Young Ones, The (1961 with Cliff Richard and Robert Morley)


UK / 1961

Director: Sidney J. Furie
Writers: Peter Myers, Ronald Cass

Cast: Cliff Richard, Robert Morley, Carole Grey, Richard O’Sullivan, Melvyn Hayes

‘Hey, let’s put on a show, right here in the youth club’, might be the rallying cry of this English musical wherein a rich boy trying for a pop career finds his pet hang-out threatened by his property-developing Dad. The venue’s closure forces them to set up rehearsals in an abandoned theatre. Happily, youthful high spirits carry the day.

This was the first of the three screen musicals that brought Cliff Richard from a mean and moody English equivalent of Elvis (as in Expresso Bongo) to an all-round, wholesome and whole-family-appealing entertainer (the next two were Summer Holiday and Wonderful Life). The Peter Myers/ Ronnie Cass title song was a 21-week hit for Cliff, his longest lasting (equal with Living Doll), and reached Number One. The movie was intended to demonstrate that the British industry could do this kind of thing just as well as the Americans and, when it came out, the critics hailed it as a breakthrough. But it’s some indication of the innocence of the time in Britain that for American release it had to be re-titled Wonderful to Be Young!. Clearly its US distributors feared that the original title would suggest a delinquency story in the States.

Director Furie employed top American choreographer Herbert Ross, so the dancing in The Young Ones is more American-influenced than in any comparable British movie, with a discernible touch of Bob Fosse about it. In the years after it opened, a consensus has grown up that the film has dated badly but it still has bags of charm in our opinion.