Depicting the average day in the life of The Beatles at the height of Beatlemania, A Hard Day’s Night is a fun mock-documentary filled with comedy and music, marking the bands first foray into the world of acting.
The movie follows the bands journey from their hometown of Liverpool to a TV studio in London where they are filming some performances in front of a live audience. To add to the stresses of being bombarded by fans at every turn, they are constantly being harassed by their manager Norm (Norman Rossington) and their roadie Shake (John Junkin). And once at the studio it doesn’t let up, with the television director (Victor Spinetti) adding to the pressure.
Enter Paul’s granddad (Wilfred Brambell). Old, wily and intent on making the most of his grandson’s success, he forges the bands autographs to sell and ‘borrows’ Pauls invites to parties and casinos. He also convinces Ringo to go off and experience the real world instead of the shell he was living in, and Ringo goes missing causing the rest of the band to frantically (and unsuccessfully) scour London for him and return him to the studio in time for the show.
While none of the Beatles are massively proficient or convincing actors, out of the four of them Ringo Star shows the most potential during his lonely, dejected walk along the bank of a canal. John Lennon and George Harrison each have individual scenes in which they get to flex their acting muscles, but unfortunately Paul McCartney gets little chance to shine as his spotlight scene was left on the cutting room floor.
And for those of you not in the know, the running gag throughout the movie that Pauls grandfather is a ‘clean old man’. This is a blatant tongue-in-cheek nod to UK comedy Steptoe and Son in which Brambell played Albert Steptoe, who was constantly being referred to as a ‘dirty old man’!
A Hard Day’s Night is a very enjoyable movie and despite several scenes being quite farcical and contrived for the brilliant comedy, this is by all accounts a pretty accurate snapshot of a day in the life of The Beatles in 1964. The hustle and bustle is all very accurate, and director Richard Lester and writer Alun Owen managed to encapsulate the bands quirky sense of humour, cheeky banter and close knittedness perfectly. Definitely a must see movie for fans of The Beatles, their music or the 60’s in general.
Songs featured in the movie (in chronological order):
A Hard Day’s Night
I Should Have Known Better
If I Fell
Can’t Buy Me Love
And I Love Her
I’m Happy Just to Dance With You
Tell Me Why
She Loves You