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Catch Us If You Can (1965)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Shots of street signs, advertising posters and posters on walls. Images are all-pervasive. A group of sleeping young men are woken by a church organ, converted for use as an alarm. This disused chuch, re-designed as a 1960s bachelor pad, is the HQ of 'Action Enterprises', freelance stuntmen working for films and TV commercials.

As the group drive around London to their next tv location at Smithfield meat market, images of an advertising campaign 'Meat to Go' featuring a blonde model, 'the butcha girl', are everywhere. The poster girl, Dinah, happens to be a girlfriend of Steve, one of the stuntmen.

Following a fracas at the location, Steve and Dinah flee in a stolen E-type Jag, and drive through London. They stop to visit a swimming pool, and Dinah takes Steve to view the orange trees at Kew Gardens, where she talks about an uninhabited island off the Devon coast with a disused hotel, which she has plans to buy. Steve is also fed up with the media circus, and wants to escape from London in order to visit Louis, who impressed him as the leader of his Stepney youth club and is now living in rural Devon.

Steve and Dinah flee London with Duffie, henchman of Zissell, Dinah's ad agency boss, in pursuit. Zissell is fascinated by Dinah and plans to use the event for publicity purposes, promoting it as a 'kidnapping', so a 're-capture' can be staged for the media.

Steve and Dinah drive across Salisbury Plain past the mock battleground of the army training facility. They stop and enter a house occupied by 'drop out' types. Dinah listens to the incoherent ramblings of their 'guru', Yeano, while Steve goes out to check the car. The military arrive in force and storm the house, and the 'drop outs' are rounded up and captured. Steve's stolen E-type is destroyed by the army.

Running to a nearby road, they hail a lift. A Bentley stops and they are offered a lift by a middle-aged couple, Guy and Nan, who mention that they have heard about the 'abduction' on the TV news. Guy and Nan's house in the Royal Crescent, Bath, is full of bric-a-brac. Guy collects lanterns, projectors, film memorabilia and phonograph records of music hall stars, and Nan collects old clothes. At the suggestion of Nan, Steve phones his stunt gang and invites them to attend a fancy dress party in Bath town hall. They all go as characters from vintage movies (Chaplin, Marx Bros, Laurel and Hardy, Jean Harlow). Duffie has rallied the police and press to invade the party for maximum publicity and it soon develops into chaos. Following a chase through the Roman Baths, Steve and Dinah escape with police and media in pursuit.

In wintry, snow-covered Devon, they arrive at Louis farm, known as 'Welkom (sic) Ranch' and set up as a 'Wild West and go carting' tourist attraction. Louis is not really interested in Steve, and forgets who he was. Louis has become a 'hollow man', a cynical operator. He offers Steve a job as a stuntman in his tourist attraction, but Steve declines - he will be in Spain for the summer. Steve can see that Louis no longer has any principles, but Dinah is taken in.

After riding the ponies on Dartmoor, Steve and Dinah flee the farm with the police and Duffie in pursuit. They arrive at the coast, and from the sand dunes see Dinah's magical 'island' and take the ferry. Disembarking, they enter the deserted hotel. As they explore the interior, Zissell emerges from the shadows. He explains that he found out about Dinah's interest in the island from her father. He had simply walked to the island while the tide was out. It is not really an island at all; Dinah has been under a delusion - this 'island' depends totally on the tides.

But the tide is now out and representatives of the media, pre-assembled by Zissell, are waiting for Steve and Dinah on the beach. As they leave the hotel Steve distances himself from Dinah, Zissell and the media circus. He wants no part of this, and drives away with his group in their jeep.