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I Wanna Hold Your Hand Criterion Blu-ray Review


“I Wanna Hold Your Hand” is an underrated gem.

Fueled by a Beatles soundtrack, “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” is a fictionalized ensemble piece set on Feb. 8 and Feb. 9, 1964 (the night The Beatles performed on “The Ed Sullivan Show”). The story revolves around a group of teen fans (and a couple haters) from New Jersey who venture to New York to try and see or meet The Beatles. There’s the Paul McCartney obsessed Rosie, the soon to be married Pam, The Beatles boycotting Janis, a greaser named Tony who hates The Beatles but has feelings for Janis, a photographer (Grace) who wants to snap photos of The Beatles and Larry (a driver with his dad’s car). Upon arriving in NY, a couple more characters enter the picture including a super fan named Richard and a young boy (Peter) who has tickets to “The Ed Sullivan Show” but must get a haircut in order to attend the show. The bulk of the story is comprised of the group’s wacky adventures that include everything from sneaking into the hotel The Beatles are staying at and trying to score tickets to “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

As a fan of The Beatles and Robert Zemeckis, I’m amazed I had yet to see 1978’s “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.” Thanks to this new Criterion Blu-ray release, however, I was finally able to experience this film and I’m happy to report it was a joyous madcap comedy. The film (which was directed by Robert Zemeckis and written by Zemeckis and Bob Gale) is clearly heavily influenced by the likes of “American Graffiti,” but it’s no carbon copy as it tells its own frantic and unique tale about Beatlemania, fandom, nostalgia, and the night a cultural milestone took place in the U.S. In fact, the movie has a much different tone in general as it comes across as more of a slapstick comedy in parts. Granted, it does have a rather 70’s teen movie feel period at times, but it’s also old fashioned as well.

The entire cast has great chemistry together, but there are a few stand-outs in my eye. First of all, it’s great to see Eddie Deezen here in a bigger role as Richard/Ringo. He steals the show and seems to be having a blast letting loose. Nancy Allen shines as the character who perhaps has the biggest arc here with Pam. Theresa Saldana (who is perhaps best known for starring in “Raging Bull” a mere 2 years later) lights up the screen as the determined and selfish photographer Grace.


Presentation: 1.85:1 1080p. How does it look? The 4K digital restoration offers up a clean transfer of the film.

Audio Track: 5.1 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? The screams and shouts of hysterical Beatles fans have never sounded better than with this 5.1 track.

* A trailer and 6 radio spots.
* New interviews with Nancy Allen and Marc McClure. This extra runs 22 minutes.
* A newly recorded 42 minute discussion between Bob Gale, Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg. The three reminisce and talk about how their collaborations, how “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” came about, the making of ‘Hand,’ and more. Great extra.

* A booklet featuring photos, credits and an essay by film critic Scott Tobias.
* 2 USC short films by Robert Zemeckis titled “The Lift” and “A Field Of Honor.”
* A dry but informative 2004 commentary by Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis. Honestly, the conversation with Spielberg is much more insightful.

March 16, 2019 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , ,

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