206 - A Hard Day's Night (1964)

Following The Beatles in an irreverent day in their lives.

As the Fab Four (Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Harrison, John Lennon - all as themselves) gear up for an important television appearance they consistently get themselves into trouble much to the dismay of their manager (Norman Rossington).

Paul's Granddad (Wilfrid Brambell) tags along for the ride, and causes yet more mischief. Can the quartet arrive on time for their performance?

Theatrical Poster
Source: Wikipedia
When I reviewed Happiness two days ago, I said that 5-star comedies were very hit and miss. Happiness was simply bizarre, so here we are, two days later with yet another comedy. Unlike Happiness, though, my 60's-music-loving parents were far more excited to watch A Hard Day's Night.

I, on the other hand, wasn't really sure what to make of a film that contained the foursome, especially when it didn't contain songs that were familiar to me. I also wasn't sure whether it was supposed to be a documentary, comedy or what?

And then, it came on and I was instantly hooked. While the film itself is a mockumetary, it does reveal the playful side behind The Beatles and especially the group's brilliant humour. The comedy is simple, clean and innocent and I instantly wished I had had the chance to the The Beatles as they were in their hayday.

As well as this, A Hard Day's Night offers a unique view into 1960's Britain. The streets of London look exactly as the would in any other 60's film, but A Hard Day's Night also offers an insight into the culture. Despite a huge rise to fame the four are still shown riding on the train and are clearly a lower class (mostly due to their more 'common' Northern accents) than those around them, and they are thought of as irritating. Once they step off and onto the stage though, and its a completely different story.

The introduction of Wilfrid Brambell as Paul McCartney's grandfather is also relevant to the contemporary culture, and the numerous references to him being a very clean man are contrary to those seen in British sitcom Steptoe and Son, where he is known as a "dirty old man". As well as this though, he more than adds to the comedy with his mischievous whims.

Of course, it is easy to forget under the story that this is basically propaganda to buy more of The Beatles' albums! The scenes are infused with The Beatles' early classics - and often seamlessly fade in and out of the background - and by the end of the film you will undoubtedly be humming a few songs. I know I did, and I honestly didn't even know them beforehand.

Even if you aren't a Beatles fan or began to dislike them after they went potty at the end, this is a sterling reminder of everything great about the British 60's renaissance.