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Universal Studios Home Video presents
I Wanna Hold Your Hand (1978)

"So, I want you to be prepared for excessive screaming, hysteria, hyperventilation, fainting, fits, seizures, spasmodic convulsions, even attempted suicides. All perfectly normal. It merely means these youngsters are enjoying themselves."
- Ed Sullivan (Will Jordan)

Review By: Mark Zimmer  
Published: September 26, 2004

Stars: Nancy Allen, Bobby DiCicco, Marc McClure, Susan Kendall Newman, Theresa Saldana, Wendie Jo Sperber, Eddie Deezen, Christian Juttner
Other Stars: Will Jordan, Dick Miller, Murray the "K", Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr
Director: Robert Zemeckis

Manufacturer: Deluxe
MPAA Rating: PG for (language, teenage prostitution)
Run Time: 01h:38m:50s
Release Date: September 28, 2004
UPC: 025192543821
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

I am able to date my earliest memory precisely: February 9, 1964. At the age of 3, the first appearance of the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show was a huge event and I remember much of the family crowding around the little black-and-white television to see these four Liverpudlians do their thing, completely drowned out by the screaming girls in the audience. This fun picture takes an affectionate and somewhat slapstick look at the phenomenon of Beatlemania as it sprang into being on that fateful weekend.

Three girls from New Jersey, Pam Mitchell (Nancy Allen), Grace Corrigan (Theresa Saldana) and Rosie Petrofsky (Wendie Jo Sperber) are obsessed with the Beatles and decide to go to New York to try to sneak into the Beatles' hotel. Accompanied by crude hoodlum Tony Smerko (Bibby DiCicco), Beatles hater Janis Goldman (Susan Kendall Newman) and their driver (despite lacking a license), Larry DuBois (Marc McClure). The group splits up and tries several different plans of attack that have varying degrees of success. When the time for the show itself draws near, they try to score tickets to the program by any means necessary.

This film was not only written by Robert Zemeckis, but constituted his directorial debut. For some reason, the picture was a dismal failure, perhaps because it was just too painfully close to the breakup of the Beatles. But from a distance of 40 years, it has a wonderful charm that makes it a delight. It's frequently very funny, with a fair amount of pure slapstick and Three Stooges routines given new life by being reenacted by three (supposedly) teenage girls. Zemeckis keeps everything moving relentlessly, so that one never has an opportunity to get bored.

Nancy Allen is quite credible as a teenager, even though she was 27 at the time of filming. She has some great moments, including the memorable sequence where she actually gets into the Beatles' hotel room and erotically caresses Paul's bass guitar. Her character is supposed to be eloping, and she gives a nicely conflicted performance over assuming adult responsibilities and wanting to still be a teen having fun. The supporting cast is good, if not quite as finely drawn. Eddie Deezen is entertaining as a hugely obsessive Beatles collector, first seen ripping up the carpet where they've just walked. Impressionist Will Jordan does a decent Ed Sullivan, though he makes the host look even weirder than he actually was, which is quite an accomplishment. Disc jockey and promoter Murray the "K" makes appearances as himself, but the actual Beatles only appear in period footage.

The attention to period detail is nearly overwhelming. The only issue I saw was the crowds don't seem to be quite large enough, probably a function of the budget. The picture has one of the most memorable scores of all time, with well over a dozen Beatles tunes being given prominent play throughout. Between the music and the comedy, this is a pure winner all the way.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The source print of this anamorphic widescreen picture is immaculate, with no damage to be seen. Color is quite vivid and black levels are solid. Fine detail and textures are readily visible throughout, despite a little bit of softness (probably used in part to help disguise Allen's age). The temptation to add edge enhancement seems to have been resisted in making the transfer, though a couple high contrast moments do exhibit ringing, which is the sole defect visible.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The 5.1 remix is quite well done, with plenty of use of surrounds to put the viewer right in the middle of the screaming thousands. The front soundstage is very broad, and the Beatles' music sounds absolutely terrific, with excellent range that seems better than my LPs of the Fab Four. Hiss and noise are only occasionally noticeable and are never distracting.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director/writer Robert Zemeckis and writer Bob Gale
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Photo gallery
Extras Review: The principal extra is a full-length commentary from Zemeckis and writer Bob Gale. Gale tends to dominate the discussions, but their recollections are clear and they never resort to narration. They point out plenty of injokes and note the technical advances that were made in this film, including perfect synching of video and film rates, which was certainly important for a film that's filled with video imagery. It's a highly informative and frequently amusing commentary that is a model of the art. The only other supplement is a photo gallery of a little over two dozen black-and-white stills.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

Relive the earliest days of Beatlemania in this rollicking comedy that just never stops. The transfer is excellent and the commentary is informative to boot.


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