I Wanna Hold Your Hand


1h 44m 1978

Brief Synopsis

If they missed Beatles' first appearance in the U.S.A. they would hate themselves for the rest of their lives! So they (six young girls from New Jersey) set off even though they don't have tickets for the show! The journey is full of surprises and misfortunes but the young ladies are determined to reach to their idols...

Film Details

Also Known As
Beatles 4-Ever
MPAA Rating
Release Date
1978

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 44m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)

Synopsis

It's 1964, and the new pop music phenomenon, The Beatles, have arrived in New York City to make their first live American television appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. Three girls who are already suffering from Beatlemania do everything they can think of to sneak into the hotel rooms of the Fab Four to meet their new idols.

Film Details

Also Known As
Beatles 4-Ever
MPAA Rating
Release Date
1978

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 44m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)

Articles

Wendie Jo Sperber (1958-2005)


Wendie Jo Sperber, the zany comic actress who had appeared on several movies and sitcoms since the late '70s, died on November 29 of breast cancer at her Sherman Oaks home. She was 47.

Born on September 18, 1958 in Hollywood, California, Sperber made an impression from the beginning when, at just 19 years of age, she was cast as Rosie Petrofsky, the hyperactive, dreamy-eyed Beatle fan who will stop at nothing to see them on their Ed Sullivan debut in the charming Robert Zemeckis' period comedy I Wanna Hold Your Hand (1978). The film was a surprise smash in the Spring of '78, and she proved that her comic chops were no fluke when Stephen Spielberg cast her as a lovestruck teenager in his overblown spectacle 1941 (1979); and as a naive car buyer in Zemeckis' funny Kurt Russell outing Used Cars (1980).

As hilarious as she was in those films, Sperber earned her pop culture stripes when she played Amy Cassidy in the cult comedy series Bosom Buddies (1980-82). This strange sitcom, about two pals (Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari), who dressed in drag so they could live in an all-girls residential hotel might have had a flimsy premise - but the actors played it to the hilt. Hanks and Scolari were fine, but Sperber stole the series with her incredible physical display of pratfalls, comic sprints, splits and facial mugging. Indeed, here was one comedic performer who was not afraid to go all out for a laugh. Even after the cancellation of the show, Sperber continued to work in comedies throughout the decade: Bachelor Party (1984), Moving Violations, and in Back to the Future (both 1985).

Tragically, Sperber's career was halted in 1997 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. After a brief remission, she played a cancer survivor in a final season episode of Murphy Brown (1997-98). The warm reception she received from her appearance influenced her decision to become an active campaigner for cancer awareness and fundraising. The culmination of her humanitarian efforts resulted in 2001, when she founded weSPARK Cancer Support Center in Sherman Oaks, a nonprofit center that provides free emotional support, research information and social activities for cancer victims and their families. Despite her altruistic causes, Sperber still found time in recent years to make guest appearances on such hit television shows like Will & Grace and 8 Simple Rules...for Dating My Teenage Daughter. She is survived by a son, Preston; a daughter, Pearl; parents, Charlene and Burt; sisters, Ellice and Michelle; and a brother, Richard.

by Michael T. Toole
Wendie Jo Sperber (1958-2005)

Wendie Jo Sperber (1958-2005)

Wendie Jo Sperber, the zany comic actress who had appeared on several movies and sitcoms since the late '70s, died on November 29 of breast cancer at her Sherman Oaks home. She was 47. Born on September 18, 1958 in Hollywood, California, Sperber made an impression from the beginning when, at just 19 years of age, she was cast as Rosie Petrofsky, the hyperactive, dreamy-eyed Beatle fan who will stop at nothing to see them on their Ed Sullivan debut in the charming Robert Zemeckis' period comedy I Wanna Hold Your Hand (1978). The film was a surprise smash in the Spring of '78, and she proved that her comic chops were no fluke when Stephen Spielberg cast her as a lovestruck teenager in his overblown spectacle 1941 (1979); and as a naive car buyer in Zemeckis' funny Kurt Russell outing Used Cars (1980). As hilarious as she was in those films, Sperber earned her pop culture stripes when she played Amy Cassidy in the cult comedy series Bosom Buddies (1980-82). This strange sitcom, about two pals (Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari), who dressed in drag so they could live in an all-girls residential hotel might have had a flimsy premise - but the actors played it to the hilt. Hanks and Scolari were fine, but Sperber stole the series with her incredible physical display of pratfalls, comic sprints, splits and facial mugging. Indeed, here was one comedic performer who was not afraid to go all out for a laugh. Even after the cancellation of the show, Sperber continued to work in comedies throughout the decade: Bachelor Party (1984), Moving Violations, and in Back to the Future (both 1985). Tragically, Sperber's career was halted in 1997 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. After a brief remission, she played a cancer survivor in a final season episode of Murphy Brown (1997-98). The warm reception she received from her appearance influenced her decision to become an active campaigner for cancer awareness and fundraising. The culmination of her humanitarian efforts resulted in 2001, when she founded weSPARK Cancer Support Center in Sherman Oaks, a nonprofit center that provides free emotional support, research information and social activities for cancer victims and their families. Despite her altruistic causes, Sperber still found time in recent years to make guest appearances on such hit television shows like Will & Grace and 8 Simple Rules...for Dating My Teenage Daughter. She is survived by a son, Preston; a daughter, Pearl; parents, Charlene and Burt; sisters, Ellice and Michelle; and a brother, Richard. by Michael T. Toole

I Wanna Hold Your Hand on DVD


If you make a movie about Beatlemania, you'd better make it manic. Robert Zemeckis did just that in I Wanna Hold Your Hand. Zemeckis may be the director of such "important" movies as Contact, Cast Away and The Polar Express over the last decade, but these serious, big-budget releases can't compare with the high-energy comedies he made at the start of his career.

Like Used Cars just after it, also made with writing partner Bob Gale, Zemeckis's 1978 directorial debut is a raucous, very physical ensemble comedy of desperation. What's the desperation in Zemeckis's comedy, now on DVD from Universal Home Video? It's the frantic attempt by the movie's New Jersey teens to get in to see The Beatles's first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. Set over the 30 hours leading up to that pop culture milestone, I Wanna Hold Your Hand is an amusing collision of heightened reality and slapstick gags.

Nearly all the characters are obsessed with the Beatles in one way or the other. Among them are Grace (Theresa Saldana), the aspiring photojournalist who sees them as her ticket to a career; Rosie (Wendie Jo Sperber), whose zealous efforts to win radio station ticket giveaways provide some of the funniest moments; Janis (Susan Kendall Newman, daughter of Paul), who thinks the Beatles are a plot to keep kids from listening to folk music, and wants to protest against them; and Tony (Bobby DiCicco), who, although he surely wouldn't put it this way himself, feels threatened by the Beatles's unconventional masculinity. Zemeckis and Gale's script sends its Jersey kids on several assaults on The Beatles's hotel and The Ed Sullivan Theater, alone and in groups, and they're almost always amusing journeys - including having the one girl indifferent to The Beatles, played by Nancy Allen, be the one who somehow gets into their hotel suite.

But the sheer highlight of I Wanna Hold Your Hand is the teaming of Sperber and gangly Eddie Deezen, who plays a know-it-all Beatles fanatic with whom she immediately bonds, and with whom she perpetually fights. Each performer's commitment to his or her character is amazing, with neither reluctant to look silly or take a fall at the other's hand. Much of the time these two are eluding the hotel security chief played with typical color by ace character actor Dick Miller. Miller and Deezen supply the movie's most memorable stand-off, when the security guard barges into a hotel room and announces "Now I got you, you little sh-thead," to which the gangly Beatles nut instantly retorts, "Who you calling little?"

Such moments give I Wanna Hold Your Hand a vaudeville spirit, combined with the sort of 1970s B-movie lack of pretension that was the hallmark of Roger Corman low-budget comedies like Hollywood Boulevard or Death Race 2000. Many of the best studio comedies of the time, including Animal House and Airplane!, picked up on that same sensibility, as did Steven Spielberg's flawed 1941, the Zemeckis-Gale-written absurdist comedy reuniting about half of the primary players in I Wanna Hold Your Hand, which Spielberg executive produced. At the same time, there's a more serious, American Graffiti sort of undercurrent to the comedy, with the Beatles weekend bringing turning points in many characters' vision of their life ahead.

The Zemeckis and Gale audio commentary on the DVD goes into many interesting details about the movie's production. For instance, it was all shot in Los Angeles, not New York (you may recognize one alley the movie shares as a location with Chinatown). Much of the commentary also touches on the legal wrangling affecting the movie's content. Universal first wouldn't allow Zemeckis to show the Beatles in any way, for fear of a lawsuit. A version of the Sullivan climax was even filmed with only reaction shots of the fictional characters, before Universal changed its mind, while Zemeckis and Gale's subsequent ploy of showing The Beatles's performance through control-room monitors and camera viewfinders became their homage to A Hard Day's Night. Fear of lawsuit also scrapped the working title Beatles 4-Ever and, while it's never mentioned in the commentary, is presumably why the title became I Wanna Hold Your Hand and not I Want to Hold Your Hand, the Beatles song's real title. Any actors seen representing The Beatles do so either in physical fragments (a leg here, the back of a head here) or at a great distance (in the Sullivan Theater), causing Gale to label I Wanna Hold Your Hand "a cross between American Graffiti and Ben-Hur," the latter because in that you only see Jesus from behind.

For more information about I Wanna Hold Your Hand, visit Universal Home Video. To order I Wanna Hold Your Hand, go to TCM Shopping.

by Paul Sherman

I Wanna Hold Your Hand on DVD

If you make a movie about Beatlemania, you'd better make it manic. Robert Zemeckis did just that in I Wanna Hold Your Hand. Zemeckis may be the director of such "important" movies as Contact, Cast Away and The Polar Express over the last decade, but these serious, big-budget releases can't compare with the high-energy comedies he made at the start of his career. Like Used Cars just after it, also made with writing partner Bob Gale, Zemeckis's 1978 directorial debut is a raucous, very physical ensemble comedy of desperation. What's the desperation in Zemeckis's comedy, now on DVD from Universal Home Video? It's the frantic attempt by the movie's New Jersey teens to get in to see The Beatles's first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. Set over the 30 hours leading up to that pop culture milestone, I Wanna Hold Your Hand is an amusing collision of heightened reality and slapstick gags. Nearly all the characters are obsessed with the Beatles in one way or the other. Among them are Grace (Theresa Saldana), the aspiring photojournalist who sees them as her ticket to a career; Rosie (Wendie Jo Sperber), whose zealous efforts to win radio station ticket giveaways provide some of the funniest moments; Janis (Susan Kendall Newman, daughter of Paul), who thinks the Beatles are a plot to keep kids from listening to folk music, and wants to protest against them; and Tony (Bobby DiCicco), who, although he surely wouldn't put it this way himself, feels threatened by the Beatles's unconventional masculinity. Zemeckis and Gale's script sends its Jersey kids on several assaults on The Beatles's hotel and The Ed Sullivan Theater, alone and in groups, and they're almost always amusing journeys - including having the one girl indifferent to The Beatles, played by Nancy Allen, be the one who somehow gets into their hotel suite. But the sheer highlight of I Wanna Hold Your Hand is the teaming of Sperber and gangly Eddie Deezen, who plays a know-it-all Beatles fanatic with whom she immediately bonds, and with whom she perpetually fights. Each performer's commitment to his or her character is amazing, with neither reluctant to look silly or take a fall at the other's hand. Much of the time these two are eluding the hotel security chief played with typical color by ace character actor Dick Miller. Miller and Deezen supply the movie's most memorable stand-off, when the security guard barges into a hotel room and announces "Now I got you, you little sh-thead," to which the gangly Beatles nut instantly retorts, "Who you calling little?" Such moments give I Wanna Hold Your Hand a vaudeville spirit, combined with the sort of 1970s B-movie lack of pretension that was the hallmark of Roger Corman low-budget comedies like Hollywood Boulevard or Death Race 2000. Many of the best studio comedies of the time, including Animal House and Airplane!, picked up on that same sensibility, as did Steven Spielberg's flawed 1941, the Zemeckis-Gale-written absurdist comedy reuniting about half of the primary players in I Wanna Hold Your Hand, which Spielberg executive produced. At the same time, there's a more serious, American Graffiti sort of undercurrent to the comedy, with the Beatles weekend bringing turning points in many characters' vision of their life ahead. The Zemeckis and Gale audio commentary on the DVD goes into many interesting details about the movie's production. For instance, it was all shot in Los Angeles, not New York (you may recognize one alley the movie shares as a location with Chinatown). Much of the commentary also touches on the legal wrangling affecting the movie's content. Universal first wouldn't allow Zemeckis to show the Beatles in any way, for fear of a lawsuit. A version of the Sullivan climax was even filmed with only reaction shots of the fictional characters, before Universal changed its mind, while Zemeckis and Gale's subsequent ploy of showing The Beatles's performance through control-room monitors and camera viewfinders became their homage to A Hard Day's Night. Fear of lawsuit also scrapped the working title Beatles 4-Ever and, while it's never mentioned in the commentary, is presumably why the title became I Wanna Hold Your Hand and not I Want to Hold Your Hand, the Beatles song's real title. Any actors seen representing The Beatles do so either in physical fragments (a leg here, the back of a head here) or at a great distance (in the Sullivan Theater), causing Gale to label I Wanna Hold Your Hand "a cross between American Graffiti and Ben-Hur," the latter because in that you only see Jesus from behind. For more information about I Wanna Hold Your Hand, visit Universal Home Video. To order I Wanna Hold Your Hand, go to TCM Shopping. by Paul Sherman

Quotes

Trivia

Will Jordan, as Ed Sullivan, announces next week's acts after the Beatles finish their segment. One of these acts is "Will Jordan".

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Spring April 21, 1978

Released in United States May 1978

Released in United States on Video March 8, 1989

Released in United States Spring April 21, 1978

Released in United States May 1978

Released in United States on Video March 8, 1989