A Criterion Bluray of Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale‘s ‘ I Want To Hold Your Hand pops on 3.26.19. Set during the Beatles’ first visit to the U.S. in February ’64, it’s a screwball farce about several kids trying to slip into the Plaza Hotel while the Beatles were staying there and/or score tickets to their first-ever performance on Ed Sullivan Show.

Screwball farce is a very tough thing to get right, I’ve always heard. I’m not calling I Want To Hold Your Hand a “bad” film, exactly, but so much of the material doesn’t “land” that it’s exhausting after a while — it makes you feel like you’re on a comedic forced march. The tone feels pushed and agitated.

After catching an all-media screening in March of ’78 or thereabouts I distinctly remember saying to myself “good God…not seeing that one again.” The word must have gotten out because it flopped commercially — cost $2.8 million to make, earned $1.9 million in ticket sales.

18 months later I became a huge fan of Zemeckis and Gale’s Used Cars, which had a similar farcical tone but also a much sharper script. And funnier performances — Kurt Russell, Jack Warden, Gerrit Graham, Frank McRae, et. al.

I Want To Hold Your Hand‘s mostly female cast includes Nancy Allen, Susan Kendall Newman (Paul’s daughter), Theresa Saldana and Wendie Jo Sperber. The nasal-voiced Eddie Deezen is the stand-out, I suppose, but like everyone else he overdoes the hyper. Deezen’s best all-time performance happened five years later in John Badham‘s War Games, in which he played the spazzy “Mr. Potato Head” — see after the jump.