I Wanna Hold Your Hand (1978)

Despite the low budget of this film, seeing as how it was Robert Zemeckis’ first movie — and Steven Spielberg’s first produced film — Spielberg promised to step in if things ever got out of hand.

Written by Zemeckis and Bob Gale, the film pulls off an interesting paradox. It’s a movie about the Beatles but we never see them. Instead, Pam Mitchell (Nancy Allen) and Rosie Petrofsky (Wendi Jo Sperber, forever in my heart; unlike the twentysomething teenagers in this movie, she lied about her age and she was only seventeen when she was hired) dream, plan and scheme to get to the Ed Sullivan Show to catch the first U.S. appearance of the lads from Liverpool.

Along with Grace Corrigan (Theresa Saldana), Larry (Marc McClure), Janis (Susan Kendall Newman, daughter of Paul) and Tony (Bobby Di Cicco), they’re grabbed a limo and headed out to the Fab Four’s hotel. Pam even ends up trapped up John’s bed as the band hangs out in their room, as all manner of hijinks ensure, as this is a movie with a very simple premise and an episodic unfolded of the panic that happens when Beatlemania took over the country. And oh yeah — Eddie Deezen!

Di Cicco, Sperber, Allen and Deezen would all appear in Spielberg’s next movie 1941, which was also written by Gale and Zemeckis. Sperber and McClure would also appear in another Spielberg, Gale and Zemeckis associated series: Back to the Future.

It’s pretty astounding that twelves Beatles songs were cleared for this movie, which just didn’t happen back in the late 70s. At the time, the rights were spread across numerous entities, which made it even more difficult to get all of the soundtrack approved.

I first saw this late at night on a UHF channel and ended up loving it way more than I thought that I would. It just works; seeing it again years later, it holds up.

Be sure to join us for our three part “The Beatles: Influence on Film” series as we look at 33 films dealing with the legacy of the Beatles.

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