Official US movie poster
|Directed by||Arthur Lubin|
|Produced by||Sam Katzman|
|Written by||Robert E. Kent (credited as "James B. Gordon")|
Sue Ane Langdon
|Music by||Fred Karger (score)|
Herman's Hermits (songs)
|Cinematography||Paul C. Vogel|
|Edited by||Ben Lewis|
Hold On! is a 1966 musical film directed by Arthur Lubin and starring Peter Noone, Shelley Fabares, Herbert Anderson, and Sue Ane Langdon. The film features performances by Herman's Hermits and stars the band as fictionalized versions of themselves. The soundtrack was released as an album, also called Hold On!.
When the children of American astronauts choose "Herman's Hermits" as the "good luck name" of the next Gemini space capsule,NASA scientist Edward Lindquist is sent by U.S. State Department official Colby Grant to shadow the band on tour. His orders are to find out all he can about them to stave off a "P.R. nightmare". (Grant fears that putting the band's name on the rocket will make the world think the U.S. is "still a colony of Great Britain".)
Aspiring starlet Cecilie Bannister hires a publicity agent and photographer to take photos of her with Herman and the band, sure that this publicity boost will get her a new contract with a movie studio. They take an unflattering picture during a riot of teenage girls at Los Angeles International Airport but the misleading story in the newspapers leads Lindquist to believe that Bannister is an "old friend" of Herman's. Likewise, Bannister believes that Lindquist is a writer and part of the band's entourage as they pump each other for information about the band that neither of them really has.
Herman and his bandmates, mobbed wherever they appear, are sequestered in their rooms at the Miramar Hotel by their manager, Dudley, in advance of a charity benefit performance. Herman sees teens playing on the beach and wishes he could be one of them, meet the girl of his dreams, and fall in love. Mrs. Page, the benefit organizer, introduces Herman to her daughter, Louisa, who offers to show him the sights of Los Angeles. Denied by Dudley, Herman and the Hermits sneak off to Pacific Ocean Park where they split up, reasoning correctly that if they don't stick together, nobody will recognize them. Herman finds Louisa and falls in love while the other band members explore the park. Believing that the boys have been kidnapped, Dudley calls in the police.
Lindquist and Herman meet up again on the roller coaster and the scientist realizes than Bannister has been feeding him false information. Cleared of the kidnapping charges, Lindquist comes clean to the band about his mission and they arrange to have Grant see the band perform at the charity benefit. When teens overrun the country club, the mayhem convinces Grant to cancel the rocket naming but nationwide teen protests force NASA to name the capsule "Herman's Hermits". During a climactic concert for 50,000 fans at the Rose Bowl, the band is whisked by hypersonic jet to Cape Kennedy for the rocket launch and back in time to finish the concert and play one more song before the credits roll.
Hold On!, largely an excuse to string together performances by Herman's Hermits, stars the band as themselves on tour across the United States. The bad had already appeared in a film for MGM produced by Sam Katzman When the Boys Meet the Girls. Katzman decided to put the band in their own film.
The Beatles and The Dave Clark Five had already appeared in films. Peter Noone later joked, "where we jumped out of the loop was...the Beatles ran away from girls and the Dave Clark Five ran away from girls, but we slowed down for the really sexy ones. So we set a new standard for British rock bands!"
The film's name was changed to A Must to Avoid and songwriter P. F. Sloan was commissioned to write a theme song in less than two days. He completed the song and it appears in the film but the studio, realizing the negative connotation of calling a movie A Must to Avoid, then changed the movie's name to Hold On!. Sloan wrote that title song as well. Noone said "so they wrote a scene, basically, where I was on a rollercoaster and where I would hold on. D'you see what I mean? It sounds like wild, wacky stuff, but it was all real!"
Noone later said Lubin "was the real thing... He was amazing. And he was a real gentleman. He gave us all kinds of good advice. I was already an actor - I'd already gone through acting school and stuff like that - but none of the others had. They were just thrown into the deep end. And he gave them time to be...themselves, basically."
We had total control over the songs, and we just did mad stuff. They said, "What song do you want to sing in the spaceship?" And we said, "Leaning on a Lamppost." It's just odd, really, that we would go there. But Arthur Lubin went with it. He thought, "Well, I guess they know what they're doing, these guys." They didn't realize that we didn't just look 16, we were 16. We weren't actors! But they let us do just about whatever we wanted.
When the film was initially released, the Los Angeles Times said it "lets loose the bright presence of Herman's Hermits on the wide screen" but opined that "their high spirits have been cut down to fit producer Sam Katzman's trite formula for teen-age entertainment".The New York Times called the film "an occasionally amusing but nonsensical pastiche" that served "as the cement to hold together the song sequences of Herman's Hermits".
Other contemporary reviewers were more forgiving, with The Film Daily calling Hold On! a "fun and frolic in a formula vein" with the presence of Herman's Hermits making of "a foregone boxoffice win" with "youngsters".Boys' Life described the film as only for "swingers who are really with it".
In December 2000, the Denver Post described the band as "a Backstreet Boys for their time" in an article titled "Not quite like Hard Day's Night". An April 2010 review in the Boston Globe noted that The Beatles in A Hard Day's Night and Help! made getting a "British Invasion band to play themselves in a movie with a made-up story" look "so easy" that MGM believed that Herman's Hermits could share similar success but that with Hold On! the "only similarity to Help! is the exclamation mark".
Diabolique magazine said "Shelley Fabares is wasted and the film's quality is a long way from A Hard Day's Night... but it is full of high spirits and features eleven Herman's Hermits tunes."
For many years, the film was not available on home video in the United States. Turner Classic Movies (TCM) ranked the demand for Hold On! as #380 on the TCM Not-On-Home Video list. While TCM does broadcast the film once or twice a year, in September 2010 USA Today described the film as "rarely seen". The film was finally made available on DVD in 2011 through the Warner Archive Collection.
The other is "Hold On!," an occasionally amusing but nonsensical pastiche that serves as the cement to hold together the song sequences of Herman's Hermits.
Children of America's astronauts vote to name a spaceship after Herman's Hermits.