A HARD DAY'S NIGHT (2001): The Beatles first film on DVD

 |   |  1 min read

A HARD DAY'S NIGHT (2001): The Beatles first film on DVD

There's a brief scene in A Hard Day's Night that went right past most people at the time. Watch carefully in the first few minutes and you'll catch it.

John Lennon is sitting in a railway carriage and holding a bottle of Coke. With a knowing look he sniffs, or more correctly, snorts it. It's the little things in life really, isn't it?

Viewed from this distance, that Beatles film of 1964 is a period piece -- the days of knowing innocence when Beatlemania was still fun and not a prison for the four young men at the centre.

But it's from that less manufactured world of pop that the film gains its energy.

It captures a period, but also transcends it by virtue of its pace (it's a day in the life of the Beatles, sort of), its superb direction by Richard Lester (who says it made his career) and, of course, the three-minute pop songs which carry it.

It's also hilarious, shows a vibrant world of Britpop supplanting the bowler hat brigade (the funny sequence with the gentleman in the rain at the start), and employed great character actors and in-jokes.

The refrain "He's very clean" about McCartney's grandfather, played by Wilfrid Brambell, makes sense today only if you know he was old man Steptoe, the crusty junk collector in the television series of the period.

But there are also shapes of things to come: the terrific sequence of a dry George Harrison quietly taking apart a cynical adman who wants to launch a new Swinging London model the kids will fall in love with ("She's a slag," says Harrison. "We turn the sound down and say rude things abut her."); the justifiably famous scene of a lonely, already jaded Ringo hanging out with a kid (he was very hungover, hence the look); McCartney's Famous Eyebrows in just about every shadow-soaked performance, and so on.

A Hard Day's Night was the best, and arguably, the only film the Beatles were ever engaged in.

For Help! in 1965 they became a caricature of themselves in a James Bond-like romp, and Magical Mystery Tour was a rambling and plotless mistake. For Yellow Submarine they begged off entirely and were replaced by cartoon characters.

Let It Be, a documentary of the band quietly self-destructing, is one for those who want the reality and not the dream.

A Hard Day's Night is the dream, in a sense. But it's also a snapshot of pop at its most fun, the band already starting to get weary of the circus they created, and comes with excellent, very British cameos.

In retrospect, it's a wonder Americans got it at all. And no one got the coke joke.

Oh, and the opening chord and title sequence to A Hard Day's Night is worth the price of admission alone.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Film articles index

THE MISSING a film by RON HOWARD

THE MISSING a film by RON HOWARD

For those who consider the Western as an art form there will always be debate on which films should be counted among the greatest in the genre: down to personal taste and protracted argument would... > Read more

FIVE MINUTES OF HEAVEN, a film by OLIVER HIRSCHBIEGEL (Madman DVD)

FIVE MINUTES OF HEAVEN, a film by OLIVER HIRSCHBIEGEL (Madman DVD)

Although this seems to have all the hallmarks of a stage play adapted for the screen, Five Minutes to Heaven (by the director of the gripping Hitler-bunker drama Downfalll) is based on a true story... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Scotty's salmon'n'scallop filo gateau with a capsicum dill buerre blanc

Scotty's salmon'n'scallop filo gateau with a capsicum dill buerre blanc

This superb and astonishingly easy recipe comes courtesy of Scotty Newcombe, chef at Lake Brunner Lodge in the South Island of New Zealand. Lake Brunner Lodge is one of those ideal retreats... > Read more

David's Spanish lamb and red pepper stew

David's Spanish lamb and red pepper stew

David says this is a deliciously simple recipe that can withstand a few variances in the amount of ingredients used, the only caution being that you use very good quality paprika. The Spanish brand... > Read more