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Film / Summer Holiday

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Summer Holiday is a 1963 British musical comedy starring Cliff Richard, fresh off his success in another popular 1960s' musical The Young Ones, and Lauri Peters. It was the directorial debut of Peter Yates and spawned many hit songs that have overshadowed the movie itself performed by Richard and 1960s' band The Shadows.

Cliff Richard stars as Don, who manages to hire a London bus for a trip to sunny Europe as the nearby beach is battered by heavy rainfall. He and his friends Cyril (Melvyn Hayes), Steve (Teddy Green), and Edwin (Jeremy Bulloch), with the help of other workers at the bus mechanic base, spend the week refurbishing the bus into a hotel, and the four friends drive off to France.

The boys start to pick up a variety of people on their trip, including three women who are touring singers, named Angie (Pamela Hart), Sandy (Una Stubbs), and Mimsie (Jacqueline Daryl), hoping to get to Greece, a singer named Barbara (Peters) dressed as a young man, as well as her talent agent Jerry (Lionel Murton) and her mother Stella (Madge Ryan), and the group have a wild time journeying through a variety of countries. And Ron Moody shows up too.

Hilarity Ensues.


  • Accidental Proposal: Don asks a Yugoslavian woman whether she knew where he and his friends could buy bread. He later finds out that he said the word for "bride" when he's standing at the altar surrounded by other villagers.
  • The Alleged Car: The Doh-Re-Mi car. The steering wheel is easily pulled off and the car eventually falls apart.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Sandy (dark-haired), Angie (redheaded), and Mimsie (blonde).
  • BSoD Song: "The Next Time".
  • Carpet of Virility: Don (Cliff Richard was known for his).
  • Car Song: "Stanley Steamer"
  • Cool Car: Jerry's car.
  • Creator Cameo: The Shadows appear as a background band in a French nightclub.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Don, Stella, and notably Stella's maid.
    • Barbara is found out to not be a boy when her clown costume falls off, leaving her in her underwear. Orlando says (within Don's earshot):
      Orlando: Call us anytime if you want to join us on the tour, eh? That's a perfect imitation of a girl.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The beginning of the movie is filmed in monochrome to emphasise how wild and rainy the weather is at the beach. The rest of the movie is in colour.
  • Disguised in Drag: Barbara, who pretends to be a fourteen-year-old boy named Bobby.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Many of Don's friends during the "Stranger In Town" number as the group are in France.
  • Eiffel Tower Effect: Downplayed, for a movie about a road trip across Europe. Paris is the gang's first stop, where surprisingly we don't see the Eiffel Tower, but we do see the Arc de Triomphe. After that, they don't take in any other famous landmarks until the final act when Cliff sings "The Next Time" on a hilltop overlooking the Parthenon.
  • Ethnic Menial Labor: Stella's maid.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Only Angie refers to Don as "Donald".
  • Fourth-Date Marriage: Don is quick to propose to Barbara, even though she lied twice to him about her true identity and talked to her as herself for barely a week. When she warns him about how famous she is, he refuses to hear it because their love is strong.
  • Friends with Benefits: "A Swingin' Affair" is about this when Don and Barbara refuse to get together, suggesting that they do the romantic things lovers do without emotional attachments. It doesn't last very long, though, when Don declares his love for Barbara at a dance hours later; the song already implies the lack of weight to the plan at the very end.
    Ours will be a ring-a-ding-ding,
    Just for kicks, we fivenote  will have our fling
    And we'll pretend we are not aware
    This is more, so much more, than a swinging affair
  • Gospel Revival Number: At the end, a non-diegetic choir sing "Summer Holiday".
  • Horrible Camping Trip: Everything was going well until Barbara phoned her mother. Now, the bus is getting stuck up hills, stopped for checks by border security, and all sorts of disasters. It doesn't seem to break the group's spirit, although Don gets suspicious.
  • Love Confession: During a dance in Switzerland, Don pulls Barbara aside and tells her that he loves her and means it. She replies that she's loved him "ever since I was a little boy".
  • Mistaken for Special Guest: Invoked. The group is arrested for potentially driving without a licence (albeit set up by Stella to stop Barbara from travelling further into central Europe), but Orlando manages to convince the judge that Don and his friends are part of his travelling act and they are forced to perform for the judge. Through an on-set accident, a bomb blows the courtroom up.
  • The Music Meister: Don, which is fitting because Cliff Richard is in the role.
  • Musical Chores: "Seven Days to a Holiday".
  • National Stereotypes: Subverted. Even the rich American characters (clearly stereotypes of Hollywood socialites) aren't exaggerated to the point of mocking them at their expense.
  • No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: invoked Barbara's agent is thrilled that Barbara has been written as kidnapped in the newspapers and convinces Stella that it can be milked into Barbara becoming famous enough to be walking the red carpet of the Academy Awards.
  • Overreacting Airport Security: Both in France and Yugoslavia, but not by airport security. The Yugoslavian border patrol frogmarches everyone off the bus and searches them, but then wave them off as if nothing happened.
  • Parasol of Pain: During "Stranger In Town", Don upsets many French women, including nuns, who chase him down a country lane with umbrellas and brooms.
  • Pep-Talk Song: "Bachelor Boy" and "Stranger In Town".
  • Phone-Trace Race: Barbara's phone call in France is ordered to be traced by Stella. Her maid finds out practically everything.
  • Punny Name: Mimsie, Sandy, and Angie's singing act is said to be called "Doh-Re-Mi".
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The London bus is soon filled with a magician and his entourage and singers (one in drag).
  • Road-Sign Reversal: Stella forces Jerry to edit a French sign so that the London bus is stuck up a mountain.
  • Rule of Pool: Don, chased by unimpressed French women during "Stranger In Town", ends up falling in the pond.
  • "Setting Off" Song: "Summer Holiday".
  • Shirtless Scene: Don asks "Bobby" to help him out of the shower. "Bobby" awkwardly helps him by trying to give him some privacy but he is constantly insistent that he should be close to "him". After all, they're both male, right?
  • Spontaneous Choreography: Throughout the movie.
  • Stage Magician: Orlando.
  • Stage Mom: Stella is an aversion. Although she appears to care about her daughter's fortune, she cares about her daughter's wellbeing. She even gives consent for Barbara to marry Don, even though she was convinced that he kidnapped her.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Don.
  • Team Dad: Don, who seems to be the only man concerned about "Bobby's" safety.
  • Team Pet: A dog is picked up on a Swiss mountain.
  • That Reminds Me of a Song: Don is convinced by his friends to sing a song to a Yugoslavian woman to cheer her up. Don sings "Dancing Shoes" and win her over.
  • Third-Act Misunderstanding: Barbara doesn't tell Don (or anyone else on the bus) that she's a world-famous singer. The group discovers her in a broadsheet when they arrive in Greece and Don is soon arrested for kidnapping her. He isn't convinced when she denies that she played a part in her mother's plan. He soon forgives her and proposes.
  • Those Two Guys: Cyril, Edwin, and Steve.
  • Translation by Volume: Occurs a few times, particularly when the boys try to speak to a Yugoslavian woman.
  • Uptown Girl: Barbara, as it turns out.
  • Vaudeville: Orlando's style of comedy, mixed with pantomime, complete with slapstick, Wardrobe Malfunctions, and other Silent Movie jokes.
  • Verbal Backspace: Cyril was prepared to bitch at the women for being terrible drivers, but is stunned into stammering when he discovers that they're beautiful young women.
  • We Need a Distraction: The boys are subjected to an unintentional marriage, so they decide to start a Yugoslavian dance to distract everyone. They eventually get away.