Joshua Reviews Arthur Lubin’s Hold On [Warner Archive DVD Review]

While names like The Beatles and The Monkees may rule the historic roost when it comes to mop-topped pop icons, a little known group is looking to return to the public’s mind thanks to The Warner Archive.

Following the relatively recent Criterion Collection release of The Monkees’ Head, the Archive has released the rarely discussed gem of a pop picture, entitled Hold On.   Starring the chart-topping pop troupe Herman’s Hermits (known for tracks like ‘A Must To Avoid’ and the title track, ‘Hold On’), Hold On follows the five-some as they go on their US tour, and must avoid the hordes of screaming women and the occasional star hunter as they wait to find out if a NASA rocket will have their name adorned on the side of it. Secretly watched by a scientist to see if they are truly worthy of having their name on the rocket, the film itself is not only a really engaging take on the pop feature, but also a welcome addition to any music fan’s DVD collection.

Not the most storied of ‘˜60s pop outfits, Herman’s Hermits did have a string of hits, but have since become victim of history’s eye, which has become focused on many of the more iconic names the time period had to offer.   However, while a film like A Hard Day’s Night or the aforementioned Head may truly be a ‘better’ film, Hold On is just as enjoyable if not quite as inspired.

Directed by Arthur Lubin, the film overall isn’t quite as steeped in coherent plot as one would hope.   Hold On’s plot does get a bit convoluted, simply for the fact that it’s a film solely based around a series of performances, and a haphazard narrative that don’t quite gel well together.   That all said, the film does ooze this sense of fun and contagious heart that is impossible to miss.

As one would expect, the Herman’s Hermits star in the film, and are truly the most entertaining aspect.   Each member has a really great sense of singularity, with the lead going to frontman Peter Noone.   He has a great sense of charisma and a certain charm about him that makes him and his performance utterly watchable.   He and his cohorts don’t come up against anything resembling a problematic antagonist, so tension is almost non-existent, but what the five here are really able to do is give the film a strong core of charm that makes this an imminently watchable flick.   Also featuring a really fun turn from Shelley Fabares, and you have a cast that carries this film on its more than capable shoulders.

Oh, and the tunes are absolutely killer.   Both ‘A Must To Avoid’ and ‘Hold On’ are gems of the era, and really give Hold On a great vibe and atmosphere.   Toss in the really entertaining, if absolutely nonsensical narrative, and you have a feature that is not only unlike anything that you’ll see around, but one that any fan of music really needs to put right on their shelf. The film stars alongside other titles the band was featured on, such as Pop Gear, When The Boys Meet The Girls, and Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter, but this is arguably the quintet’s most popular project.

Arthur Lubin directs the film, and crafts a beautiful film, and one that thrives on the party atmosphere set up by the film’s cast and soundtrack.   The film has a great sense of style and color, with each musical set piece holding its own against the last.   Not as visually inspired as something like Head, nor as feverishly enthralling as Hard Day’s Night, Hold On is a time capsule all its own, and one that is as timeless as the next.

Still active to this day, Herman’s Hermits may have gone through some lineup changes, and animosity over the use of the group’s name, but have not lost that much footing in the eyes of history.   Riding the bench on the ‘˜60s pop team led by the Beatles and Monkee’s, Herman’s Hermits, or Hold On for that matter, may not be the most well known amongst the pop culture zeitgeist, but for those looking for a true long lost gem, pick up a copy of Hold On a.s.a.p.   Low on tension, but high on heart and charm, Hold On is a wonderfully enjoyable look into a quintet that history has somewhat forgotten.   The film doesn’t stray too far from its ‘˜60s teen pop flick formula, but hey, what isn’t broke shouldn’t be fixed.   And if this film is any proof, it’s a formula that sure as hell never broke.

Buy the DVD here.

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