It’s All Happening (1963) – Film Review
Director: Don Sharp
Cast: Tommy Steele, Bernard Bresslaw, Angela Douglas
by Sarah Morgan
The first record my dad ever bought was ‘Little White Bull’ by Tommy Steele. He knows all the words, a fact he probably hid through sheer shame during his prog rock-loving years in the 1970s.
Like my dad’s admiration for the toothy singer, Steele’s music hasn’t stood the test of time. He burst onto the music scene in the 1950s and was Britain’s first rock ’n’ roll star, our answer to Elvis Presley, until Cliff Richard appeared. Unlike Cliff he eventually had to diversify into other arenas, becoming a fairly well-respected actor and sculptor, of all things.
When It’s All Happening was released in 1963, Steele’s career as a pop star didn’t have much longer to live – he was about to overshadowed first by The Beatles, then by the rest of the Merseybeat sound, The Who and The Rolling Stones. You certainly can’t imagine the latter two thinking it would be great for their hard-nosed image to appear in such saccharine stuff.
Steele plays Billy, a lowly recording studio worker and all-round good egg who has a kind word for everybody. But is Billy too good to be true? What does he do when he disappears every Sunday afternoon? His girlfriend Julie begins to wonder if he’s got a secret wife hidden away somewhere.
Of course, her fears are soon dispelled – golden boy Bill visits the orphanage where he was brought up to bring joy to the youngsters; he doesn’t want to tell Julie because he fears her wealthy father wouldn’t want her to settle down with someone who has no breeding.
With the orphanage struggling to pay its rent, Billy organises a fundraising gig. An attempt at tension is added when the star acts fail to show, forcing him to show off his own singing skills. But obviously it all works out in the end – and honestly, that’s not a spoiler. If you don’t see that coming, there’s something very wrong indeed.
The songs are instantly forgettable, but it’s intriguing to see the likes of John Barry and Geoff Love in action, while excellent support comes from the woefully underused Angela Douglas as Julie and the always reliable Michael Medwin as Billy’s boss. Watch out too for Bernard Bresslaw as a bumbling private eye.
It’s hard to imagine who would find It’s All Happening appealing in these cynical times. Perhaps young children or those who still remember Steele in his heyday. But not my dad – Jethro Tull not white bulls are more his scene these days.
‘It’s All Happening’ is released on Blu-ray by Network, £11.50