The Films of Petula Clark
The 6.5 Special
(aka Calling All Cats)


Released March 1958 [UK]
Musical - 85 minutes

SYNOPSIS:
Hoping to be "discovered, two teenage girls travel to London by train to attend a broadcast of a pop TV series. En route, the two are entertained by various 1950s pop entertainers scheduled to appear in the show. Petula appears only briefly working on her latest recording, "Baby Lover."

CAST:
Diane Todd
Avril Lesley
.....Ann
.....Judy
Train sequence
GUEST STARS:
Petula Clark
Finlay Currie
Jim Dale
John Dankworth
Jackie Dennis
Lonnie Donegan
Josephine Douglas
Russ Hamilton
Cleo Laine
Desmond Lane
Don Lang
Jimmy Lloyd
Leigh Madison
Freddie Mills
Peter Murray
Joan Regan
John Barry Seven
Victor Soverall
Paddy Stone
Dickie Valentine
Bernie Winters
Mike Winters
FILM NOTES:
  • Directed by Alfred Shaughnessy
  • Produced by Herbert Smith
  • An Anglo-Amalgamated Production
  • Reissued in 1962 as Calling All Cats and shortened to 58 minutes.
  • 'Baby Lover' sheet music
    Sheet music
    '6.5 Special' poster FILM REVIEWS:
    •      Ann, a comely provincial wench with a lovely voice, wants to break into show business but lacks drive. Her chum, Judy, has plenty and at her instigation they take a trip to London to try their luck. They board the 6.5 train and learn that it is full of popular artists. They meet Jim Dale, Desmond Lane, Johnny Dankworth, Mike and Bernie Winters, Joan Regan, Petula Clark, the Kentones, Victor Soverall and Jimmy Lloyd. Jo Douglas and Pete Murray, comperes of the 6.5 Special TV programme, are also travelling and they agree to audition Ann. At first Ann is reluctant to push herself, but Finlay Currie, the famouse character actor gives her confidence. Ann impresses Jo and Pete and they engage her for the 6.5 Special. Lonnie Donegan, Dickie Valentine, Russ Hamilton, Don Lang, the King Brothers, The John Barry Seven and Jackie Dennis, too, appear. Afterwards, Dickie Valentine, the teenagers' heart throb, congratulates Ann, and Jo and Pete promise her a solo spot in the next edition.
           The picture gets off to a flyer and neatly dovetailed shots of the train thundering towards London sustains the illusion of speed. Diane Todd is completely unaffected and sings sweetly as Ann and Avril Leslie proves a perfect foil as the cute Judy. The two make the most of the lively, if slight, tale, and convincingly express wonderment every time they rub shoulders with a star. Dickie Valentine lets himself go at the finish and endorses the audiences sentiments when he applauds Ann. The film offers the cinema a great chance to regain some of the fans it has lost to TV.
      Kline Weekly - 13 March, 1958
    • . . .Films of this kind usually entail endless plot, reluctantly interupted by brief appearancew from the advertised recording stars. In this case, a shrewd producer has dispensed almost entirely with a story, realising that an almost continuous flow of numbers by current favourites is likely to be sufficient attraction for "pop" music fans. The numbers are unfussily presented, in settings which are economical without looking unduly cheap. The stars of long experience shine like beacons amongst some alarmingly "over-night" rock and roll successes.
      Monthly Film Bulletin - March 1958

    • The film starts off rather quaint and curious but builds to a level of breathless insanity much more bizarre than anything Monty Python ever dreamed of doing. Based on the British TV counterpart to our "American Bandstand" and a forerunner to "Ready, Steady, Go!" and "Go Go Beat," THE SIX-FIVE SPECIAL spends its first half on a rocking train ride--there's a star in every compartment waiting to beat out a forgotten hit, including Petula Clark and Jim Dale (who does the most demented rendition of "Train Kept a Rollin" you'll ever witness). Even the black kitchen boys sing shell-shocked showstoppers while washing the dishes. Finally all this leads up to the big broadcast of the Six-Five Special, a virtual "Shindig" in Hell with dizzying dance numbers and an endless parade of stars. I could babble on forever--this is indeed Babylon, British Style
      Johnny Legend - Something Weird Videos

      ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
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