“This is one of those films that you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand, but it does involve a rocket scientist.” – Robert Osborne, Turner Classic Movies
Hold On! (1966) is a film that combines the British invasion of the 1960s with the space race.
NASA is planning on launching another Gemini space capsule, and they want the children of their astronauts to choose a “good luck” name for the vessel. The children choose “Herman’s Hermits,” naming the space capsule after one of their favorite bands.
NASA is skeptical about naming the vessel after a group of British teens, so they send Edward Lindquist to shadow the band on tour, finding out all that he can about them.
Meanwhile, aspiring actress Cecile Bannister has PR concerns of another type. She wants to use Herman and his Hermits to give a boost to her own career. She hires an agent and a photographer to photograph her with the band, hoping it will lead her to a film contract.
Lindquist comes to believe that Cecile is truly an associate of the band, while she believes that he works for the band, and the two try to use each other to get more information, though neither of them actually has information.
Directed by Arthur Lubin, Hold On! is one of four films to feature Herman’s Hermits.
I’m a fan of Herman’s Hermits, and I would have watched the film for their musical performances alone, but TCM’s streaming service hooked me in with their short description of the film: “Rocket scientists consider naming a space ship after Herman’s Hermits.” This sounds completely ridiculous, but it also sounds like an incredibly thin plot.
When I began watching the film I realized that the story is slightly more complex than that one-line description gives it credit for, but it’s still very light fare clearly designed to showcase the music (and popularity) of Herman’s Hermits.
This movie kind of beats the viewer over the head with how well-loved the band is. It’s full of fangirl screams, some of which get in the way of the musical performances. “Amazing spectacle!,” Lindquist proclaims upon experiencing his first riot of Hermits fans.
I would almost consider Hold On! to be a Classic of the Corn. There are a couple of incredibly cheesy daydream sequences from Herman (aka Peter Noone), including one in which he becomes an astronaut, exchanges terrible jokes with a fellow astronaut (most of which revolve around a floating chicken sandwich) and then performs in zero gravity.
Hold On! is, overall, a fun watch. It isn’t a great film, but it’s definitely enjoyable for fans of ’60s pop, and more specifically Herman’s Hermits. The score: 2.5/5