A Hard Days Night (1964)

a hard days night poster

I started watching Alien on Monday to follow through with my alphabetical watching, but have been delayed in completing it. Instead, I have a review of the Beatles’ first film A Hard Day’s Night.

Critiquing this film as a piece of cinema, and not as a collection of Beatles tunes is a difficult task. Richard Lester creates some truly beautiful black-and-white images. Though sometimes the camera can’t seem to find its focus. And the images were obviously taken on a helicopter as the boys play in the grass outside the television studio shake wildly and distract from the fun being had. The boys, though essentially playing themselves, still play it a little stiff as if they are not sure how, exactly, to be themselves. The jokes, for the most part, are still funny, and what little plot there is, still works to give a glimpse into what it was like to be a band on the verge of universal stardom.

To take the movie without the songs is well beyond the point, though. The movie is essentially a market ploy to get the songs heard via different media. One might not be so forgiving if the songs were not any good, but the music shines throughout. The title song that starts the movie off starts with that struuuum that is instantly recognizable and jumps out and smacks you in the face. That is followed by what is arguably the Beatles’ best tunes. When you add in such songs as “I Should Have Known Better”, “Tell Me Why”, “I’m Happy Just to Dance with You”, the simple, sweet “If I Fell” and the sing-along favorite “Can’t Buy Me Love” to the soundtrack then you have a musical that is just shy of remarkable.

The movie was released just before the Beatles came to America and appeared on Ed Sullivan which brought on the madness known as Beatlemania. By this time they were extremely popular as can be seen in the crowd’s reaction while the boys sings on the television show. It is still shocking to see images of teenage girls screaming, crying, and shaking in a manner previously only known to the Pentecostal religion. The soundtrack periodically allows the girls screaming to take over the music allowing us to glimpse what it must have been like to be there. No wonder the boys gave up playing live shortly thereafter.

A Hard Days Night is an excellent glimpse of the Beatles on the cusp of World Stardom. This was before the summer of love, drugs, and the sitar where the Beatles were just trying to be the best band in the world and writing songs that made them so. It is a joy to see them cutting up and being their goofy, hilarious selves. I dare you not to sing and dance along as you watch it.

2 thoughts on “A Hard Days Night (1964)

  1. Mat, I know that my opinion doesn’t mean much but I think your reviews are getting better, not that they were ever bad but now they feel more streamlined and organized. Not to mention that the part about screaming girls and Pentecostals is one of the funniest things I’ve read in awhile.

    Also I must admit that when I heard you were going to try to do all these reviews I didn’t think that you’d be able to keep it up, I’m glad to see that I was wrong. Well done.

  2. Thanks. I used to do reviews for the school paper in college. It’s taken a bit to get back in the groove. Although I’m finding there are just some movies that are tough to review. Bad movies and really good movies are really easy. But mediocre ones are tough.

    It’s easier to do the reviews since I don’t have anything else to do around here. When I go back to work it will totally be a struggle.

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