Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter (1968)
I was channel surfing a while back when I stumbled across Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter, a feature film starring none other than Herman's Hermits! Now I was aware that after the success of the Fab Four's A Hard Day’s Night and Help, several popular bands tried to follow in their wake. The Dave Clark Five made Catch Us If You Can (directed by John Boorman) and there were numerous vehicles for Cliff Richard. But apparently, Herman's Hermits were signed to MGM records in the US and it was standard marketing practice to make at least one feature film vehicle for their bestselling artists. Apparently, this included Hank Williams, Connie Francis and Roy Orbison although I’m not familiar with the movies they made. Hence there’s nothing really that unusual about this film’s existence.
So on to the plot. When Herman Tulley inherits his Grandfather's most prized possession, a greyhound named Mrs. Brown, he and his friends (Barry, Keith, Karl, and Derek) decide to make their fortune racing the dog. After the animal has won the Manchester heat of the National Greyhound Derby, Herman meets wealthy Londoners Mr. and Mrs. Brown and their daughter Judy, a model. Hoping to see Judy again, Herman and his friends decide to take the dog to London for the derby finals and to see if they can find fame with their band. Hijinks, misadventures and sundry shenanigans promptly ensue, along with a handful of contrived song and dance numbers. You know the form.
Sounds harmless enough, doesn't it? Well so you would think. But the plot doesn't follow the usual path you'd expect from such films. The hero doesn't get the girl of his dreams at the end. The dog doesn't win the race it's been entered for. The guys do not find fame with their band. The songs are very eclectic, with one, "The World Is for the Young" verging on suicidal melancholy. There are also some seriously outdated social attitudes displayed, particularly towards women. A young lady is told that if she doesn't stop following them (the band) she'll get "sloshed". When Herman's girlfriend expresses and interest in accompanying them to London, she is told that it's fine as long as she doesn't mind "Cooking and cleaning for five guys". There is also a lot of violent pub brawls and market fights that seem out of step with the rest of the film.
Frankly, this film really threw me. It's just so bizarre and incongruous. The concept of using a film to promote a band seems to have died out these days. I'm sure this comes down to simple financial costs and the fragmentation of the music industry. The last movie of this ilk that I’m familiar with being Spice World and that was an event for the time. Overall, Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter is not a complete dog’s dinner. It’s more of a curiosity than an outright failure, right up there with Slade in Flame. It’s lack of the inherent “chumminess” you expect with sixties pop is its main selling point. Best recommended to completist music fans and hardcore cinema aficionados. File under "Right turn, Clyde".