“A HARD DAY’S NIGHT” from United Artists/Janus Films opens for a limited run on Fri., July 4, 2014.
STARRING: The Beatles (John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr), Wilfrid Brambell, Norman Rossington and Victor Spinetti.
DIRECTOR: Richard Lester (“Help”, “How I Won the War”, “The Three Musketeers”, “Superman II”, Superman III).
SYNOPSIS: The band mates play slapstick versions of themselves as they prepare for an important concert in Liverpool.
Set the Way-Back machine for the year 1964. America was still reeling from the horrific events in Dallas in November 1963. American pop music was the same-old-same-old and most of it was lousy–stale. The entire country needed a pic-me-up to adjust the morbid attitude.
In February of 1964, The Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show and the change had begun. It was palpable everywhere, even in small town South Dakota. Their music was fresh, lively and refreshing. Most importantly it was new. They smiled and played their own instruments. They’d written several of the songs themselves. The British Invasion had begun and Beatlemania ran rampant across America.
On July 6, 1964, United Artists released the first film by the group–“A Hard Day’s Night”. It was fun and funny–a rocking good time as it were. The lads were caricatures of themselves but still seemed so real. Their music from the soundtrack was even better than that from the Sullivan shows. No one realized it at the time but this event was the genesis of what would become MTV and music videos. This film opened the doors to the endless possibilities of what music, specifically rock music, would become.
One can’t underline the importance of this film enough. Some short-sighted critics condemned this as mindless drivel but they could not have been more wrong. Critic Roger Ebert described it as “one of the great life-affirming landmarks of the movies”. he was able to see what many of us saw–that this event would trigger a musical revolution that would never be topped–or stopped. It gave a fresh new face to rock and roll. It forced American artists to update their approach. Those who couldn’t or wouldn’t were pushed aside and buried forever.
Back to the present: It’s been fifty years since the release of this film. John Lennon and George Harrison are now deceased. Ringo Starr still goes on tour with the occasional All-Starr Band. Paul McCartney is touring again after an illness and is coming to Target Field in less than a month. The two of them are in their 70’s but still vital, still lively. Beatlemania has continued to thrive in the mouths and minds of each successive generation. It’s beyond what Lester ever imagined when he first walked onto the set and called, “Action”.