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Altogether not bad

March 22, 2019

I Wanna Hold Your Hand (1978), which is coming out from The Criterion Collection, was an altogether not-bad movie, as I recall, whose stock rose retroactively when it became clear that its first-time director, Robert Zemeckis, had become one of the most Zeitgeisty if least interesting directors of the 80s (Roger Rabbit) and 90s (Forrest Gump). It seems now like a "little film" out of the post-Jaws, post-Star Wars Hollywood of behemoths and blockbusters, with a cast numerous of whom turned up the very next year in Spielberg's underrated (though not by much) 1941, which Zemeckis co-wrote. There are several sweet scenes, most involving Nancy Allen as the Paul-hungry one; memorable sight gags, like the 13-year-old with Beatle hair being jacked up by intervals on a barber's chair and looking like his life is about to end; and a thrilling climax turning on the Ed Sullivan debut and a Beatle-hating Jersey boy who climbs a transmitter tower to terminate the broadcast and is struck down by the wrath of God—or, as I prefer to read it, Mother Nature. (She's a Beatlemaniac too.)

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