Friday, June 24, 2011

A Hard Day's Night (Lester. 1964)

"It's been a hard day's night. And I've been working like a dog."


I love The Beatles. They have been my favorite band since I was six years old. Everything they did is put onto a higher pedestal by me. A Hard Day’s Night is no exception to that statement. This is a film that not only helped solidify The Beatles as enormous popular culture icons, but it also created one of the many lasting visuals of the band from when they could still stand to look at each other.

A Hard Day’s Night gives the audience a comedic and exaggerated look into the everyday life of the Fab Four. The extent of the exaggeration is definitely debatable as the film opens with John, Paul, George and Ringo running from a swarming mob of female fans. Once they escape the crowd, the real plot of the film is revealed with the introduction of Paul’s very clean grandfather.

The senior McCartney is played gleefully by Wilfred Brambell. He is a mixer of sorts, and seems to feel accomplished by starting quarrels between the band mates and the management. He is, if one even exists, the closest thing to an antagonist that The Beatles have to deal with in this film. He is also the source of some of the funniest moments in the film. There is one scene that takes place in the police station after Granddad McCartney is arrested. This particular scene made me laugh out loud from start to finish. He is almost too outlandish to believe, but he mixes everything in with a sardonic, elderly bit of seriousness that helps the moviegoer buy into his character.

But Brambell is not the funniest source of comedy in A Hard Day’s Night. As a Beatles fan I have almost always related better with Paul McCartney, but this film made me really stand and take notice of John Lennon’s natural charisma. He is outstandingly boyish in his role as..himself. Almost everything that he says is a one liner joke or roundabout insult. His scene in the bathtub is another example of laugh out loud hilarity. The majority of his funny moments come at the expense of either his manager or his drummer, Ringo. In fact, it is no doubt that Ringo eventually felt underappreciated as a member of The Beatles. A Hard Day’s Night basically told him that he was useless….at least until the final moments.

Aside from the quirky action and witty dialogue, A Hard Day’s Night also featured some of the best rock and roll music ever written and recorded. Every so often the film breaks out into what can almost be compared to an early version of the music video. Some of the band’s most classic tracks ("Can’t Buy Me Love", "And I Love Her", "Hard Day’s Night") are performed by the band or played in the background. My favorite number in the film is their performance of "If I Fell" – which John starts as a way to calm a cheeky Ringo Starr.

If anything, A Hard Day’s Night serves as an educational look into the popular culture phenomenon known as The Beatles. Other than that, it is also a very funny and entertaining film. We have seen popular artists try and do the same thing that The Beatles and Richard Lester did with this film, but we are usually left with rubbish like Spice World (1997). This is a rare occasion when the star driven cinematic vehicle actually crosses over into the world of legitimate art. Heck, not even The Beatles themselves could ever recapture the magic of A Hard Day’s Night. Some of their next attempts, like Help! (1965) and Magical Mystery Tour (1967) were primarily negatively received.

I would like to point out that you do not have to be a fan of The Beatles to enjoy A Hard Day’s Night. It is a film that will make you laugh, invest you in kooky characters and force your foot to tap with some catchy rock and roll. I personally believe that The Beatles are the greatest band to ever walk the Earth. Their most famous film is also one of the finer comedic works of the 1960s.

A Hard Day’s Night: A

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