Director: Richard Lester
Running time: 87 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): U
UK Release date: 6th July 1964
Watched on Sky+ Friday 29th April 2011.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
I’ll admit straight off that I am a fan of The Beatles, I love their music, particularly the later stuff, but some of the earlier stuff is pretty good too. This film was made when they were at the height of their fame in 1964. Beatlemania was sweeping the world and it seemed they could do no wrong. Personally, I was way too young to be aware of all this, but I think there’s been enough written about it and there’s enough footage kicking around from then to get the idea.
The film focuses on the band and a period of 36 hours leading up to a live TV appearance. They are joined by Paul’s grandfather, a ‘mixer’ as Paul calls him. Basically, he likes to wind everyone up so they end up having arguments. Of course he causes much mayhem, particularly for the band’s manager, Norm, for the purposes of the film, and his assistant Shake. Throw into the mix a highly neurotic TV director and a collection of Beatles’ hits from the time and you’ve got the makings of a film.
Now, the acting is not of the highest quality from the band members, although Ringo does show a little promise. Of the other performers, Wilfrid Brambell did a great job as the evil old grandfather (very clean though). Norman Rossington was very harassed as Norm and John Junkin did a good job as the clueless Shake. For me, the best performance came from Victor Spinetti as the highly strung TV director, he was great. Of course, John was played by John Lennon, Paul by Paul McCartney, George by George Harrison and Ringo by Ringo Starr.
As a film, I didn’t find this very good, it’s quite a mess with much chaos around everything the band do. I don’t know, maybe it really was like that for them back then. The plot is pretty weak, but it does the job of showcasing the band and, more importantly, their songs, which were, for me, the highlight of the piece. I guess if you’re a fan of The Beatles then you’ll enjoy this immensely, and so, for you lot, recommended. If you’re not a fan then I’d probably give it a miss, it’s not a great piece of filmmaking.
My Score: 6.4/10
(RT = Rotten Tomatoes)
IMDb Page: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0058182/
RT Page: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/beatles_a_hard_days_night/