour. Cliff made a couple more films during this period. Two A Penny was probably the only film in which Cliff truly aspired to become a serious actor, while Take Me High returned to the musical category, although most of the songs were heard on the soundtrack rather than being performed on screen. Cliff only made seven films for major cinema release, four of which are represented in this new soundtrack remaster series. And although Elvis made thirty-three movies and the Beatles even fewer, we must remember that every one of Cliff’s was commercially successful and they still are enjoyed to this day by people of all ages via cable, satellite and DVD.

It is why EMI Records, as part of their commitment to restore the Cliff Richard catalogue with newly upgraded, remastered and expanded original albums, are pleased to release four of the original film soundtracks, plus bonus songs, via this new ‘Soundtrack Collection’ series.

STORYBOARD

Nicky (Cliff) is the leader of a Youth Club which makes its headquarters in a ramshackle hut in a shabby London neighbourhood. Here, Nicky, his girl-friend Toni (Carole Gray) and other youngsters can escape from the narrow and disapproving adult world in their games and let off steam through their rock ‘n’ roll music.

Hamilton Black (Robert Morley), a millionaire property owner, plans to buy up the land on which the club stands to build a modern office block. Unknown to the other club members, Black is in fact Nicky’s father, a fact of which Nicky is not particularly proud.

The youngsters discover that there is an escape clause in the lease of the property and they tackle Black about it. He tells then they can have the land – if they can find five years’ rent in advance, a matter of fifteen hundred pounds. At the same time he discovers that his son is a member of the club and while he admires Nicky for putting up a fight, tells him he cannot win.

But Nicky and his gang have other ideas. They rent a dilapidated theatre, renovate and decorate it in order to put on a fund-raising show. With an old radio transmitter they broadcast the date of their show over the national television network!

When Hamilton Black hears of their plans he attempts to buy the theatre before the show gets under way. The gang plan to waylay him in order to prevent this eleventh-hour move. Nicky is appalled and tries to stop them, but the boys and girls of the club have discovered Nicky’s secret and stand guard over him until the time comes for him to go on stage. Nicky escapes, however, finds his father, releases him, and together they hurry back to the theatre just in time to hear the audience beginning to demand its money back.

Nicky immediately goes onto the stage and begins to sing, his singing talent captures the noisy audience and he finishes to tremendous applause. He leaves the stage to find his delighted father offering to build them a big new club! The gang accept the offer and Nicky returns to the clamouring audience for a grand finale.

OFF-CAMERA

The Young Ones, renamed It’s Wonderful To Be Young in America, was the film that introduced Cliff to cinema audiences as the clean-cut leading man in the first of his technicolour vehicles. The Young Ones took its template from the classic MGM musicals, but reinforced the musical score with half a dozen pop songs to connect with the teenage audience. The idea of having a group of young people getting together to save their youth club from being torn down by a rich property developer came from Rodgers and Hart’s musical Babes In Arms which starred Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland as the teenage children of retired vaudevillians who put on a show to raise money. The film shot to number two, just behind The Guns of Navarone, at the box office and made Cliff the most popular movie star of 1962. Made on a moderate budget of £230,000, the critics couldn’t stop praising the film, calling it the best musical Britain had ever made and the first screen entertainment produced for a long time anywhere in the world. The Young Ones soundtrack album topped the charts for six weeks, and became the only British film, due to its title change, to have new footage shot for both the movie and trailer when released in the US…