Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Cliff Richard, Walter Slezak, Susan Hampshire, Melvyn Hayes, Una Stubbs
Director: Sidney J. Furie
Genres: Indie & Art House, Musicals & Performing Arts
Fun Songs but a Train Wreck of a Movie
M. Masumoto | Russian River, CA USA | 03/31/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Wonderful Life (1964) is a behind-the-scenes musical look at the world of filmmaking.
Cliff Richard and The Shadows are tossed off a cruise ship and land in the Canary Islands, where they find employment on the "desert movie epic" set of an egomaniacal director (Walter Slezak). While there, Cliff falls in love with the film's starlet (Susan Hampshire) whose performance in the film is suffering due to Slezak's draconian directorial methods. As Slezak's desert epic slides into the toilet, Cliff and the gang decide, secretly, to salvage the project by filming their OWN movie, a MUSICAL, using the sets, costumes, and actors from Slezak's doomed epic.
The songs from this film are, by and large, quite enjoyable, my favorite being "Imagination". Cliff Richard is still a big singing star in Britain, and this movie gave him a number of hit tunes.
The best bit of choreography in the film is for the number, "All Kinds of People", which features the fantastic Una Stubbs as well as Cliff and the boys, and is quite imaginative if uneven.
The low/high point of the film is the incompetent "We Love the Movies/History of the Movies" extravaganza, which stops the narrative action of the film for over twenty minutes in a send-up of classic movie genres and films. This sequence is so bad that it's fascinating; Sidney Furie, the director, knew very little about the look and feel of other movies, and it shows. The only authentic moment is when Susan Hampshire rises from the sea like Ursula Andress in Goldfinger. The rest has to be seen to be believed.
Susan Hampshire was the reason I bought this movie at all, and she's the best thing in it. Unfortunately, the terrible screenplay and uneven direction give her few opportunities to shine. Hampshire has a surprisingly lovely singing voice and is quite graceful as a dancer, so I wish that she had done more musicals. Of course, this unfortunate film did nothing to further her career along those lines as it was a complete dud at the box office (with just cause).
Sidney J. Furie, the film's director, didn't want to make this movie, and you can tell. Some of the sequences are beyond dull, and the largely improvised humor of the Shadows is unrestrained, tasteless, and boring. Despite flashes of inspiration, most of the movie is unimaginatively staged and poorly motivated. The excessive use of the new (at the time) zoom lens is particularly off-putting.
There must be something to this movie, because I kept returning to it, watching it over and over... It's terrible but fascinating. In the final analysis, however, "Wonderful Life" is an uninspired piece of drivel which left me simultaneously gasping and laughing at its hubris."