A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
(Goes well with : Yellow Submarine, Monty Python’s Flying Circus)
The Beatles need no introductions nor do the songs in this movie nor do the scenes we all know. A Hard Day’s Night is iconic if for no other reason than it has the young Beatles before they had hair all over their faces and were more popular than Jesus. However, they were popular at the time and ARE popular in my household. No other group is collectively agreed upon by all members like the Beatles. So we sat down and watch and tried to understand what they were saying much of the time.
First seen running from fans, The Beatles end up on a train to make a gig on London television. On the initial train ride we meet Paul’s grandfather (I guess it turns out it was supposed to be his grandfather, I kept waiting for this to be a gag) who is a ornery old man. The band is seen ducking in and out of cars and hotel rooms while eventually practicing for their gig, frolicking in the hillside and taking a bath. Eventually, Paul’s ornery grandfather, wittingly or unwittingly, convinces Ringo that he is not wanted in the band. This sets him on a lonely trek through the world where things are not always easy. However, never fear, the Beatles get back together in time for the set and we’re spoiled with a short set of hits. You’ll know all the songs.
The Beatles weren’t actors. And you know what?? That’s OK. In fact, it’s more than ok. As a viewer I felt I was, in some weird way, seeing the real guys. I know it’s not completely true because of all the shenanigans but they do seem so damn down to Earth even when bathing in the locker room. The Fab Four also seem to always be having fun. Even Ringo looking sad at being excluded still seems to have a smile underneath.
Once again our family was struck with problem of accents. Famous opening scene, to the tune of A Hard Day’s Night, of the Beatles running from rabid fans hits a wall of in-comprehension as the young men start talking in their Scouse accents. I grabbed the remote and shot back to the menu for Special Features>Set Up>Audio>Subtitles>On but AGGGH! There were no subtitles available. With the fast, and often time bewildering humor, mixed with a thick accent I fear many (most?) of the jokes went over the kid’s heads (and some over the adult’s head too!!) There are some slapstick moments that anyone could understand (even me!). The humor itself is very (pre) Monty Python-esque with my favorite bit when George goes into an executive meeting and tells the powers that be that all their pop swag is rubbish.
Most impressive, and potentially influential, in the movie is the music montages. Long before Video Killed the Radio star the creative troops around the Beatles were creating the future. Multi-camera views, performance seen through the TV monitors, quick editing. These types of things would become the norm in 20 years time. Looking at it now 50 years later it still feels fresh.
Perhaps that freshness and wonder and enjoyment just flat out comes from the music. While hits are peppered throughout the movie it ends in a crescendo of multiple songs played on stage for the cameras. The kids were up dancing and singing and repeatedly reminding me which one was Paul and which one was John. The plot wasn’t important. Don’t let anyone convince you this is amazing cinema. Watch it if you even remotely a fan.
Mom says : The kids made me watch Yellow Submarine like 1000 times when they were younger. Nothing has quite been the same since.
Suggested Age: All ages (for the music)
9+ (for most humor)
Adult Grade: B
Kid’s Grade: We liked it!