A HARD DAY’S NIGHT (1964) – A beautiful cinematic scrapbook of The Beatles

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The following is my first of two entries in The 2nd Annual British Invaders Blogathon, hosted by the blog A Shroud of Thoughts. Click on the above banner, and read some great critiques of a wide range of British and Britain-related movies!

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I’ve seen a lot of great movies in my time, but there are very few that mainline me with joy from their very start. A Hard Day’s Night is one of them. After a half-century in which Beatlemania has survived and thrived — if not in its physical state, then surely as a state of mind — there’s not much new that can be said about this delightful movie.

If you’re any sort of pop-music or movie fan, you’d have to have lived under a rock not to know by now that the movie is: (a) a virtually plotless melange about 24 hours in the harried life of The Beatles, culminating in a TV concert performance; (b) cutesily sub-plotted with a side story about Paul’s cantankerous grandfather (Wilfrid Brambell); and (c) filled end-to-end with early-era Beatles songs at their simplest and catchiest.

So, besides (c) — which speaks for itself if you’re a Beatles buff, and should rightfully convert you if you’re not — about all you can do is list the movie’s virtues, of which there are many.

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* Among the people who have been credited for the high quality of this movie — including The Beatles, playwright/screenwriter Alun Owen, and director Richard Lester — one name I never see is that of Gilbert Taylor, director of photography. This movie has the uncanny, simultaneous effect of appearing as though every shot was caught on the run while looking shimmeringly beautiful at the same time.

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* I find it interesting that any of the movie’s characters who don’t recognize The Beatles can’t stand them. The stodgy train passenger (above, center); the people who encounter Ringo (other than the truant schoolboy) when he goes off on his own; and most notably, the man who owns the field that The Beatles “hurt” (in the movie’s most famous sequence — imagine how much money that guy would try to fetch for that Beatles-trodden land these days!). Small wonder that this movie spoke to a generation that was tired of intolerant old fogeys trying to tell them how to run their lives.

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* The movie has that delightful quality that most great comedies have, of saying things that ought to be said. All of The Beatles have such moments in the movie (Don’t mess with Ringo’s drums!), but the best such moment is when George tells off the ad spokesman who thinks he knows what’s hip. Even Paul’s grandfather gets off a great line about how all he has seen so far on his trip is “a train and a room, and a car and a room, and a room and a room” — which pop history tells us was actually an observation of The Fabs themselves when they were trapped in their hotel rooms between shows.

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* For a movie whose main reason for existence was its soundtrack album, it’s amazing how much of its comedy is visual — everything from the aforementioned scene where The Beatles briefly escape their routine and cut loose in an open field; to a non-sequitor where a TV actor, portraying a bloodied soldier, pours some ketchup on his lunch, looks at his fake wound, and adds ketchup to the wound to make it look more realistic. And then there are the chase scenes, which are practically Richard Lester’s love letters to his hero Buster Keaton (whom he later employed in his movie version of the play A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum).

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After The Beatles broke up, John Lennon forever dismissed Beatlemania as high school hi-jinks. He told one interviewer, “You have all the old records there if you want to reminisce,” and when fans would ask if The Beatles would reunite, he’d counter, “Do you want to go back to high school?” You can’t go back, of course, but you can always watch A Hard Day’s Night, enshrined just as you’d want your early glory days to be — beautifully photographed, and with joyous memories that continue to reward future generations.

(If you enjoyed this blog, please click here to read my second British Invaders Blogathon entry about The Beatles’ movie Help!)

The BEATLES FILM BLOGATHON – Day 3 Recap

Like a mint-condition, first-edition copy of The White Album, our blogathon continued to entertain and impress right to the very end. Let’s wrap things up with a recap of

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In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood offered an insightful critique in John Lennon’s only non-Beatle film role, as an Army private in Richard Lester’s How I Won the War.

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Critica Retro posted a terrific take on the movie that started it all, A Hard Day’s Night.

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And to bring the Blogathon to full circle, I couldn’t resist adding some final thoughts on the remaining “Three-tles'” 1995 “reunion” video, “Free as a Bird.”

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If you have missed reading any of the other wonderful entries from the previous two days of this blogathon, please click on the appropriate recap below to find what you’d like to read.

Original blogathon announcement * Day 1 recap * Day 2 recap

We hope you have enjoyed our heartfelt tribute to The Fab Four and the musical and cinematic delights they have brought to the world. Now, I’ve got to take a break for a while…I’VE GOT BLISTERS ON MY TYPING FINGERS!!

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Only one week until the BEATLES FILM BLOGATHON – Is there anybody going to listen to my story?

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It’s only one week away from our Beatles Film Blogathon, and I’m…well, if not embarrassed, than certainly humbled to say that we have only three blogger entrants thus far.

Only THREE? One less member than The Beatles themselves??

Only THREE? One less member than The Beatles themselves??

I hope that this blogathon — besides honoring both Ringo Starr’s 75th birthday and his recent induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — will reflect the spirit of fun that The Beatles at their best provided us.

Although entries for the movies A Hard Day’s NightHelp!, and Let It Be are spoken for, there are still plenty of Beatles-related movies and music videos to blog about. Click on the blogathon’s banner (above) for more information about the ‘thon, and if you’re interested in blogging for it, please leave your blog’s name and URL, and the movie or video you want to blog about, in the “Comments” section below. Show your love of The Beatles by sharing it in our blogathon!

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Announcing THE BEATLES FILM BLOGATHON!

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(INTRODUCTORY DISCLAIMER: This blogathon is in no way connected to or endorsed by any of the Beatles or by Apple Corps Ltd.)

As a celebration of both Ringo Starr’s 75th birthday and his recent induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Beatles buff otherwise known as Movie Movie Blog Blog would like to announce…

THE BEATLES FILM BLOGATHON!

Following are the rules.

Primary rule: Please note that I will not accept duplicate entries about the same movie. There is a wide range given below from which to choose, so it’s first come, first served.

Do’s

Feel free to submit a blog about one of your favorite “official” Beatles movies: A Hard Day’s NightHelp!Magical Mystery TourYellow SubmarineLet It Be, or The Beatles Anthology.

Since this is obviously a limited menu from which to choose, I will also accept blogs about any of the following:

* Beatles-related documentaries, such as the Maysles Bros.’ Beatles documentary, 1982’s The Compleat Beatles, or 1988’s Imagine: John Lennon.

* Movies in which a Beatle appeared solo, either in a starring or co-starring role — anything from John Lennon’s starring turn in How I Won the War, to George Harrison’s cameo in The Rutles.

* Music videos featuring any of The Beatles, either as a group or separately.

* If you can provide a detailed critique about how their music adds to the film in question, I will also accept blogs about movies for which The Beatles contributed only a musical score, such as The Family Way (Paul McCartney) or Wonderwall (George Harrison). (Again, be sure to note how the music relates to the film as a whole, rather than just critiquing the score itself.)

* Fictional movies whose main source of plot is The Beatles’ music, such as I Am Sam (2001), the musical Across the Universe (2007),  or Nowhere Boy (2009).

Don’ts – Please do not blog about any of the following:

* Movies for which any of The Beatles served only as behind-the-scenes personnel (such as George Harrison’s Handmade Films productions).

* The 1966-1969 Beatles TV cartoon, since The Beatles themselves really had nothing to do with it other than the use of their songs.

* TV appearances, such as The Beatles guesting on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” or John and Yoko co-hosting “The Mike Douglas Show.”

How Do I Join the Blogathon?

In the “Comments” section at the bottom of this blog, please leave your name, the URL of your blog, and the movie you are choosing to blog about. At the end of this blog entry are banners for the ‘thon. Grab a banner, display it on your blog, and link it back to this blog.

The blogathon will take place from Sunday, July 5, through Tuesday, July 7 (Ringo Starr’s birthday). When the opening date of the blogathon arrives, leave a comment here with a link to your post, and I will display it in the list of entries (which I will continually update up to the beginning of the ‘thon, so keep checking back!).

I will not be assigning particular dates to any blog posts. As long as you get your entry in by the end of the day on July 7, I will be satisfied. (That said, the earlier the better!)

Again, be sure to leave me a comment and grab a banner, and have fun with your blog entry. Yeah, yeah, yeah!

Here is the list of participants thus far:

Critica Retro – A Hard Day’s Night

Phyllis Loves Classic Movies – Help!

Moon in Gemini – Yellow Submarine

Back to Golden Days – Let It Be

Movie Movie Blog Blog – Music videos for George Harrison’s “This Song” and “Crackerbox Palace”;  music video for The Beatles’ “Free as a Bird”

Summer Reeves – I Wanna Hold Your Hand

Love Letters to Old Hollywood – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

A Shroud of Thoughts – Across the Universe

In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood – How I Won the War

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