Julie and the Cadillacs

UK 1997

Reviewed by Philip Kemp

Synopsis

Our synopses give away the plot in full, including surprise twists.

Liverpool, 1964. Performing at the Jailhouse Club, Julie Carr and her backing group the Cadillacs - Tony, John, Jimmy and Roy - are invited down to London for an audition by PR agent Adam Schneider. Adam and his business partner Phil Green sign them up and introduce them to music publisher Cyril Wise. Waiting to cut their first single, the group hang out at a coffee bar where they meet songwriter Mike Williams working as a waiter. He and Julie are attracted, and start working on a song together.

The group cut a number for record company executive Mac MacDonald. Adam and Phil persuade them to use one of Mac's own songs as the 'B' side. At the last moment the disc is flipped to make Mac's mediocre number the 'A' side, and the record flops. While waiting to cut their second disc the group get casual jobs. Julie works as a waitress at a restaurant where Mike plays piano. Adam makes a pass at Julie, who rebuffs him. Discouraged, the Cadillacs return to Liverpool and Mike takes a job on a cruise liner, but Julie stays on in London.

Ten months later, Julie encounters Adam's former secretary Barbara, who quit in disgust and now runs her own talent agency. With her help and that of Cyril Wise, Julie relaunches her career. Mike returns from abroad for an emotional reunion with Julie. Adam and Phil, trying to muscle in on Julie's success, are sent packing. The Cadillacs are summoned back from Liverpool and, together with Julie and Mike, make a triumphant appearance on television.

Review

"Let's do the Timewarp," sang Tim Curry's Frank N Furter with manic glee in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). 'The Timewarp' might have been the ideal theme tune for Julie and the Cadillacs, which appears to have slipped through its own wormhole in space-time, a fluffily naive product of early 60s coffee-bar culture, unexpectedly dropped into the doped-up, cynical late 90s. Starry-eyed, amateurish and endearingly bouncy, Bryan Izzard's film constantly seems to be expecting Cliff Richard to show up in a red doubledecker.

For, unlike Rocky Horror or the musical Little Shop of Horrors, both of which pastiched bygone pop styles for their own spoof-satirical ends, Julie and the Cadillacs plays it straight. Neither the music nor the milieu are sent up; its portrait of the 60s music scene lacks the mordant edge of That'll Be the Day (1973) or Expresso Bongo (1959), let alone the sophistication of A Hard Day's Night (1964). In that neglected and largely despised genre, the British pop movie, this film's nearest relative would be some such uncomplicated celebration as The Young Ones (1961), which makes its emergence on the eve of the millennium all the more bizarre.

The explanation may lie with John Dean, who provides not only the script but all the music and lyrics. On this showing, words aren't his thing: the dialogue is cardboard and the lyrics woefully clunky. ("You must be the next to sign/Right there on the dotted line," sing the sleazy PR partners.) His ear for music is better attuned if confusingly eclectic, the pop styles ranging across all eras. As a post-Beatles Mersey group, the Cadillacs often sound more like early Stones or even Manfred Mann than Gerry and the Pacemakers, while in her solo numbers Julie veers from Shirley Bassey to Dusty Springfield, evoking odd echoes of the Everly Brothers when duetting with Mike.

Acting styles are likewise pick 'n' mix, with a cast of willing but bland youngsters leavened by such practised veterans as Thora Hird and Victor Spinetti, plus former New Wave icon Toyah Willcox, who seems to be metamorphosing into Barbara Windsor. Still, trouble has been taken over the production design; from Mike's quiff to the conical vomit-green coffee cups, all the props are assiduously in period. With no press showing and a minimal release, Julie and the Cadillacs will probably have vanished well before this review appears, but its eager retro amiability may earn it a small cult afterlife on video.

Credits

Producers
John Dean
Sean O'Mahony
Screenplay
John Dean
Director of Photography
Les Young
Editor
James Thomas
Production Designer
Jeremy Bear
Music/Lyrics
John Dean
┬ęParker Mead Productions Limited
Production Company
A Parker Mead production
Associate Producer
Jo O'Mahony
Production Co-ordinator
Kendall Anderson
Production Manager
Christopher Miles
Stage Manager
Carrie Rodd
Location Manager
Brian Kelly
Production Adviser
Vincent Shaw
Assistant Directors
Mike Mollan
Patti Walker Booth
Giles Butler
Continuity
Ellie Gleave
Marian Fowles
Casting
Daniel Hubbard
Aerial Cameraman
Adam Dale
Camera Operators
Joe Taylor
Martin Hailey
Steadicam Operators
Paul Alexander
Simon Harding
Roger Tooley
Alf Tramontin
John Ward
Peter Woodham
Shadow Puppeteer
Dave Showler
Art Director
Linda Stefansdottir
Artist
Ian Gray
Costume Designer
Stephen Adnitt
Wardrobe Supervisor
Hazel Shrives
Make-up Designer
Julieanne Chapman
Hairdresser
John Henry Gordon
Musicians
Keyboards:
Neil Angilley
Guitars:
Jay Stapley
Terry Johnston
Drums:
Steve Rushton
Bass:
Steve Price
Trumpet:
Dave Clewlow
Baritone Sax:
Al Nicholls
Mick Foster
Saxophone:
Paul Mason
Tenor Sax:
Dai Pritchard
Trombone:
Neil Sidwell
Percussion:
Chris Wells
Harmonica:
Adam Glasser
Backing Singers
Lindsey Danvers
Joanna Lee
Moya Ruskin
Nigel Thomas
Piano Hands for Julie
Laura Kelman
Piano Hands for Mike
Nick Dawson
Music Director
Rick Lloyd
Music Arrangements
Keith Roberts
Music Producer
Sean O'Mahony
Music Recording Engineer
Toby Wood
Musical Staging
Carole Todd
Sound Recordist
John Quinn
Dubbing Mixer
Steve Rogers
Re-recording Mixer
John Hayward
Cast
Toyah Willcox
Barbara Gifford
Victor Spinetti
Cyril Wise
Peter Polycarpou
Phil Green
Thora Hird
Julie's grandmother
James Grout
Mr Watkins
Mike Berry
Mac MacDonald
Tina Russell
Julie Carr
Ben Richards
Mike Williams
Tim Wallers
Adam Schneider
Cameron Blakely
big rocker
The Cadillacs
Billy Boyd
Jimmy Campbell
David Habbin
John Wood
Chris O'Neill
Tony Henderson
Matt Rayner
Roy Holgate
Alan Ruscoe
jailhouse barman
Roy Brandon
Ritchie Crabtree
Liam Byatt
jailhouse boy
Sarah Hadland
Alison Roberts
girls on stage
Linzi Hateley
Polly Winter
Paul Besterman
Freddy Fanzini
Sarah Buckley
waitress
Scott Fleming
Dave
William Adams
Ian
Adam Astill
Gus
Helen Baker
Shirley
Alexis Caley
Pat
Julie Johnston
Jenny
Jacqueline Kennedy
Sue
Lucy Williamson
Cindy
Roger Alborough
Joe Tex
Moya Ruskin
Mandi Spring
Murray Woodfield
floor manager
Guy Picot
Star sound engineer
Laurence Harrington
Mr Jockle
Robin Kermode
Mr Philips
Peter Lindford
Mr Gray
Chris Brown
Peter Dale
Neil Garrity
Gary Harmon
jailhouse four
Ben Heaf
Regent engineer
Dicky Howitt
Paul Marshall
tv cameramen
Irene Sharp
restaurant cleaner
Tom Forsyth
waiter
Lucy McKinnon
waitress
Noel Hawkins
Mr Hayman
Lyndi Oliver
Mrs Hayman
John McAndrew
Reg Gifford
Bret Jones
rock show ASM
Jeff Sayers
cameraman
Dick Bates
Brian Blakey
commissionaires
Alan Nicholas
John Wallace
Jeff Williams
rock show musicians
Brierly Arnell
Vicci Avery
Liana Bridges
Dan Bruce
Peter Collins
Tara Cookson
Lucy Cullinan
Liz Curnick
Sophie Louise Dan
Jeremy Devall
Michael Diamond
Tim Fulstow
Steve Gallagher
Luke Hope
Jane Horn
Sharon Kiel
Alicia Rodriguez
Joanna Rowden
Ross Sando
Hayley Spencer
Stephen Tremblay
coffee bar crowd
Irina Aggrey
Suzanne Bullock
Andrea Chamberlain
Gavin Hatcher
Danny Hosier
Sara Jeffery
Melody Jones
Leylar Pellegrini
Lynsey Rankine
Richard Reynard
Judith Rogers
Gunther Smitz
television dancers
Certificate
PG
Distributor
Capricorn Communications Ltd
9,600 feet
106 minutes 40 seconds
Dolby digital
In Colour
Last Updated: 20 Dec 2011