I Wanna Hold Your Hand is not a movie about The Beatles. It’s a film about the fans and the frenzy the Fab Four caused on their first visit to the USA – a tribute to Beatlemania and the innocence of the era.
It’s 9 February 1964, and as The Beatles touch down in America for the first time, our young women from New Jersey make their way to Manhattan to try and see them perform live on The Ed Sullivan Show or sneak into their hotel.
Wannabe journalist Grace (Theresa Saldana) is a big fan of the moptops but her pushy friend Rosie (Wendie Jo Sperber) is bordering on psychotic about the band.
They are joined in their adventure by Janis (Paul Newman’s daughter, Susan Kendall Newman), who prefers folk music to rock & roll (she’s going along just to put up a folkie protest) and Pam (Nancy Allen), only a casual fan, more excited about her upcoming marriage.
They have an idea to rent a limo and try to drive The Beatles to the show, but they settle for a hearse, driven by their shy friend, undertaker’s son, Larry (Marc McClure).
Along the way, they also pick up the cynical tough kid, Tony (Bobby Di Cicco), who could care less about The Beatles but is keen on bedding the girls.
The gang get split up and end up in adventures and compromising positions around The Beatles’ hotel and The Ed Sullivan Theater.
Rosie meets her male equal in obnoxious Beatles obsession, the hotel’s bellboy, Richard “Ringo” Klaus (Eddie Deezen). Deezen’s awkward goofball schtick – a sort of higher energy, less intelligent version of young Woody Allen – would be used to great effect in Grease as Eugene and then as Herbie in 1941 before he would disappear into less memorable junk like Zapped! and Grease 2.
The Beatles (real or fictional) don’t actually appear in the film, although there are glimpses of their backs, knees, pointy-toed boots and shadows – and some of their songs.
This was the first film produced by Steven Spielberg. Wanting to help rookie director Robert Zemeckis, he took the script to Universal Studios, which agreed to make the movie if Spielberg would be executive producer.
The production had to reconstruct the famous Plaza Hotel exterior on a backlot in Burbank after the hotel declined to endure a week with a thousand screaming extras outside their entrance.
Bobby Di Cicco
Susan Kendall Newman
Wendie Jo Sperber
Richard ‘Ringo’ Klaus
Claude Earl Jones