For this month’s next review for Genre Grandeur – Movie Musicals, here’s a review of A Hard Days Night (1964) by Michael Eddy (@michaeleddy6)
Thanks again to Audrey of 1001 Movies and Beyond for choosing this month’s genre.
Next month’s Genre has been chosen by Ghezal of Ghezal Plus Movies and she has chosen the genre of Film Noir Movies.
Please get me your submissions by the 25th of July by sending them to NoirGhezal@movierob.net
Try to think out of the box! Great choice Ghezal!
Let’s see what Michael thought of this movie:
Since the first time I saw this movie – it’s been one of my all time favorites. Would easily make it onto my Top 10 list for Desert Island Movies (if you could only take 10 with you to watch over and over again, what would they be). Combines the Beatles (probably my favorite singing group of all time) with some of their catchiest songs – almost every one a hit single and ripe for singing along. Put all that with the frenetic and maniacally paced direction by Richard Lester – you have what passes for “a day in the life” of John, Paul, George and Ringo at the height of their Beatle fame and popularity. The rapid fire editing and camera movement for all but the staged concert numbers – was probably the precursor for MTV and the music videos of today. Like so many other things – the Beatles were there first.
Coupled with a wonderful (Academy Award nominated) screenplay by Alun Owen – who is able to capture the humor and individuality of the Fab Four – giving each of them numerous moments to shine – it follows the “boys” as they prepare to do a TV appearance on stage, through their rehearsals, the fan interaction, the actual performance – accompanied by the overwrought screaming of their (mostly) female fans – but look fast in the balcony of the theater – and you can see a very young male fan – Phil Collins – who was one of the lucky kids chosen to be extras in the sequence. Released the same year as eventual Oscar winner My Fair Lady – it couldn’t be more different as a musical. The former is an old-fashioned tale with music sung by the characters and advancing the story – with music and lyrics by old pros Lerner & Loewe – and Audrey Hepburn – the star – having all her singing dubbed by Marni Nixon.
Hard Day’s Night is all Beatles – music by Lennon & McCartney – sung by the boys – some with instruments in hand on stage – and some as background for their wild antics as they are constantly on the move – running free from the restraints of anything too confining. It includes both their biggest hits (at the time) performed for the film (“She Loves You”, “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”) as well as numbers written specifically for the film – like the title tune. In addition to the Beatles – who get to explore and explode their public personnas (the cute Beatle, the shy Beatle) they all get to exhibit some wonderful acting chops. John, the poet laureate of the bunch has his quick, sly wit on full display throughout (one of my favorite scenes – in a train – when they’re forced to share a car with a stuffy, stiff upper lip Brit – annoyed by their behavior – huffs: “I fought the war for your sort”, to which John offers: “I’ll bet you’re sorry you won”. In another – at a cocktail party to show them off as they mingle with an over-dressed crowd – a woman asks George about his hair – “What do you call it?” “Arthur” he replies.)
But the lads aren’t the only shining lights here – keep an eye out for scene stealers – Norman Rossington and John Junkin as “Norm” and “Shake” – the boys handlers and keepers (as in – try to keep them out of trouble. A losing proposition) – a sort of Mutt and Jeff – tall and short duo – who fall victim to the boys setting them off against one another as distractions to let them escape the confines of their hotel room etc. The movie is wonderful at showing the logistics of keeping the boys from having their clothing torn from them as souvenirs by gathering and constant hordes of screaming fans. Their every appearance has the look of a military operation set to song. Almost running away with the movie is Wilfrid Bramball as Paul’s “grandfather”. A wily old coot with a twinkle in his eye and larceny in his heart (getting them to sign photos he can sell, trying to single out Ringo as being apart from the others, always up to no good). He’s introduced as Paul’s grandfather, to which George replies, “I’ve met Paul’s grandfather – that’s not him”. Paul explains, “He is. Everyone’s entitled to two”. And Victor Spinetti as the overworked, overwrought would be director of their TV appearance. His hands more than full dealing with the phenomenon that is the Beatles.
I absolutely love this movie. I have no idea how many times I’ve seen it – but as a desert island pick – I’d be good with watching it once a week for the rest of my life. It’s fun, it has great catchy sing-along-able Beatles tunes throughout. It ends with a closing credit sequence featuring time lapse pictures of each of the Fab Four going through an array of contorted goofy faces while “A Hard Day’s Night” plays on the soundtrack. And by the time that final guitar chord thrums, you’ll want to start all over and watch it again. I know I always do. Lastly, if you buy it on DVD – make sure to watch all the extras and behind the scenes stuff – which is well worth a look as well. That said, “It’s been a hard day’s night, I should be sleepin’ like a log…”