31 December 2013
Ring-A-Ding In the New Year
Known as, "Ring-A-Ding Rhythm" in the US or, "It's Trad, Dad," in the UK, this little picture was directed by Richard Lester in 1962 and was turned on to me by fellow TCM obsessive, Main Line Sportsman sometime last night. I hate to say, "last night" 'cause it's embarrassing I never heard of it. Who cares.
It's a funky little film that mixes a fictional "Boy-Girl story with amazing B&W cinema vérité and you can see Lester's, "A Hard Day's Night" coming at you for a country mile. It's a rough patch at the beginning but it manages to loosen up and the musical numbers are the reason to hang in there.
Bert Stern mentioned in a Lincoln Center viewing of his 1958 documentary, 'Jazz on a Summer's Day,' that it was his original intent to have a "Boy-Girl backstory with actual footage of the festival threaded throughout the film. He eventually gave up on the idea, in large part, because there was no script and he was winging it without any idea of what to do with the story. Lester, a sneeze in time later, seemed to pull off what Stern couldn't do with, Ring-A-Ding/It's Trad Dad.
Bizarre minutiae attends this film in spades, which really makes for a deeper appreciation. John Lennon wrote "Misery" for the "Girl" and co star, Helen Shapiro, a uniquely attractive brunette with an even more unique and beautiful voice. The Boy, Craig Douglas, is still touring, although in a wheel chair, and his performance, as a "local" introduced by Miss Shapiro in this clip, "Rainbow in Your Tea" is a show stealer. Then there's a bizarre appearance Craig makes in a very rare clip (that's what they say) of Russ Conway's television show, Russ Conway & a Few Friends:
Sweet, Jesus. If I were a designer, I'd rip off this entire clip, shoot it in B&W at the Oak Room in the Algonquin and use it to feature my new line. It certainly beats Lincoln Center. Happy New Year.