Cliff's Going Where the Sun Shines Brightly
There was the King, Elvis, he made great music and also movies and then there was Cliff Richard, the British equivalent and like Elvis he not only sang he made movies. Now it has to be said that many of Elvis's movies were less than great and funnily enough you could say the same about Cliff's movies. One of his most popular and one which seems to get churned out for an annual airing on British TV is "Summer Holiday" a jaunty musical about 4 friends, a London Double Decker bus and a journey across Europe. Is it any good? Well "Summer Holiday" is corny, cheesy, stereotypical, full of catchy songs and heavily staged scenes but "Summer Holiday" is also strangely entertaining and memorable thanks to many of those catchy songs.
London mechanics; Don (Cliff Richard), Cyril (Melvyn Hayes), Steve (Teddy Green) adn Edwin (Jeremy Bulloch) make a deal with London Transport to convert one of their Double Decker busses into a mobile hotel and drive it to France. But along the way they find themselves picking up a troop of young female singers who need to get to Athens and so the boys change their plans. But the group of girls are not the only passengers as they discover a stowaway, a young American who calls themselves Bob (Lauri Peters). Believing the stowaway is a boy they allow him to travel with them. But the truth is Bob is in fact singer Barbara Winters who has runaway from her controlling mother, who discovering where her daughter is plots to make the most of it and turn it into a publicity stunt.
So the storyline to "Summer Holiday" is shall we say less than important and is essentially a road trip movie with the bus journey across Europe. And as such it has all the staple elements of road trip movies, the mishaps, the extra passengers and of course an unexpected romance which for the audience is anything but unexpected. The romance comes from the surprise stowaway and many of the journey mishaps come from the stowaways profiteering parents who spot an opportunity to make money and get publicity. But that is it; "Summer Holiday" is really just a musical road trip movie.
But the weak storyline really isn't an issue as first and foremost "Summer Holiday" is a musical and a vehicle to demonstrate the singing talents of Cliff Richard as well as turning him into a movie heart throb. As a musical it is littered with song and dance scenes with some better than others. The various renditions of "Summer Holiday" are pleasant enough yet the almost crass song built around nursery rhymes which then leads to confusion in a small European village is pure cheese. And that is one of the most annoying things as one moment there is a really nice musical scene yet the next there is something completely pointless and throw away.
And the same can be said for the various dance numbers which rely heavily on Teddy Green to make them work. As such those dance scenes with Green as the focus point are quite good, full of energy and looking quite professional yet when they focus on any of the other stars it seems messy.
As for Cliff Richard as an actor, well he's perky and full of boyish charm as Don but you wouldn't say that it is great acting. It's a performance that is in tune with the movie with some good points, particularly when Cliff is singing one of the better musical numbers, yet just as many poor points such as when Cliff has to deliver some meaningful dialogue, which it has to be said there isn't much of anyway. Aside from Cliff, Lauri Peters is sweet and lovely as Barbara Winters and is a nice pairing to work alongside Cliff in a romantic storyline. And then there are the rest of the cast a whole feast of recognizable faces from the Brit scene; there is a bleach blonde Melvyn Hayes, a domineering Una Stubbs and many more. Although the best performance comes from Ron Moody who only has a few scenes as mime artist Orlando but they are the most memorable in the entire movie as the whole troop of passengers on the bus perform before a judge.
What this all boils down to is that "Summer Holiday" is entertaining, it has some nice musical scenes but it is also seriously cheesy with plenty of overly choreographed and corny moments and songs. But it is the most popular of Cliff's movies and even if it is corny it is what it is an innocent fun musical.