Ah, the loosely-plotted “performance showcase” musical. This special brand of film is one that I have a love-hate relationship with. If the songs are good enough and the viewer is in the mood not to do much more than enjoy the tunes, they can be highly enjoyable. If the songs are sub-par or the film markets itself as having more of a plot, musicals of this type can be a total disaster.
It’s All Over Town (1963) fits into the “performance showcase” subgenre perfectly. (I’m not sure if there’s a legitimate name for this type of musical, so I’m going to continue to call them performance showcases.)
And luckily, the film does not make the mistake of marketing itself differently. With a run time of only 55 minutes, it’s impossible to go into it expecting anything more than musical fluff.
What little plot the film does have follows Richard Abel (Lance Percival), a stagehand at the London Palladium. Being exposed to the exciting lives of the performers who visit the Palladium, Richard daydreams about having such a swanky lifestyle himself. He pictures himself hanging out with famous people and strippers, and taking part in song-and-dance routines of his own. Through it all, he is accompanied by a buddy known only as “Fat Friend” (William Rushton).
Douglas Hickox (Theater of Blood) directs It’s All Over Town.
The music in this film is not exactly what I expected for 1963. Most early ’60s films of this type featured good old rock ‘n’ roll music. This one goes in a more traditional pop direction, with English crooner Frankie Vaughan receiving top billing. Also appearing are The Springfields (including Dusty!) and The Hollies. The music is for the most part very upbeat and fun, with a few sentimental numbers thrown in. if you enjoy mid-century pop, you’ll enjoy watching the performances.
The weakness of the story makes it difficult to pay attention to the film between musical numbers, but if you’re into any of the featured artists, the film is worth a watch. Worst case scenario, you can speed through to the performances without missing out on anything great, making it as though you’re simply watching a music special or variety show on television.