“Catch Us If You Can” (1965)

Catch Us If You Can, The Dave Clark Five’s strange answer to A Hard Day’s Night, may look like a rip-off of Richard Lester’s style, and it even resembles later ‘60s shambles such as The Party (the big climax takes place at an impressively large costume party), but it has a cloudy, downbeat spirit. Clark himself has a dour, intractable presence, but it’s hard to know how to read him because the movie is about young people who’ve soured on the entertainment industry. A pretty young model for Britain’s meat industry (the campaign’s slogan, plastered in giant letters on what looks like every wall in London, reads MEAT FOR GO!!) and Clark, playing her boyfriend who’s also a stuntman on her crew, having tired of the grind, run away for a distant island paradise. The ad execs decide to exploit the situation by claiming that Clark has kidnapped the girl, then follow them just out of arm’s length so they can grab the couple with a maximum of exposure. Most of the movie consists of absurdist but not very fun montages (set to DCF tunes which have not gained in interest with the years) of the young couple scuba-diving in an outdoor pool, taking up with a band of longhairs who (naturally) come under fire from the army, and driving around in a gorgeous white Jaguar.

What’s weird is that this was the movie which convinced Lee Marvin that John Boorman was the man to direct Point Blank. It was Boorman’s first movie, and it’s definitely coming from the woolly part of his brain that produced Excalibur, Zardoz and The Emerald Forest, but it comes together more than it should at the end, which is beautifully shot and closes on a surprising note of defeat. That’s not the way A Hard Day’s Night ended, if I remember rightly, but it may well have been what caught Marvin’s eye.

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