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DVD Review: Hold On! (1966)

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I wouldn’t begrudge anyone’s enjoyment of Hold On!, a thin excuse to showcase an album’s worth of songs from British Invasion boy band Herman’s Hermits. That said, I don’t have much esteem for the taste of anyone who likes the film on anything other than a nostalgic and/or semi-ironic basis.

As utterly benign as any given song from the Hermits, Hold On! Is clearly trying to replicate the madcap spirit of Richard Lester’s A Hard Day’s Night, but what we get instead is relentlessly corny rather than breezily fun. That the Hermits’ musical talents don’t approach those of The Beatles goes without saying.

When American children vote to name the next Gemini space capsule after the band, a worried NASA sends bumbling scientist Ed Lindquist (Herbert Anderson) to follow their tour and make sure it’s an appropriate choice. Meanwhile, Herman (Peter Noone) and the essentially faceless rest of the band bemoan the fact that they can’t have a normal life. Mobs of screaming girls confront them everywhere they go, but Herman just wants to meet a nice girl and fall in love.

Plenty of songs break out in the loosely connected collection of scenes, where Lindquist finds himself getting doused with water surprisingly often and Herman finds the love of his life in Louisa (Shelley Fabares), the daughter of a charity event organizer where the Hermits are set to play.

There’s also a subplot in there about an aspiring actress (Sue Ane Langdon) who thinks Lindquist can help get her in with the Hermits, while he believes she has confidential information about the band. The film sets up opportunities like this for misunderstanding fairly frequently, but doesn’t allow them to even pay off properly, opting instead for musical interludes to pad out the running time to 85 minutes.

Hold On! arrives from Warner Archive with a remastered transfer, but the image still shows a fair amount of scratches, flickering and other small-scale damage. Colors are fairly stable, but there is some pulsating to be found throughout, along with a pervasive softness that takes hold in longer shots. Audio is strong, with good fidelity during the musical numbers and clear, clean dialogue the rest of the time. The disc also contains the film’s theatrical trailer.

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About Dusty Somers

Dusty Somers is a Seattle-based editor and writer. He is a member of the Online Film Critics Society and Seattle Theater Writers.