Unlikely as it may sound, future horror specialist Lucio Fulci made his directorial debut with this musical comedy.
A kind of Italian take on the Elvis film, Rock Around the Clock, It’s Trad Dad, or any number of other films of the time exploiting the rise of the new post-war youth culture, I ragazzi del juke-box / The Juke-Box Kids’ plot is back-of-the-envelope stuff, replete with the usual tropes of inter-generational and familial conflict and a happy ever-after ending.
To wit fuddy-duddy daddy Commander Cesari doesn’t ‘get’ his daughter Giulia’s taste in music, only to be shown the error of his ways and old-fashioned tastes when she and her friends take over the running of his record label and save it from bankruptcy.
While the results may be test your tolerance for Adriano Celentano, Betty Dorys, Fred Buscaglione and other hip young performers of the era at times, they also have many points of interest.
Celentano, doing the Elvis thang
First, Fulci’s direction is pretty stylish, handling the song and dance routines well and combining superimpositions and slow motion in some of the later Vorkapich-style montage sequences.
One of the montages - three images, plus slow motion
Fulci and Buscaglione
Second, he also makes his first cameo appearance, as an A&R or talent scout type who, in characteristic self-deprecating manner, proves more interested in the women than the music; or, alternatively, draws into question the purity of the product, that it is as much ‘sex’ as music which is really being bought and sold here, a point further made by an impromptu striptease routine at an otherwise stage-managed battle of the bands type event.
Third, the cast contains other figures later to play prominent roles the filone cinema, including Elke Sommer, later seen in the likes of Baron Blood and Lisa and the Devil, and Anthony Steffen, here billed as Antonio de Teffe and looking very different from his Django days a decade or so later.
Steffen without stubble
Fourth, there’s even a hint of horror, with one of the kids being nicknamed Dracula, and a song entitled 'I Hate Old Women' with a delightfully manic performance from the singer alongside some suitable odio(us) old women.
Io odio vecchia donne
Or, in sum, enough to make it worthwhile viewing for the dedicated Fulci enthusiast.