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on 11 May 2008
For any true Rock 'n' Roll fan and any former members of the growing-up cultures of the Fifties and Sixties...Seventies too, you just can't let these two get away - "That'll Be The Day" and it's sequel, "Stardust".

It's a fabulous roller-coaster ride that isn't just limited to the fairground, depicting the social and musical changes of life in 1950's Britain as seen through the eyes of the young man who turns out to be 'the minstrel of a generation' - Jim Maclaine...very amicably portrayed by teen Pop idol (at the time!), David Essex. Infact, it was Mr. Essex who was nominated for the Best Newcomer BAFTA along with Rosemary Leach as Best Supporting Actress in the role of his long-suffering Mother. A stellar cast including Robert Lindsay, Billy Fury, Keith Moon, Rosalind Ayres, James Booth, Karl Howman, Deborah Watling, and a brilliantly-acted performance by Ringo Starr add to the delight of this classic virtually rags-to-riches story of teenage angst and ambition. Jim Maclaine is a clever young man, but forsakes a prospective well-educated career for a life-changing journey on the back of a truck that drops him off at the seaside...and so part one of the odyssey begins. The film unfolds to the hit-making sounds of the late 50's which are a big influence on Maclaine's journey through adolescence away from the bosom of his family. He experiences all he is able to experience over a two-year period, then one day has a sudden change of heart...but does his heart really change that much?

The brilliant sequel, "Stardust" begins the continuing saga of Jim Maclaine's life from 1963 onwards and once again we are introduced to more cultural, and musical, changes and influences of life in the fast lane. David Essex reprises his role as the wayward hero but it's the teen idol from another time, Adam Faith who steals the show as Mike Menary - a shifty wheeler-dealer along with "Dallas" star, Larry 'J.R.' Hagman. It was Mr. Faith who got the BAFTA nomination for Best Supporting Actor, but the film itself won the Writer's Guild Award for Best Original British Screenplay which went to the writer of both films, Ray Connolly.

"Stardust" is the dark illustration of interchanging trends, attitudes and politics within the music business which combines the family and friendship aspects of the previous story. It is a classic tale of a bittersweet dream...and a sour nightmare. A great soundtrack is once again prominent throughout, along with another great cast which also includes Paul Nicholas, Ines Des Longchamps, Dave Edmunds, Marty Wilde, Peter Duncan, James Hazeldine, along with Keith Moon, Rosalind Ayres and Karl Howman reprising their roles.

This is a great must-buy DVD set as your practically getting both films for the price of one. Fabulous!
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on 16 March 2008
A real classic from 1973 shows David Essex as a young Jimmy MacLaine and shows his life growing up. He leaves home and works on a pleasure beach then fair ground. This is a classic and has many starts which were not fully recognised back then, included are people like Karl Howman, Dave Edmunds, Ringo Starr, Keith Moon, Adam Faith, Peter Duncan, Larry Hagman and many more.
The first disk "That'll Be The Day" is the first part of the double feature where the second is Stardust which shows his life when he turns pop star.
If you haven't seen this then go out and buy or rent it, you wont regret it.
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on 3 September 2009
That'll Be The Day is a modest but very satisfying rites-of-passage movie with 70s pop star David Essex (who'd already scored in the stage musical Godspell) playing a 1950s teenager with a string of conquests but no sense of direction until music starts to give his life a purpose.

He is careless of the feelings of others, so this is not a simple pop cash-in for the singer, and there are good actors around him (the exasperation and affection of mother Rosemary Leach is especially notable) and an excellent, well structured screenplay by Ray Connolly, where even small scenes - the action of a kindly policeman, for example, when Essex is drunk and lonely on his birthday - contribute to a coherent whole.

Ringo Starr must have been taken with the script, too, as he plays Essex's buddy/mentor when they are both working at Butlin's. And a young Robert Lindsay is his schoolfriend, watching in horror as Essex chucks all his books into the river prior to an exam. Lindsay later reappears in a truly fifties moment when he and his university chums are all listening to trad jazz, and the visiting Essex is made to feel left out; shades of the early Beatles having to pretend they were a jazz band to get gigs in Liverpool.

The aimless Essex, for so long indifferent to his mother's concern, eventually makes a stab at being the dutiful son but it does not last long: he cannot resist sleeping with Lindsay's girlfriend (the last in his long line of conquests) immediately before he is due to marry his friend's sister, nor is he able to sustain the marriage for long.

But his struggle throughout the film to make some kind of sense of his life, and way in which the answer - music - eventually comes into focus with an insistence which cannot be denied, keeps the character sympathetic, or at least understandable. And in case anyone misses the point, the film is bookended with the idea that he takes after his philandering father, unable to settle down to domesticity after the war. And the greyness (or, to judge from the decor of the family sitting room, the dark, suffocating browns) of a life of late fifties/early sixties conformity is well painted; taking over the family shop, or becoming like the smug Lindsay ("There's always night school," says his mother hopefully), convinces you that whatever is needed to feel fully alive cannot to be found in either of those options. There's a tiny scene using Bobby Darin's Dream Lover, for example, where the combination of the shot and the music really makes us feel his yearning for something else.

The sequel, however, which follows "Jim McLaine" into stardom, is, for me, far less appealing, and Ringo jumped ship (what was effectively his role was taken by Adam Faith). The trouble with this film is that a rites-of-passage story has a universal appeal; following a troubled star's decline when he's surrounded by material wealth (especially when his music is pretentious and high-blown tosh about the role of Woman and Mother) doesn't stir the same sense of general recognition.

Additionally, the focus is on the relationship between Essex and his manager so that the group, the Stray Cats (which seem to be all actors apart from muso Dave Edmunds) are not called to do that much, and Jim's wife reappears too briefly to make much of an impact. (Come to think of it, the one criticism which could perhaps be levelled at the first film is that we glimpse an underused band there, led by Billy Fury, but in that instance I could understand if they were largely edited out because they don't contribute significantly to Jim's journey.)

So essentially my advice is: don't expect too much from the sequel. Although I admit that maybe that's partly because for me, personally, the earlier film is a very important one as it alerted me to the hitherto unknown delights of early rock'n'roll and doowop; the soundtrack is liberally spattered with classics of the day, greatly enhanced by the fact that many of them are playing in the perfect setting of a fairground.

A footnote: as for the title of that first film, from a vague memory of reading Melody Maker when the film was just an idea, there had been an attempt to do a Buddy Holly biopic which was quashed for some reason - possibly I'm misremembering but they certainly didn't use, or weren't permitted to use, actual Holly recordings so the version of That'll Be The Day which plays over the closing credits is the Bobby Vee cover (with, I think, the Crickets backing him), and there is a scene where, reunited with his precious record player, Essex brandishes a Buddy Holly LP, saying "I've been waiting weeks to hear this," only for us to be treated to the strains of ... Richie Valens' Donna. But whether or not a biopic of Holly was originally intended, what emerged is a thoroughly worthwhile film which captures the sense of rootlessness which found an answer for many fifties teenagers in rock'n'roll.
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on 26 January 2008
This two-film set chronicles the life of a discontented, directionless youth, who somewhat aimlessly dreams of being a famous "Rock and Roll" star. It's gritty and realistic in atmosphere, as well as its depiction of the experiences that lead up to the young man's achievement of his dream. David Essex plays innocence, streetwise savvy and jaded overindulgence with equal conviction. The progression of his character is charming, seamless and convincing. Without giving anything away, this morality tale, when both films are seen in succession, is something wondrous to behold. In short I was very impressed, by the material, music and all the performances, which were uniformly excellent. Two thumbs up, as the critics would say...
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on 14 September 2002
Set in post austerity Britain of the 1950's,this film brings alive the feeling and the vibe of that time vividly to to the screen.David Essex plays( or underplays )the laconic hero Jim Mclaine.Jim's a bright boy but stepping on to the career ladder holds no interest for him.Rock'n'roll has broken through and for Jim there's only one vocation in life.To rock'n'roll.
The film perfectly captures the staid,constraint and carefree days of Britain in the 1950's.Along with a great soundtrack Jim makes the break from home and sets out to find his dream.
He finds it a tough world out there but eventually finds work in a holiday camp.Here he meets Mike (brilliantly played by Ringo Starr) who's been there, seen it,done it or so he claims.Mike introduces Jim to the ways of the adult world,so therefore throwing of the constrictions of the social strait-jacket that was '50's Britain.
The strong point of the film is it's realism.Why have I never heard of it's directors' other work? One of the best British films of the 1970's;this is a must see for film fans and rock'n'roll fans alike.It's sequel 'Stardust' which charts Jims rise to fame should not be mentioned in the same breath.
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on 3 March 2010
This double bill of That'll Be The Day & Stardust are 2 great UK 1970's movies. Both starring David Essex who gives a good performace in both films as the main character, albeit quite a despicable individual & all in all a bit of a waster of his life!

Ringo Starr & Adam Faith almost steal the show in both films, Ringo in the first & Adam in the second.

Extras are nothing to go for, trailers for other UK musical of the 1950's & 60's.

Excellect wide screen presentaions & faultless copies.

Not for everyone's taste in films but terrific UK film making.
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on 16 July 2011
I wasn't a big David Essex fan in the seventies but I owned the soundtrack I wanted to see the film so I bought it The fact it came as a double header made it more of Bargain I liked both films for different reasons I realise its not everyones cup of tea but for those of you who grew up in the sixties and seventies It will bring back a lot of memories. The Dave edmunds arranged songs in Stardust are brilliant as is I have to say David Essex who as a young lad you couldn't say you liked as he was a girly icon but he is very goood indeed.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 6 January 2015
Less a film and its sequel than the 1st and 2nd act of one story, these two films are much more powerful seen together than separately.

Together the two films give us over 3 hours of the life of Jim MacLaine as he goes from bright mid 1950s schoolboy to an aimless drifter shagging every woman he can get his hands on, breaking the hearts of everyone close to him, to stumbling into a career in rock 'n roll, to becoming one of the biggest stars in the world, with all the attendant hollowness of super-stardom in a business designed to make you self your soul and lose sight of what's real.

This 2nd film makes up the rock-star years of Jim's life, but the 1st film makes it clear that his self-destructive tendencies were there long before stardom, And if he's taken advantage of by managers and record labels, he's also a man who was amoral, selfish and at sea long before that.

It's a shame that pop star David Essex isn't an even stronger actor. He's not at all bad, but this is the kind of rich, juicy role in which a great actor could have exposed multiple layers of depth and complexity. Essex does his best, and is always natural, but isn't able to go that step beyond. (director Michael Apted apparently learned that lesson, and had actors play singers to great effect in his later 'Coal Miner's Daughter').

It would also have been great if the films had managed to avoid some of the clichés around the music business and sex, drugs and rock and roll. It may well be that they're clichés because they're true, but we've also seen them many times, in many films before – even by 1974 when 'Stardust' was made.

One odd thought; on some level 'Stardust' seems to be channeling Peter Watkins' far more original, political and challenging 1967 U.K. rock film "Privilege', with more slickness, but less grand ambition. No idea if that's intentional, but watching this film made we want to go back and re-visit that one.
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on 8 October 2015
Great nostalgic pair of DVD's in one pack. Especially great for me growing up in the 60's and living in Essex and being in a rock band. Brings back all the memories. Very true to life with settings and language as it was in those days. David Essex and many other great actors and musicians playing their parts well. Labels on my discs were switched but a trip down memory lane well worth the money. This is how it was, trust me I was there old now but great time and memories.
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on 30 January 2009
As the title of this review says: A Great bit of nostalgia, brought back the memories of our teenage years and everything that went with them.
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