I Wanna Hold Your Hand (1978)

I Wanna Hold Your Hand (1978)

“If I’m gonna get caught, I want to be as close to the Beatles as I can!”

A die-hard Beatles fan (Wendie Jo Sperber) hoping to see the band drives to New York City with a boy (Mark McClure) who has access to his father’s hearse, an aspiring-photographer friend (Theresa Saldana), a young woman (Nancy Allen) about to be married, a folk music snob (Susan Kendall Newman), and an obnoxious Beatles-hater (Bobby Di Cicco).

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Dick Miller Films
  • Historical Drama
  • Media Spectacle
  • Nancy Allen Films
  • New York City
  • Obsessive Fans
  • Rock ‘n Roll
  • Teenagers

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that “if you were in the New York area back in 1964, you know that this sadly neglected film perfectly captures the lovely hysteria surrounding the Beatles’ arrival in town, their stay at the Plaza Hotel, which was besieged by fans, and their historic appearance on the The Ed Sullivan Show.”

He notes that this comedy “about a funny group of kids, mostly out-of-towners, who try to break into the Beatles’ hotel suite and to rustle up tickets to the Sullivan show” is “like something out of a time capsule”:

… with “the characters, clothes, dialogue, [and] New York environment/atmosphere… exactly as [he] remembers.” He argues that “there was something wonderful in the air back then that’s impossible to describe,” yet “somehow this film re-creates that feeling.”

He further notes the “splendid comic performances by the young cast — particularly Nancy Allen as a girl who suddenly becomes an obsessed Beatles convert”:

… and “Eddie Deezen as a nerdy chatterbox who is a Beatles trivia nut… and hawks memorabilia.”

Peary points out that this film was “a difficult, unusual project, particularly when you consider that the real Beatles and Ed Sullivan weren’t available for the finale, which was nevertheless cleverly handled by director Robert Zemeckis (then Executive Producer Steven Spielberg’s protégé.)

He concludes his review by noting that “this sleeper’s a lot of fun; and smart, too.” I agree completely. I was pleasantly surprised to revisit this smartly scripted, well-acted comedy which manages to cover a brief but potent moment in history from numerous angles. Sperber is hilariously invested as a young woman in love with Paul (but willing to call Deezen her boyfriend given how much they obsessively have in common); and the subplot about a young fan whose father refuses to give him his tickets to the show until he cuts his hair is nicely handled.

This one remains well worth a look.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Wendie Jo Sperber as Rosie Petrofsky
  • An impressive recreation of a specific moment in pop culture history

Must See?
Yes, as an all-around good show.


  • Good Show


One thought on “I Wanna Hold Your Hand (1978)

  1. First viewing (1/12/21). Not must-see.

    Alas, contrary opinion. Perhaps it was calculated as a ‘logical’ follow-up to the nostalgic ‘American Graffiti’. But there’s just one (major) problem with Zemeckis’ feature debut: it’s not at all funny. (Even Dick Miller, in a not-surprising cameo as a security guard, looks bored.) Those with a leaning towards Beatles nostalgia may get something out of it. But small wonder that it’s now a mostly forgotten film.

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