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Pursued by frenzied fans, pop combo The Beatles (George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr) board a train in their hometown of Liverpool. Accompanied by their manager Norm (Norman Rossington) and Paul's grandfather (Wifred Brambell) The Beatles arrive in London, where they are scheduled to make a live television appearance. As the broadcast time approaches Ringo disappears into the streets of London, initiating a frantic search to make the deadline. 

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The final concert in the film is shot with six cameras; one of them was placed amongst the crowd of screaming girls. At the end of four days shooting the scene, the camera operator had to be taken to his dentist: his back teeth had come loose from the intensity of the sound. This has nothing to do with the film – and everything to do with the life and times of The Beatles in 1964. (Especially as he didn’t sue anyone over it.) A Hard Day’s Night does two totally different things simultaneously – and well. On one hand it takes us into the era and the place with a vital immediacy that reflects well on director Richard Lester. (I can say this with some authority, as I was living in London at the time, just round the corner from the Beatle-famous Abbey Road studios, as it happens.) The other thing is the film’s freshness and eternal style. Lester, and his editor, forged a creatively edgy film, fully ustilising Alun Owen’s ‘naturalistic’ script, which gave each Beatle the sort of lines they’d naturally say. 

Hence the film feels almost improvised, and the style is more akin to an energy-laden documentary than drama. It is also notable for filmmaking devices which are current today: hand held camera, sharp cutting and liberal use of music. Filled with funny lines and modest gags, A Hard Day’s Night also presents The Beatles in performance within the candid framework of the movie. As a bonus, we get little character snapshots of the four lads at the moment they hit their peak. 

All of the elements that make the film unique for its time (as mentioned above) are put in context by the first documentary included on the feature disc, Things They Said Today. As the title implies, it is a new production looking back on the making of the film by many of those involved in the making of it, and many behind the scenes as well. No superficial gimmick this, offering some 36 minutes worth of sometimes revealing and always interesting archival and personal anecdotes, recollections, expositions and insights.

If this exhaustive disc hasn’t exhausted your appetite, slip in disc two, for a cavalcade of interviews with everyone associated with the making of the movie, and just about everyone vaguely related to it by their job at the time, like US concert tour promoter Sid Bernstein, for example. (Be patient with the navigation … the curser tends to misbehave on my copy.) 

There are interviews with the principal filmmakers, the cast – but not any of The Beatles – production and post production crew, George Martin, and so on. And on. The interviews are illustrated with footage and are filled with the sort of memorabilia that can only accumulate around artists who are as down to earth and heavenly famous as The Beatles.

Published October 24, 2002

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CAST: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Wilfrid Brambell, Norman Rossington, Victor Spinetti, John Junkin

DIRECTOR: Richard Lester

RUNNING TIME: 85 mins (feature only)

PRESENTATION: Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 ; Subtitle Languages English ; Audio Languages English

SPECIAL FEATURES: DISC ONE – A Hard’s Day’s Night (the feature); Things They Said Today...(Documentary) DISC TWO 1.Their Production Will Be Second To None 2.With The Beatles 3.Working Like A Dog... 4.Busy Working Overtime... 5.Listen To The Music Playing In Your Head... 6.Such A Clean Old Man! 7.I've Lost My Little Girl... 8.Taking Testimonial Pictures... 9.Dressed To The Hilt... 10.Dealing With "The Men From The Press"... 11.They and I Have Memories... 12. Hitting The Big Time In The USA...


DVD RELEASE: October 23, 2002 [Also on Video]

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