Catch Us If You Can review – on the run with the Dave Clark Five
A year after Richard Lester’s A Hard Day’s Night, and a year before the Monkees were grown in TV’s pop culture lab, director John Boorman made his feature debut with this very English madcap pop lark from 1965, scripted by Peter Nichols and starring the Dave Clark Five as themselves. Or almost. They’re not supposed to be musicians, but rather stunt-men who live together in a wacky shared flat (evidently a converted church organ loft) that is dominated by gigantic posters of the sort generally collected by wealthy pop-art enthusiasts.
Dave Clark plays handsome Steve, first among equals in the gang, and they’re filming a TV commercial for the meat-marketing board starring It -girl and supermodel Dinah (Barbara Ferris). She’s so important she has a bodyguard on the set, who frowningly reads The Naked Lunch. Dinah has a crush on Steve, and the couple impulsively decide to abandon the shoot, pinching the production’s E-type Jag and going on the run together for zany 60s-style misadventures – an escapade cynically exploited for publicity by Leon (played by silvery-voiced David de Keyser) who is the UK’s meat supremo and also apparently Dinah’s creepy sugar-daddy.
This film is amiably daft, pretty clunky and dated, but a very potent time-capsule for the 1960s: like the early movies of Godard, it is obsessed with the language of publicity: advertising, magazines, the mass media. Yootha Joyce has a ripe cameo as an older woman who takes an interest in our Steve – though without pressing her attentions in ways that would have taken this film out of the teen/family entertainment bracket – and there is an odd scene in which Dinah and Steve warily encounter some grumpy hippies in a ruined building; here Britcom fans will enjoy the appearance of Sheila Fearn (Terry’s sister in The Likely Lads). An archival frisson.