Blu-ray reissue: That’ll Be the Day (***1/2)

By Dennis Hartley

(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on December 14, 2019)

That’ll Be the Day – Studio Canal (Region “B” Blu-ray)

Set in late 50s England, Claude Whatham’s 1973 film (written by Ray Connolly) is a character study in the tradition of the “kitchen sink” dramas that flourished in 60s UK cinema.

David Essex (best-known for his music career, and hit, “Rock On”) plays Jim MacLaine, an intelligent, angst-ridden young man who drops out of school to go the Kerouac route (to Mum’s chagrin). While he’s figuring out what to do with his life, Jim supports himself working at a “funfair” at the Isle of Wight, where he gets a crash course in how to fleece customers and “pull birds” from a seasoned carny (Ringo Starr) who befriends him.

Early 60s English rocker Billy Fury performs some songs as “Stormy Tempest” (likely a reference to Rory Storm, who Ringo was drumming for when the Beatles enlisted him in 1962) Also look for Keith Moon (who gets a bit more screen time in the 1974 sequel, Stardust).

While the film doesn’t look to be restored, it is still a very clean and sharp transfer, and a vast improvement over previous PAL DVD editions I’ve owned in the past. Extras include engaging interviews with producer David Puttnam and screenwriter Ray Connolly, and an insightful 10-minute video essay about the film by critic Bob Stanley.

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