It’s 1965, and you’re a British Invasion band that has ridden the wave across the pond and conquered America with the “(Insert English Region Name Here) Sound.” Just like The Beatles. So naturally, you’re going to make a movie. Just like The Beatles.
Well, not exactly. Not at all.
I have to again remind the younger generation that there was a time when the vast majority of movies and television were just completely inaccessible. There were no VCRs, cable hadn’t become what it is, there was no on demand, and streaming was almost unimaginable. So if there was something unusual that you wanted to see, you had to hope some channel you got (or film society you belonged to) would be programming it. There was a lot of serendipity. Being a big Dave Clark Five fan around 1981, I already had this album, but had no hope of ever seeing the movie until suddenly MTV announced they were going to run the movie as a special break from their video format. (At least, I imagine it was MTV, because I don’t know who else would have shown it.) I was, to put it mildly, excited. I was gonna see something amazing and rare.
I had a friend, Jerry, who was also into music, though I’m sure less into the DC5 than I, who also had a bigger, nicer apartment, a bigger, nicer television (with cable, which we didn’t have yet), and a bigger, nicer sound system. Jerry offered to host a viewing party. With nothing to expect other than that it was probably going to be just like “A Hard Day’s Night,” which I doubt everyone there had seen, everyone was settled in for a campy, ’60s style good time. It’s a movie about a ’60s British Invasion band — how can you fuck that up?
In every way imaginable.
Despite the title, this is not “A Hard Dave’s Night.” (Ohh, but that would have been good.) For starters, it’s not about the band. It also doesn’t feature the band. It does feature Dave Clark as a stuntman who runs off with a young celebrity model. The rest of the band play a team of stuntmen and extras. Wikipedia says “Far from being a conventional pop vehicle, the film concerns itself with the frailty of personal relationships, the flimsiness of dreams, and the difficulty of maintaining spontaneity, authenticity and integrity in a stage-managed ‘society of the spectacle.’” The movie, the first feature directed by John Boorman (“Deliverance,” but also “Zardoz”), was released in the UK as “Catch Us If You Can,” and the band’s track of the same name is really one of their best songs. It was released in the US as “Having A Wild Weekend,” which title got a more generic beat group song treatment. (Only four of the songs on the album were featured in the movie, and they are the better tracks. I’ve gotta say that once again, the instrumental “No Stopping” is the best track on the album, giving the saxophone a real workout.)
I don’t think we turned it off, but I know we stopped watching. I may have apologized. It’s been a long time. We moved on to some music that was definitely not the DC5.
Weirdly, the movie had one really long-lasting effect on me. The conceit of the movie was that the stuntman (Dave Clark) and the model (played by Barbara Ferris) were part of a campaign promoting meat — she was the “Butcher Girl,” and the campaign’s slogan was “Meat For Go.” That was such an odd, odd phrasing, at least to American ears, that it got soundly stuck within mine. And somewhere along the line, roommate Danny and I started referring to milk as “meat,” and anytime we pulled milk from the special mini-fridge we kept it in to keep it (and beer) extra cold, we would call out “Meat For Go!” And that is why, to this day, I have a little toy car that just says “Meat” on top. He sent it to me at some point, and I’ve always kept it around.