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Film / I Wanna Hold Your Hand

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"I want you to be prepared for excessive screaming, hysteria, hyperventilating, fainting, fits, seizures, spasmodic convulsions, even attempted suicides; it's all perfectly normal. It merely means that these youngsters are enjoying themselves."
Ed Sullivan, in the intro note 

I Wanna Hold Your Hand is a 1978 coming-of-age comedy film that marks the directorial debut of Robert Zemeckis, as well as Steven Spielberg's first movie as an executive producer. The cast includes Nancy Allen, Bobby Di Cicco, Marc McClure, Susan Kendall Newman, Theresa Saldana, Wendie Jo Sperber, and Eddie Deezen.

It's February 9th, 1964, and The Beatles are bringing the fever of Beatlemania to the United States for the first time. Specifically, it's the band's debut on The Ed Sullivan Show, and they're about to be greeted with a history-making reception in America (and potentially go deaf from their newfound fanbase).

This movie follows a group of teenagers—hysterical fangirl Rosie (Sperber), recently-engaged Pam (Allen), aspiring photographer Grace (Saldana), Beatle-hater Janis (Newman), obnoxious bully Tony (Di Cicco), and Larry (McClure), who's driving—as they travel from Maplewood, New Jersey into Manhattan on their quest to see the Fab Four in person, both for their appearance at the Ed Sullivan Theater and at the hotel where they're staying. Upon arriving in the city, they have to contend with a rabid crowd of Beatlemaniacs outside the hotel, a ton of security, and Richard (Deezen), a Beatles superfan. Hilarity Ensues.

The soundtrack features many early Beatles hits: "I Want to Hold Your Hand," "Please Please Me," "I Saw Her Standing There," "Twist and Shout," "Money (That's What I Want)," "She Loves You" and much more.

Tropes associated with I Wanna Hol- OH MY GOD!!! OH MY GOD IT'S PAUL!!! I'M GONNA DIE!!!

  • Abusive Parents: In New York, we meet Peter, a young boy with a mop top haircut, but shortly afterward we meet his grouchy, domineering, shaming father who stole Peter's Ed Sullivan tickets from him and won't give them back unless he buzzes off his hair.
  • Actor Allusion: When Tony's trying to pick up the two girls at the diner, one of them says he looks like Paul - not knowing they mean Paul McCartney (which pushes his Berserk Button), he claims to resemble Paul Newman. Susan Kendall Newman, who plays Janis, was Newman's daughter.
  • Been There, Shaped History: At the end, after Grace and Larry failed to get in, the Beatles themselves end up in their car after the show and they get to drive them away.
  • Big Applesauce: By way of Joisey.
  • Broad Strokes:
    • The band are depicted as the last act of the night, with the sole performance of "She Loves You." In actuality, they performed twice on the show, and played some other songs as well, including "All My Loving," "Till There Was You," "I Saw Her Standing There" and "I Want To Hold Your Hand." This may be a case of Rule of Drama.
    • Ed Sullivan (well, this universe's version of Ed Sullivan) claims he first saw the Beatles perform in England while on a trip with his wife, but in actuality, he first saw their performance on the CBS Evening News. The booking was based on Sullivan seeing the huge reaction to the Beatles at London's Heathrow Airport, which delayed his flight.
  • Celeb Crush: Rosie, Pam and Grace all have this to varying degrees, but Rosie goes hard.
  • Celebrity Paradox: When Ed Sullivan mentions the show that's coming on the following week, among the acts scheduled is Will Jordan, who is playing Sullivan in the movie.
  • Celebrity Resemblance: A Running Gag. The huge crowd at the hotel go nuts at anything that even looks like a mop top hairdo.
  • Crowd Song: The crowd make one up while waiting to catch a glimpse of the band.
  • Cut the Juice: A particularly grandiose example gets ultimately averted. Tony steals a fire axe from the CBS studios, climbs the tower outside and attempts to cut the satellite signal to "end this Beatles bullshit once and for all!" Fortunately, lightning strikes his axe and he falls.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Rosie refuses to get off a hotel elevator with the others because she wants to try and get closer to the Beatles. She's literally caught by security at the next floor up.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Larry.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Larry on his way to the theatre near the end, with a terrified Grace in tow.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Poor Larry does this after Grace runs off to impersonate an escort.
  • Expy: Each of the four girls shares the first letter of their first name with one of the Beatles, and has a personality that corresponds loosely to that Beatle's public persona:
    • Pam = Paul (according to the authors' outline, both are "together and cute")
    • Janis = John ("worldly, cynical")
    • Grace = George ("quiet and serious")
    • Rosie = Ringo ("clutzy and short")
  • The Faceless: In person, the Beatles' faces are never clearly seen except through real footage. Only their feet and the backs of their heads are.
  • Fangirls: And some Fanboys, like Peter!
  • Foreign Culture Fetish: Rosie, because the Beatles are British.
  • Groupie Brigade: As is typical in any portrayal of Beatlemania, but this movie plays it up to the point of it being a Running Gag.
  • Hatedom: In-universe example. A Beatles backlash gets some time in the plot, most often through Janis and Tony.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Janis finally warms up to the phenomenon in the latter half.
  • Hipster: Janet is a 60s version of this.
  • Innocent Innuendo: The scene where Grace is forced to hide in a hotel room closet, and hears a man and a female escort giggling and moaning. By the time she gets out, she finds her rubbing mayonnaise on his bald head.
  • I Take Offence to That Last One: Richard, when he and Rosie are confronted by a cop.
    Sergeant Brenner: Now I got you, you little shithead!
    Richard: Who are you calling "little?"
  • It's Popular, Now It Sucks!: Invoked. Rosie accuses Janet of being this kind of person.
  • Jerkass: Tony is a lecherous, bullying, spiteful, lunkheaded prick. In his first scene, he invites himself on the trip by jumping from his buddies' car to theirs, then steals Larry's wallet and rifles through it.
    • Also, Peter's stern, old-fashioned dad, who insists on cutting Peter's hair to "look like a marine."
    • Pam's fiance, Eddie, turns out to be a grouchy stick-in-the-mud, and Pam calls the engagement off before the show.
  • The Oldest Profession: Grace attempts this, in a last ditch effort to get money for the tickets. It doesn't exactly work out as planned.
  • Otaku: Richard, to ridiculous levels.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The main cast, of course, most of whom are obviously great friends (besides Tony), but all of whom have radically different ways of dealing with the stress of New York, and the madness that is Beatlemania.
  • Serious Business: All things Beatles, especially to Rosie and Richard.
  • Shout-Out: So many Beatles references. An old lady complains in an elevator to Rosie that fans are behaving "all helter skelter."
    • Hell, one of the main characters is named Pam. As in, "Polythene Pam".
    • An old man requests an escort to come to his room. What room? 909.
    • Security fending off angry Beatlemaniacs during a scuffle with Janet in the street: "Get back! GET BACK!!"
  • Slapstick: There's a lot of chases and tumbling over things in this movie. Rosie is usually involved.
  • Squee: The Movie.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Non-romantic example... maybe. While Rosie is a screaming fangirl, Richard is absolutely obsessed. He even set up a Stalker Shrine in the hotel. And it's not even his room!
  • "Stop Having Fun" Girl: Janet, whenever she goes on her anti-Beatle tirades. She even interrupts an ENG report on the street to yell "Exterminate the Beatles!"
  • The Vamp: Grace pulls this trope to get Larry to drive them all to New York. And almost does it again to impersonate a female escort.
  • We Need a Distraction: Takes two tries at this to get the tickets away from Peter's dad.