In 1973 and 1974 David Essex starred in two films that told the story of Jimmy Maclaine , a young man who found himself in music, and what music took from him. The films appear not to be available in the US, and I ended up picking up the UK release (see picture) because I really wanted to see Stardust again, seeing as it stayed with me since I had seen it many years ago on cable TV. Since the films play better if you see them in tandem, that's how I'm reviewing them.
That'll Be The Day (1973)
David Essex stars in the first of two films about Jimmy Maclaine, a young man who wants to be a rock star. Here we follow Maclaine as his father comes home from the war, then leaves his family. Maclaine grows up, running away from home as a teen to make his future in the world, first by the sea, then at a holiday camp, and finally in a carnival. Eventually he returns home to start his own family. A slice of life film in late 1950's/early 1960's as rock music was shaking everything up and the post war kids were looking for a way out. I had always heard this was the better of the two Maclaine films (Stardust being the second), but I wasn't really impressed. For whatever reason I couldn't really connect with what was happening on screen. Perhaps I was waiting for something that the film isn't; the sequel charts Maclaine's rise and fall as a pop star, so I was waiting for a music film instead of a family drama and character study (come on you have Ringo Starr, Keith Moon and Dave Edmunds in the cast don't you think it'll be a music film?). On some level it made watching the sequel better, but ultimately it wasn't something I need to see again. You may feel differently since the film isn't bad, just one that I didn't connect to.
Follow up to That'll Be The Day has Jimmy Maclaine starting a band called the Stray Cats, rising to international success, and then having it all go away. I originally saw this on HBO back in the late 1970's/early 1980's and it hung with me ever since. Until I saw the film again I couldn't tell you anything about it other than it had to do with a reclusive rock star. Seeing it again I find that it's a good film, but I'm at a loss as to explain why I recall seeing it. A much better film than the one that preceded it, the story of a band that comes together and breaks up is one I could relate to. I find that even the drama that carries over from the first film plays better here and less like a soap opera, though now having seen the first film I find that having the backstory does help clarify some things. I like the film and I'm glad that some 25 years on I got to see it again. I don't know if I need to see it any more, but it is a neat little time capsule and a reflection of the music scene at a specific time and place (and more timeless since the way groups and their leaders come together and break apart will always happen in ways close to this). Worth a look.