After losing their job as entertainers on a luxury cruise ship, Johnny (Cliff Richard) and his backing band (The Shadows) are cast away by the ship’s crew on a raft, with their two pals Jerry (Melvyn Hayes) and Edward (Richard O’Sullivan).
Using guitars as paddles, they reach dry land, which turns out to be the Canary Islands.
As they trudge across a desert searching for a banana plantation that might employ them, they encounter a film crew on location.
After ruining a take, Johnny is hired as a stuntman in the production of Daughter Of The Sheik – a tale of a sheikh’s daughter and the legionnaire who loves her – to stand in for the middle-aged leading man Douglas Leslie (Derek Bond) who is finding the very active role far beyond his years.
Johnny accepts the job provided that his six friends are also given work. Thus The Shadows are hired to play mood music on the set, and Jerry and Edward bustle around with a tea wagon.
Johnny’s subsequent friendship with timid leading lady Jenny Taylor (Susan Hampshire) has a dramatic effect. With the aid of the friendly continuity girl Barbara (Una Stubbs), the gang decide to rescue the leading lady from tyrannical Otto Preminger-esque director Lloyd Davis (Walter Slezak) and make their own, secret version of Daughter Of The Sheik that will do full justice to Jenny’s acting ability.
They are not deterred by the fact that neither Jenny nor Mr Davis must know what’s going on. This fantastic undertaking involves employing hidden cameras to film the key scenes and – so that Johnny can appear as the leading man instead of the uninspiring Douglas – more hidden cameras photograph sessions at which Johnny is pretending to help Jenny rehearse her lines.
When the premiere audience packs a London cinema for the unveiling of The Daughter of The Sheik, Lloyd Davis has an (unexpected) hit on his hands.
Yet the winsome formula continued to rear its sweetly smiling head throughout the decade. Elvis Presley‘s efforts became increasingly embarrassing, but there was enough here from Cliff Richard and The Shadows to suggest they might have enjoyed greater movie success away from the cloying confines of family entertainments such as this one.
A tiny part in the film was given to Miss Israel (Aliza Gur). The highlight, if that’s the right word, is a 15-minute song-and-dance history of the movies, paying tribute to some of the great stars and scenes in film history.
Released in some markets as Swingers Paradise.
Sidney J Furie