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HARD DAY'S NIGHT, A (1964)

SYNOPSIS:
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. This restored print will appeal to their fans, of course, but also to those who have only heard the music; the film puts them in some sort of context.

Review by Richard Kuipers:
Even if much of the humour hasn't worn well in the 38 years since it was made, A Hard Day's Night is so energetic and entertaining you simply have to love it. This frantic depiction of 36 hours in the lives of the mop top quartet stands alongside The Monkees' satirical Head (1968) as the best of the "pop group" movies of the 1960s. Directed with flair by Richard Lester (whose 11 minute short The Running Jumping and Standing Still Film secured him the gig), A Hard Day's Night is a delightful romp through a day in the life of a musical phenomenon we will never see the likes of again. The gags in Alun Owen's Oscar-nominated screenplay sound pretty creaky today but it hardly matters because his ear for dialogue to suit each of the fab four is so sharp. Our memories of anarchic John, shy George, charming Paul and goofy (with a twist of melancholy) Ringo were moulded here. There's also something beautifully innocent about this thoroughly sanitised day in the life of a group obviously enjoying its first flush of success. There's a look in their eyes that says "we can hardly believe this ourselves" and it's a winning one. Three years later John Lennon was writing songs about "yellow matter custard dripping from a dead dog's eye" but here the sqeaky clean combo only had simple things like She Loves You and Can't Buy Me Love on their minds. Drugs and groupies hadn't arrived publicly and we're left with an almost bizarre wholesomeness as these loveable shaggy hairs from working class Liverpool show London establishment what's really "gear" now that rock'n'roll is here to stay. Lovingly restored and sounding tip-top in high fidelity, A Hard Day's Night is simply great fun on the big screen. It's also a fascinating time-capsule of the times before information technology and no holds barred media reportage made it impossible for anything like The Beatles to ever happen again.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

HEAR a sample from A Hard Day's Night in Real Audio.

A HARD DAY’S NIGHT (1964) (G)
(UK)

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

PRODUCER: Walter Shenson

DIRECTOR: Richard Lester

SCRIPT: Alun Owen

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Gilbert Taylor

EDITOR: John Jympson

MUSIC: John Lennon, George Martin, Paul McCartney

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Giantito Burchiellaro

RUNNING TIME: 87 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 15, 2001 (re-release)

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Buena Vista Home Entertainment

VIDEO RELEASE: (Sell-thru) October 23, 2002 [Also on DVD]







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