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Film / Melody (S.W.A.L.K.)

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Daniel & Melody (and Ornshaw, there behind the apple).

Melody, also known as S.W.A.L.K. (which stands for "Sealed With A Loving Kiss") is an original British tween Romantic Comedy with a side of Bromantic Comedy released in 1971. Mark Lester and Jack Wild, most commonly remembered for their previous work together in the 1968 film adaptation of Oliver! play a very similar dynamic in a very different setting as Daniel Latimer and his friend Ornshaw attending a typical British school in The '70s. First formally introduced to each other when Ornshaw hitches a ride home from the boys' marching brass band with Daniel's mother, the two soon strike up a friendship, with Ornshaw helping Daniel make friends with the rest of the gang at school.

Further complicating this dynamic is Daniel Latimer's meeting and developing a mutual attraction with a girl named Melody Perkins (played by the newcomer Tracy Hyde) even though they're both no more than ten-and-a-half years old. His friends and hers, of course, are somewhat less than approving of this, as are their school's headmaster, schoolmasters, parents, and relatives. Nevertheless, they persevere in their relationship through various mischevious adventures until they finally decide to get married. Ornshaw, though initially miffed at seemingly having been cast aside for Melody, proves to be a good sport about the whole affair as he officiates at their wedding which culminates in a massive brawl when the headmaster and his staff along with Daniel's mother come looking to retrieve all the students who went truant mid-afternoon to attend the wedding.

The Bee Gees provided the vast majority of the musical score for this film, but Crosby, Stills, & Nash also provided their "Teach Your Children" as the final song to close out the film. While not widely known in North America, Melody has become quite the classic in most of the rest of the world, and would eventually inspire much of the plot of Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom.

Tropes featured in this film:

  • Adults Are Useless: They certainly seem so here, at least to the children. The headmaster (of questionable competence himself) refers in passing to adults from Danny and Melody's parents' generation as "raving imbeciles" at one point.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Danny and Melody's respective circles of friends do not initially take well to their romance.
  • Almost Kiss: Ornshaw, presiding at the wedding, is just getting to the part about Daniel kissing the bride when the adults attack.
  • Bromantic Comedy: Basically the plot of the first half of the movie.
  • Children Are Innocent: As the headmaster points out, there are still a lot of things Daniel doesn't understand about Melody, "although we've only ourselves to blame for that." Muriel also tells her friends to their amusement that "I always thought kissing would bring babies."
  • Girls Have Cooties: The attitude of most of the students at school and especially Ornshaw, though a girl named Muriel is shown discussing with her friends how you can get to liking kissing with boys once you get used to it.
  • Everyone Meets Everyone: Danny meets Ornshaw in a Boys' Band marching orchestra to which his mother specifically sent him to make some friends, and then Ornshaw vouches for Danny when the other boys at school "catch him spying" on their explosives-making experiments. Then a schoolmistress catches them and one of their friends spying on Melody and her friends in a ballet class...
  • Indirect Kiss: See that apple on the poster? Taking a bite out of the same apple someone else has bitten is considered a symbolic form of kissing, especially in Japan; and yes, it's a very popular movie there.
  • Only One Name: Ornshaw presumably has a given name, but everyone only ever calls him by his family name.
    • He does - Tom. Although it's only spoken once and easily missed.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: While the children's view of the adults as rather dimwitted killjoys does have some validity, the adults are, in fact, just doing their jobs for most of the movie. Also, they do know a lot more than the kids about sexuality, if maybe not so much about romance.
  • Romantic Comedy: the Puppy Love version, taking up most of the second half of the movie.
  • Spiritual Successor: This movie to Oliver! (sort of) and Moonrise Kingdom to this movie.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Those boys sure do love experimenting with making explosives... and blowing up Danny's mother's car at the end.
  • Wedding Smashers: The adults aren't too forgiving of the kids' unauthorized leave of absence to go to Daniel and Melody's wedding.