Gonks Go Beat

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Gonks Go Beat
Region 2 DVD cover
Directed byRobert Hartford-Davis
Written byRobert Hartford-Davis
Peter Newbrook
Produced byPeter Newbrook
StarringKenneth Connor
Frank Thornton
Terry Scott
Edited byTeddy Darvas
Music byVarious
Titan Film Productions
Distributed byAnglo-Amalgamated Film Distributors
Release date
  • 1964 (1964)
Running time
92 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

Gonks Go Beat is a 1964 British science fiction/musical fantasy film, directed by Robert Hartford-Davis, starring Kenneth Connor and Frank Thornton.[1] It is loosely based on the Romeo and Juliet storyline and features 16 musical numbers performed by a variety of artists, including Lulu and The Luvvers, The Nashville Teens and the Graham Bond Organisation including Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce and Dick Heckstall-Smith. The film includes an early appearance by the actor Derek Thompson performing with his twin sister Elaine.

The film's title highlights the fad for gonk toys in mid 1960s Great Britain. The gonks appear in the opening title credits, as Lulu sings the theme song "Chocolate Ice".


At a point in the distant future, the inhabitants of Planet Earth have become divided into two factions who despise each other. In Beatland live the hip and trendy people who have long hair, dress in polo neck jumpers, jeans and sunglasses and listen to cool beat music. Their counterparts on Ballad Isle keep their hair short and tidy, wear button-down shirts and pressed slacks or floral dresses and twinsets, and listen exclusively to crooners. A musical competition is staged annually between the two sides, overseen by the neutral and powerful record company executive Mr. A&R. For the rest of the year they regard each other with suspicion and antipathy, although they are not above sneaking into each other's territory to steal musical ideas.

Meanwhile, the overlords of a far-flung galaxy have been observing the squabblings and goings-on on Planet Earth with increasing exasperation. Finally, their patience with the earthlings is pushed beyond its limit and they decide to send their bungling representative Wilco Roger to sort the situation out and bring about a reconciliation between the parties, with the warning that if he fails he'll be exiled to Planet Gonk, a fearsome and dreaded place where spherical furry soft toys shuffle around all day listening to Dixieland jazz.

On arrival, Wilco Roger makes contact with Mr. A&R. They're aware of a forbidden romance between a Beatland boy and a Ballad Isle girl, and use a combination of Mr. A&R's cunning and Wilco Roger's mystical powers to enable the couple to get together without fear and come up with a musical composition which will be acceptable to both sides. The time for the annual competition comes around, and the inhabitants are appalled when the Beatland boy and the Ballad Isle girl take to the stage together. But their song "Takes Two to Make Love" turns out to be the hit of the night, loved by both sides of the musical divide. Mr. A&R declares it the unquestioned winner and orders an end to the silliness as it has now been proved that everyone can live together and learn to appreciate all types of music.


Critical reception[edit]

Gonks Go Beat was widely ridiculed on its original release as being so ill-advised and botched in execution as to have no appeal to any cinema audience demographic, whether of the younger or older generation.[citation needed]

Monthly Film Bulletin wrote: "An unusually uninventive script and dialogue containing hardly a trace of wit defeat even Kenneth Connor's comedy expertise. Otherwise the film is simply a succession of musical numbers, in which the ballad tends to outweigh the beat, several of the numbers being unabashedly tuneful. There are also dance-ensembles, the most ambitious of which is a battle between two armies whose weapons are electric guitars, maraccas and similarly suitable instruments. A mass drumming exhibition makes noise enough to satisfy the most demanding audience."[2]

Kine Weekly wrote: "With its mixture of pop-music, bright colour and some good comic ideas, this should prove popular among youngsters everywhere. Out of the-ordinary young fare.  ...This is another case of a bright idea not coming off as well as it might have done. The basic plot is entertaining, but teenagers, for whom, presumably, the film was principally made, would surely have appreciated jokes not quite so juvenile, Apart from this, however, there are some good and striking inventions: a beat group practising in sports cars on an aerodrome runway; a "prison" in which drummers beat out their atonement for crime; and of course, the musical battle. The comedians concerned. Kenneth Connor (Wilco). Terry Scott (prime minister) and Frank Thornton (Mr. A. and R), deserve more adult script, but the two youngsters have voices and personalities that are delightfully pleasing."[3]

British film historian I.Q. Hunter included the film in his list of contenders for "the worst British film ever made".[4]

For The Spinning Image Graeme Clark wrote, "time has been kinder to its daft novelty than a few of its peers, although that doesn't mean it's any good, it has just grown quainter with age."[5]

TV Guide gave the film one and a half stars and wrote, "only fans of obscure mod bands will enjoy this teen exploitation item."[6]

Cinedelica wrote, "a fairly enjoyable, if very dated, slice of period silliness."[7]


The film was released on DVD in the UK in 2007 by Optimum Home Entertainment, who described it as "the Plan 9 from Outer Space of film musicals", a comparison originally coined by the UK film critic Mark Kermode.[5]


  1. ^ "Gonks Go Beat". British Film Institute Collections Search. Retrieved 3 December 2023.
  2. ^ "Gonks Go Beat". Monthly Film Bulletin. 32 (372): 136. 1965 – via ProQuest.
  3. ^ "Gonks Go Beat". Kine Weekly. 577 (3016): 11. 22 July 1965 – via ProQuest.
  4. ^ I. Q Hunter, "From Window Cleaner to Potato Man" in British Comedy Cinema, edited by I. Q. Hunter and Laraine Porter. Routledge, 2012. ISBN 0415666678. (p. 154)
  5. ^ a b "Gonks Go Beat Review (1965)". Thespinningimage.co.uk. Retrieved 28 March 2014.
  6. ^ "Gonks Go Beat Review". Movies.tvguide.com. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
  7. ^ 05/02/2007 in 1960s, Bands in movies. "DVD Review: Gonks Go Beat (1965)". Cinedelica. Retrieved 28 March 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)

External links[edit]