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That'll Be the Day is a 1973 British drama film directed by Claude Whatham, written by Ray Connolly, and starring David Essex, Rosemary Leach and Ringo Starr. It is set in the late 1950s/early 1960s and was partially filmed on the Isle of Wight.

That'll Be the Day
That'll be the day.jpg
DVD cover by Arnaldo Putzu
Directed byClaude Whatham
Produced bySanford Lieberson
David Puttnam
Written byRay Connolly
StarringDavid Essex
Rosemary Leach
Ringo Starr
Keith Moon
Billy Fury
Deborah Watling
Distributed byAnglo-EMI Film Distributors
Release date
  • 12 April 1973 (1973-04-12) (United Kingdom)
  • 29 October 1973 (1973-10-29) (United States)
Running time
91 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

Plot summaryEdit

Jim MacLaine was abandoned by his father when he was young. Later, as a suburban school dropout, Jim leaves home and drifts through a succession of dead-end jobs until he finds an outlet for his frustration in rock 'n' roll. Tossing away the chance of a university education much to the consternation of his mother, alienated MacLaine becomes a lowly deckchair attendant before streetwise friend Mike gets him a job firstly as a barman and then with the fun fair. The initially shy MacLaine quickly becomes a heartless fairground Romeo leaving a trail of broken hearts in his wake. Eventually MacLaine returns home to run the family store and marry his girlfriend, but despite the birth of a son, restless Jim feels the lure of rock ’n’ roll again.


The Liverpool days of the Quarrymen/the Beatles and Rory Storm & the Hurricanes were said to be the inspiration for the fictional group called "Stray Cats" in the film.[citation needed]

Many of the characters were played by musicians who had lived through the era portrayed in the film including Ringo Starr of the Hurricanes and the Beatles, Billy Fury, Keith Moon of the Who and John Hawken of the Nashville Teens.

The film was produced by David Puttnam and is loosely based on the Harry Nilsson song "1941".[citation needed]


Reception and reputationEdit

Box officeEdit

The film was a hit at the box office (by 1985 it had earned an estimated profit of £406,000).[1]

Nat Cohen, who invested in the film, said it made more than 50% its cost.[2] It was one of the most popular movies of 1973 at the British box office.[3]

Critical receptionEdit

According to Anne Billson in the Time Out Film Guide, the film was a "hugely overrated dip into the rock 'n' roll nostalgia bucket, ... " also commenting "Youth culture my eye: they're all at least a decade too old. But good tunes, and worth catching for Billy Fury's gold lamé act."[4]


Chart positionsEdit

Chart Year Peak
UK Albums Chart[5] 1973 1
Preceded by
Pure Gold by Various artists
UK Albums Chart number-one album
30 June 1973 – 18 August 1973
Succeeded by
We Can Make It
by Peters and Lee

Award nominationsEdit

BAFTA Best Supporting Actress: Rosemary Leach.

BAFTA Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles: David Essex.


Essex returned as Jim Maclaine the following year, in the 1974 sequel, Stardust, which continues the story into the early 1970s.

An independent radio drama recording project, That'll be the Stardust!, was released in 2008.[6] The story follows the musical journey of Jim Maclaine's son, Jimmy Maclaine Jr.


  1. ^ a b Alexander Walker, National Heroes: British Cinema in the Seventies and Eighties, Harrap, 1985 p 79
  2. ^ Ooh, you are awful, film men tell Tories. David Blundy. The Sunday Times (London, England), Sunday, 16 December 1973; pg. 5; Issue 7853. (939 words)
  3. ^ Harper, Sue (2011). British Film Culture in the 1970s: The Boundaries of Pleasure: The Boundaries of Pleasure. Edinburgh University Press. p. 270.
  4. ^ The TimeOut Film Guide, 3rd edition, 1993, p. 706
  5. ^ "Number 1 Albums – 1970s". The Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on 9 February 2008. Retrieved 14 June 2011.
  6. ^ "Tony G. Marshall's "That'll be the Stardust!"". Retrieved 2019-08-03.

External linksEdit