Mop toppery mockery.
A legendary band, The Beatles, in a crap film, A HARD DAY’S NIGHT, that resonates as legendary because The Beatles are in it.
In this first of the two Beatles films (the other being HELP! 1965), real life rock band The Beatles play a band called The Beatles, who travel from Liverpool to London for a television gig, along the way quipping maniacly like The Beatles in that Liverpudlian accent made so popular by The Beatles, and trying to escape hordes of screaming girlies because even back in 1964, they were as big as, uh, The Beatles.
Rock band movies always seem to suffer this dichotomy: though The Beatles’ naturalistic ad-libbed dialogue is quite funny at times, the story is non-existent; and though the songs are immortal, the acting is almost as bad as KISS MEETS THE PHANTOM OF THE PARK.
Starring Ringo Starr as The Goofy One, George Harrison as The Quiet One and John Lennon and Paul McCartney as the band’s principal songwriters, you know, the Lennon and McCartney of songwriting.
When Ringo asks, “What’s a pretty girl like you doing in a place like this?” we wonder, Was it an old line even back then – or was Ringo the first man to discover how that line never ever works?
I’m Happy Just to Dance with You is performed cabaret-style by a TV band that The Beatles send up, just before they rehearse the song in rock. And many other Beatles songs are orchestrated, which means that long before their songs were re-arranged and whored off as elevator muzak, it already was!
Some old guy (Wilfrid Brambell) plays Paul’s cantankerous grandfather who keeps getting into trouble. It’s like the producers thought, Let’s see, we’ve only got the biggest band in the world starring in our film – how can we make it more interesting? TV writer Alun Owen screenplays, and the man who would be the ruination of the modern SUPERMAN series, Richard Lester, directs. The best thing the filmmakers could do was to let The Beatles roll out their natural chemistry and tongue-in-cheek mockery, which they were thankfully allowed to do; lightning in a time capsule for the ages.
The main attraction of course is seeing The Beatles performing their songs, which is what this “movie” is structured around. Beatles fans will love A HARD DAY’S NIGHT while Beatles non-fans (all three of them) will wonder what all the fuss was about.