A Hard Day’s Night

A Hard Day's Night

The Beatles are such an accepted part of pop culture that it’s easy to forget how dramatic their rise to worldwide fame was. The eruption of Beatlemania in the early 60s shook up the entertainment world in a way that few overnight sensations have before or since. Inevitably, the ‘Fab Four’ ended up in a movie designed to capitalize on their success. Released in 1964, A Hard Day’s Night is so good that it stands on its own. In fact, many film fans consider it to be the greatest rock and roll musical of all time.

The plot of A Hard Day’s Night is deceptively simple: The film follows The Beatles through a fictionalized version of their daily routine. They rush from hotel rooms to trains to studios as their handlers keep them on an intensely busy schedule of recording sessions and concert appearances. In between appointments and mad dashes, the four band members cook up new songs and have the occasional bit of fun, but they must always be careful to dodge their many overeager fans so they don’t cause mass hysteria.

Grandfather, a cantankerous old codger, is also on hand to make mischief. He convinces Ringo that he should go off “parading,” and thus throws a wrench into the lads’ schedule. After much mischief on the streets of London, Ringo is finally reunited with the group in time for a big concert. That concert is also being captured on video for a television broadcast by an uptight director who is driven to distraction by the non-conformist nature of The Beatles. In between all the antics, plenty of room is made for Beatles tunes like “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “I Should Have Known Better” and the classic title song.

A Hard Day’s Night was an instant hit, making millions of dollars around the world and inspiring scores of similarly-styled films by other bands like The Dave Clark Five (Having A Wild Weekend) and Herman’s Hermits (Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter). The Beatles returned in 1965 with the equally successful film Help!. Other cinematic successes involving The Beatles included the animated Yellow Submarine and Let It Be.

The fact that A Hard Day’s Night was a smash success surprised no one. The fact that it became a classic and continues to be a major influence on filmmakers today was a surprise to many. Just the same, a casual look at the film explains why. First of all, The Beatles made a great cinematic subject. Each member instinctively knew how to perform for the camera and showed distinctive personality traits that made them all equally engaging: Paul was cute, John was wacky, George was the ironic wit and Ringo was clumsy but endearing. The instant and lasting impressions they made in this film played a big part in creating the Beatles legend.

The film also benefited from its unusual approach to its subject. Instead of mimicking the plot and style of old Hollywood musicals, the filmmakers took a documentary approach. This lent the finished product a “you are there” feel, with a contagious excitement that drew viewers into the crazy, magical world of The Beatles. The non-stop barrage of classic songs, as well as the sequences that brought these songs to life were free-form mini-masterpieces that created a formula since borrowed by everyone who has ever made a music video.

Despite the fact that it is over fifty years old now, A Hard Day’s Night feels as fresh and vital as ever. Its pace is lightning-fast, its blend of music and comedy is seamless, and the charm of The Beatles is truly timeless. A Hard Day’s Night is how the rock and roll movie was meant to be.

If you a fan of this iconic Fab Four film, we would love to hear all of your thoughts and recollections of A Hard Day’s Night in our comments section below.

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