Sunday, December 27, 2009

#410: A Hard Day's Night (1964)

Director: Richard Lester
Cast: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison & Ringo Starr

Beatlemania has spread across the globe in 1964, and the unpretentious and would-be low-key members of the band are faced with crazed fans and reporters asking inane questions, as well as performances to put on, and downtime in between. All the while, Paul is asked to watch over his grandfather, whose senility brings him through adventures of his own.

The best way I can pseudo-analyze this one is by comparing it to my previous post on Elvis's Jailhouse Rock (1957). Only seven years had passed, and the change is astonishing. Elvis did not play himself, but instead took on the character Vince Everett. His personality today would be easily defined as emo, with an aggressive behavior and a sad outlook on life. He discovers his own unique way of singing, bringing him to worldwide fame.

And then, only a few years later, the Beatles come along. They are all-out joyful, and their voices are completely natural. Their singing doesn't come across as pretentious at all - they are practically sending an invitation to you to sing along, and anyone can do it. While Elvis was trained how to answer questions from the press, the Beatles were 100% original in their speech.

As far as entertainment value, I wasn't enthralled. Though it of course was all comedic, the Beatles are such a monument in music history that I can't help but watch this film as anything but a historical gem.

Fun Trivia (Stolen from IMDB):
  • The people chasing The Beatles into the train at the beginning of the film are real fans.
  • When shooting began, The Beatles had not yet joined the British actor's union. They were hastily inducted on the set with Wilfrid Brambellproposing their membership, and Norman Rossington seconding the motion.
  • Ringo was praised for his solo scene at the riverside as a forlorn soul. However, his expression in that scene was actually the result of being severely hung over after a previous night of heavy drinking.
  • The constant mention of Paul's grandfather being "very clean" are references to actor Wilfrid Brambell playing a rag and bone man in"Steptoe and Son" (1962), featuring the catch-phrase, "You dirty old man." "Steptoe and Son" (1962) was remade in the USA as "Sanford and Son" (1972).
  • The first movie ever put out on DVD, it was issued as a single disc. It was later reissued as a two-disc DVD.

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