Dreamboats, Boybands and the Perils of Showbiz: Pop and Film, 1956-1968

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, almost every emerging pop star was expected to make at least one fictional feature film. In this essay, I consider the wider context of pop films during this period, and focus on several well-known examples: three films featuring Elvis Presley (Loving You, Jailhouse Rock and King Creole) and two with Cliff Richard (The Young Ones and Summer Holiday); the first two Beatles films, A Hard Day’s Night and Help!; as well as Catch Us If You Can (featuring the Dave Clark Five) and Head, a later film starring the American band the Monkees. I explore the ambivalent ways in which these films represent youth and youth culture; and I consider how they deal with the media and the music business, and address the process of representation itself.

You can download the whole essay (without illustrations) by clicking here, or if you want to read the illustrated version, click on the subheadings to read the different sections:

  1. Introduction
  2. Elvis on film, 1956-58
  3. Cliff Richard: a clean teen?
  4. Constructing ‘the Beatles’
  5. Catch Us If You Can
  6. The Monkees in Head; conclusion
  7. Sources and references