I Wanna Hold Your Hand (1978)

i wanna hold your hand poster 1978 movie
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Fun, light movie, clever shooting of Ed Sullivan Show


Movie Info

Movie Name:  I Wanna Hold Your Hand

Studio: Universal Pictures

Genre(s): Comedy

Release Date(s): April 21, 1978

MPAA Rating: PG

i wanna hold your hand nancy allen guitar scene

Meet the Beatles (or at least their instruments)

It is February 8, 1964, and the Beatles are going to be on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964 for their first U.S. performance.  Grace Corrigan (Theresa Saldana) wants to get an exclusive picture of the band to help her get ahead in journalism, Pam Mitchell (Nancy Allen) finds herself pulled along on the eve of her elopement, Janis Goldman (Susan Kendall Newman) wants to show how the Beatles are ruining music, and Rosie Petrofsky (Wendie Jo Sperber) knows that she is destine to marry Paul.  Recruiting Larry Dubois (Marc McClure) for his father’s limo and finding Tony Smerko (Bobby Di Cicco) inserting himself in the situation, the group finds themselves headed for NYC with one goal:  See the Beatles!

Directed by Robert Zemeckis in his first feature film (he also helped pen the script with Bob Gale), I Wanna Hold Your Hand is a teen comedy.  The movie was the first film produced by Steven Spielberg and was released to positive reviews.  The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #967).

i wanna hold your hand wendie jo sperber eddie deezen

Uber-Fans = Uber-Know-It-Alls

The Beatles hit America, and their appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show is legendary.  Even as a kid years later, you’d see videos of people screaming, crying, and completely pushed to the edge.  I always wondered what happen to the girls from the broadcast and who they were…I Wanna Hold Your Hand is an attempt at combining both nostalgia and an original story.

The movie is pretty smartly written.  It is an ensemble cast, but they manage to keep most of the characters going with their own plots as the story fleshes out.  Obviously, there are characters that you care more about and some of the characters they introduce further into the movie (such as Eddie Deezen and Christian Juttner) never feel as fully integrated as the core cast and their stories.

The cast is a lot of fun.  Nancy Allen gets to eat up her scenes in the hotel room with the Beatles’ equipment while “Jimmy Olsen” Marc McClure continues to be the good guy.  Bobby Di Cicco feels like a bad Fonze rip off (but his character is kind of supposed to be), and I like Susan Kendall Newman as the activist character who ends up falling for the Beatles.  The scene stealer of course is Wendie Jo Sperber whose zeal and energy in the film is contagious, and she’s smartly teamed with the goofy Eddie Deezen who rivals her energy.  The film also has a small role by famed character actor Dick Miller as one of the security guards.

i wanna hold your hand ed sullivan show beatles

Where’s Forrest Gump?

The movie is almost Forrest Gump before Forrest Gump (which was also Robert Zemeckis).  The film works to shoot the historical event without bringing in lookalikes and people to play the Beatles front and center.  Instead, you get glimpses of the Beatles, and it doesn’t feel like you’re being ripped off as much as it is clever.

I have always wondered about the audience at The Ed Sullivan Show that night, and I Wanna Hold Your Hand does its best to try to recreate what it might have been like to be there.  It was the hottest ticket in town, and I can imagine that some of the women there weren’t too far off the antics of this group.  The movie is still a great watch and a fun trip of nostalgia even if you weren’t alive at the time…the Beatles are eternal.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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