Cast & Crew
Don, Cyril, Edwin, and Steve, four young London mechanics who hope to operate a vacation travel service by bus in Europe, make a trial run in a borrowed double-decker bus that is outfitted with living facilities. Outside Paris they crash into an old car carrying Sandy, Angie, and Mimsie, three young English singers on their way to Athens. Because their automobile is demolished, the boys take the girls along with them in the bus. Later, they add another boy to their number, but the boy is really a young American girl singer, Barbara, who ran away from her ambitious mother, Stella, and her agent, Jerry, when they reneged on their promise to give her a vacation. The others agree to help Barbara, but Stella and Jerry learn her whereabouts and decide to use the situation for publicity purposes. They cause the youngsters on the bus to be subjected to a variety of difficulties newsworthy enough to make headlines. After traveling through France, Switzerland, Austria, and Yugoslavia, the bus finally arrives in Athens, and there Stella calls a press interview and accuses Don, the boys' leader, of abducting her daughter, whereupon Don and Barbara announce their engagement. A London bus company announces that the boys will receive 200 buses for their travel service, and the mother, realizing that her publicity scheme is running wild, gives the young couple her blessing.
Samuel Z. Arkoff
Hank B. Marvin
James H. Nicholson
Summer Holiday (1963)
In the wake of Elvis Presley's popularity, a wave of singers with descriptive surnames flooded the English music scene, often appearing on television pop-music variety shows or starring in their own movie vehicles. Among the monikers Tommy Steele, Billy Fury, Adam Faith, Johnny Gentle, and Vince Eager, the name "Cliff Richard" stood out precisely because it sounded so natural, though the singer was born Harry Webb. During the late 1950s and early 1960s, Richard and his band The Shadows experienced their share of hit records and regularly appeared on the English variety program Oh Boy, increasing their popularity and importance to the burgeoning youth culture. Tommy Steele was probably the first performer to give Presley a run for his money in England, and his success story was given a fictionalized treatment in the 1959 film Expresso Bongo. However, it was Cliff Richard who played the Steele character, Bongo Herbert, in the film. Laurence Harvey won good notices for his role as a ruthless talent agent looking for the next popular sensation, but Richard's secondary role as Harvey's teen discovery boosted the pop singer's movie career. He quickly landed the starring role in The Young Ones (1961), a film patterned after the Hollywood teen musical and aimed squarely at the youth market. It became the highest grossing film of 1961.
Summer Holiday was devised as the follow-up to The Young Ones, and the breezy musical is similar to Elvis Presley's films of the early 1960s. Packed with wall-to-wall songs, the film stars Cliff Richard as a handsome, likable bus mechanic who can also sing. He and three buddies borrow a red double-decker bus from London Transport and tour through mainland Europe for the summer. Like Presley's musicals, Summer Holiday is light on plot but exploits the vacation sites, landscapes, and local color of European tourist spots. Richard and his buddies sing and dance their way through Europe, from France through Yugoslavia to Greece. Along the way, they pick up a trio of stranded girls as well as a mysterious "boy" who turns out to be famed American singer Barbara Winters, played by Lauri Peters. The film was a vehicle written for Richard, whose wholesome, light-hearted image spurred the entertainment press to dub him the Peter Pan of Pop. Five of the film's 16 songs became major hits for Richard, with four reaching number one on the British charts, including "Summer Holiday," "The Next Time," "Foot Tapper," and "Bachelor Boy," which was added after principal photography was over because Richard sensed it would be a hit.
Summer Holiday differs from the Presley musicals because there is a stronger emphasis on choreographed dances. Instead of a bevy of beauties dancing the latest craze behind the star singer, as in Presley's movies, Summer Holiday uses professional dancers in production numbers that are integrated into the narrative and choreographed to the locations. Though Richard and costars Melvyn Hayes and Jeremy Bulloch were spry enough to participate in some of the dance sequences, most of the complex routines were handled by professional Teddy Green, who played Richard's buddy, Steve. A young Herbert Ross, later a notable Hollywood director of such popular hits as The Sunshine Boys (1975), Footloose (1984), and The Turning Point (1977), choreographed the dances and directed the production numbers. Before principal shooting began, he rehearsed the dance sequences at length and then coordinated them to the camera movement and placement, which is in keeping with Hollywood convention. The musical is an American genre, and English directors and crews lacked experience in staging production numbers for the camera. Ross, an American, emulated the classic musicals of the Golden Age of Hollywood by choreographing the dance sequences to the location to facilitate their integration into the narrative.
Slight in plot and character, Summer Holiday not only benefitted from Ross's expertise in staging musical numbers but also director Peter Yates's skills with shooting on location. The British pop musicals of the early 1960s launched the careers of several prominent directors, including Richard Lester (A Hard Day's Night, 1964) and Sidney J. Furie (The Young Ones). Summer Holiday is no exception, with Peter Yates making his directorial debut. Originally, a stage actor and director, Yates moved into film production in the late 1950s, working as an editor of documentaries and an editor for a dubbing house specializing in subtitling foreign films. He quickly rose up the ranks, serving as an assistant director on Sons and Lovers (1960) and The Guns of Navarone (1961). When Yates was hired as the assistant director on The Entertainer (1960) and A Taste of Honey (1961), he learned the art of shooting on location from Tony Richardson, one of the seminal filmmakers of the British New Wave, also called the Angry Young Man generation. Richardson had begun his career as part of the Free Cinema documentary movement, which advocated shooting on location with minimal equipment to capture their working class subjects authentically and naturally. When he began directing feature films, he adapted the Free Cinema aesthetic and approach to his features. Richardson's influence on Yates was immeasurable as one of the latter's talents was his ability to thoroughly integrate action to location. Throughout his career, Yates insisted on shooting on location wherever possible.
The production numbers benefit the most from Yates's skill with location shooting. A few numbers are set indoors in clubs or other interiors, which were studio sets constructed especially for those sequences, much to Yates's chagrin. But, many are set outdoors in picturesque landscapes. For "Stranger in Town," Richard romps through a city park in Greece as he sings, "Every girl is a beautiful girl when you're a stranger in town." The number is played for laughs because each time Richard approaches a pretty girl surrounded by flowers or a quaint setting, she turns into a grandmother, complete with a black babushka and a black wool dress, through the magic of editing. Later, Richard strolls around the hills of Athens crooning "The Next Time," with the Acropolis artfully framed in the background, providing an exotic backdrop to an ordinary pop song.
One lively production number resulted in the banning of Summer Holiday in Communist Yugoslavia. When Richard and his cohorts drive through Yugoslavia (a scene shot in Greece), a miscommunication between Richard and a local girl, played by Wendy Barrie, results in a near wedding for the crooner. The locals set up a peasant-style wedding in an old barn, which turns into the comic song-and-dance number "Dancing Shoes." The Yugoslav peasants are depicted as uncouth, crude, and even oversexed stereotypes, which prompted Yugoslavian authorities to ban the film and denounce Yates and Richard after its release.
Yates knew the story for Summer Holiday was slight, but he understood that the key to the teen musical genre was not the plotline--it was the energy. The pop-rock music, the crazy dances, and the pace of teen life were fueled by a boundless energy, and he was determined to express that in his interpretation of the material. Ross's precise and crisp choreography was captured by Yates's mobile camera, which smoothly and effortlessly tracked with the dancers from the background to the foreground or from screen right to screen left. On occasion, crane shots of the dancers moving in unison facilitated the sense of movement, and therefore energy, in the scene. Even sequences that did not contain musical numbers included a great deal of movement in the frame in order to suggest energy: The red bus raced along city streets or dirt roads, while characters stumbled around the city or countryside, bounced on hay stacks, or scrambled to escape some perceived threat.
Four years after the box office success of Summer Holiday, Yates received his career break when he was asked to direct Robbery (1967), an action thriller with a harrowing opening car chase and a climactic action sequence. When Steve McQueen saw Robbery, he requested Yates to direct Bullitt (1968), which includes one of the most famous car chases in cinema history. The sequence features McQueen's character racing through the hilly streets of San Francisco, careening corners and bouncing down steep inclines. While teen fluff such as Summer Holiday seems to have little in common with the gripping action of Bullitt, both exhibit Yates's skill for integrating action with location.
Producer: Kenneth Harper for Elstree Distributors Ltd.
Director: Peter Yates
Screenplay: Peter Myers and Ronald Cass
Cinematography: John Wilcox
Editor: Jack Slade
Art Director: Syd Cain
Choreography: Herbert Ross
Original Music: Stanley Black
Cast: Don (Cliff Richard), Barbara Winters (Lauri Peters), Cyril (Melvyn Hayes), Sandy (Una Stubbs), Steve (Teddy Green), Angie (Pamela Hart), Edwin (Jeremy Bulloch), Mimsie (Jacqueline Daryl), Jerry (Lionel Murton), Stella Winters (Madge Ryan), The Great Orlando (Ron Moody), Yugoslavian Shepherdess (Wendy Barrie), Annie (Christine Lawson), Hank B. Marvin, Brian Locking, Brian Bennett, and Bruce Welch (The Shadows).
by Susan Doll
Summer Holiday (1963)
A young Barbra Streisand was first considered for the role of the American stowaway Barbara, but was then deemed "too big" (as in too famous) for the part and would take the limelight away from Cliff Richard.
Location scenes filmed in France and Greece. Opened in London in January 1963; running time: 109 min.
Released in United States 1963
Directorial debut for Peter Yates.
Released in United States 1963