DVD Movie Review: A Hard Day’s Night (1964)

BeatlesWe at Picturenose would never boast that we have the world’s finest film critics. But we have some of the most honest (honest, guv). What other website gives you critics that openly admit their age? This writer mused on this when revisiting, and loving, A Hard Day’s Night(1964) the other day and hoping that he looks as good at 50 as this stunning film.

Too much ink has been expended on The Beatles to bother with the music in this, their first picture- but what, without the music, would they have been in the first place? Suffice it to say that little of their output of any kind was as indicative of what they meant to their era as this movie which, I would propose, is not only the finest rock movie of all time – prior to This Is Spinal Tap (1984), anyway – but at the time of production was possibly the best British film yet made. In terms of direction, scripting, but also in terms of sheer innovation and freshness, it had no peer.

It was unarguably the finest hour of American director Richard Lester, an expat who found in 60s Britain an outlet for his penchant for groovily zany, in-your-face comedy, often harking back to 20s and 30s Hollywood. Rarely can a script (by Alan Owen), a director and subjects for a documentary (the Beatles themselves, ostensibly in an archetypal ‘day in the life’ neo-verite project) have come together at such an opportune moment in time.

One superb line says it all – a City gent, played by Richard Vernon, confronts the lads in full lovable-Scouse cry: “I fought the war for people like you.” John wiseacres back: “I bet you’re sorry you won!” And the gradual demolition of Victor Spinetti’s old-school TV director is a thing of joy, as is Wilfrid Brambell playing to type as Paul’s horrible old grandad, tagging along with the band for a spree in ‘that London’.

In the vernacular of the period, it’s gear, daddy-o.

87 mins.

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