As the space shuttle Endeavour prepares to make its final launch this week, it seems like a good time to look back to a bygone era of space travel, when British rock and roll bands could come tour America and have a NASA rocket named after them. At least, that’s the way Hold On! would have us remember the ’60s with this screwball adventure starring Herman’s Hermits.
Peter Noone stars as Herman, his persona in his real life band Herman’s Hermits. A contemporary group of their fellow Englishmen The Beatles, Herman’s Hermits never were ashamed to put on a goofy spectacle in the name of fun and, undoubtedly, of promoting their music. Hold On! was their second motion picture and would be followed by two more, all consisting primarily of musical performances strung together with silly plots. It is a movie format that worked well for The Beatles, and it served Herman’s Hermits well through the ’60s.
Hold On! begins with American schoolkids voting to name NASA’s newest rocket after Herman’s Hermits. Officials, rightly fearing a Noone-inspired second Revolutionary War, worry about the implications of naming an American rocket after a British rock band. They decide to address the issue head-on in the only logical way: they assign scientist Edward Lindquist (Herbert Anderson) to stalk the band on their American tour in order to determine whether they are decent lads or whether Paul Revere should go ahead and saddle up the ponies. Lindquist bumbles through his job, providing the requisite conflict that really just gives Peter Noone and the boys excuses to sing song after song.
Herman’s Hermits have ten songs on the soundtrack, and Shelley Fabares contributes one additional tune. In all, the movie is a syrupy sweet production that won’t offer much to anyone looking for an actual story. It is good fun for fans of the band and of the music, though, and it’s finally arriving on DVD this month, courtesy of the Warner Archive.