Saturday, May 08, 2010

Did the Beatles Know How to Read Music?

The Beatles never did learn to read or write music using traditional notation, and by all accounts were happy with that fact. Music was a discovery process for them that did not involve any books -- they once traveled across town for someone to teach them a B7 guitar chord. John Lennon's mother taught him banjo chords; they lasted with him through his early Quarry Men days until Paul McCartney showed him proper guitar chords. George Harrison learned guitar through lessons and painstaking practice. To acquire new material for concerts (mostly cover songs in the early days), they learned largely through listening to records and mimicking the sounds as closely as they could.

When it came to official transcriptions of their music, the Beatles could provide input if necessary, but the transcribing was left to others (e.g. Question: Which of the vocal melodies in "Baby's in Black" is the lead? Answer from Paul: Both). When classical/professional musicians were employed during recording sessions, the Beatles would often sing the melodies and George Martin would transcribe them into sheet music.

For their part, the Beatles liked not knowing how to read sheet music. George Harrison once remarked that he thought if he learned too much of music theory it would ruin the songwriting process in terms of having an innovative ability. Would John have written the strange time signatures of "Good Morning Good Morning" or Paul the interesting modalities of "For No One" as instinctively having the full knowledge of music theory at their fingertips? Perhaps not.

Friday, May 07, 2010


Help! is a 1965 film directed by Richard Lester, starring The Beatles—John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr—and featuring Leo McKern, Eleanor Bron, Victor Spinetti, John Bluthal, Roy Kinnear and Patrick Cargill. The soundtrack was released as an album, also called Help!.


An eastern cult (a parody of the Thuggee cult) is about to sacrifice a woman to the (fictional) goddess 'Kali-li'. Just as she is about to be killed they notice that she is not wearing the sacrificial ring. It's revealed that Ringo Starr, drummer of The Beatles, has it; sent to him by the victim and her sister, who is also the high priestess of the cult (both of whom are fans of The Beatles), and it's on his finger. Determined to retrieve the ring and sacrifice the woman, the great Swami Clang (McKern), the high priestess Ahme (Bron) and several cult members including Bhuta (Bluthal) leave for London. After several failed attempts to steal the ring they confront him in an Indian restaurant. Ringo learns that if he doesn't return the ring soon, he will become the next sacrifice. Ringo then discovers that the ring is stuck on his finger.

Next, they seek a jeweller to remove it but the tools he uses all break on the ring. In a desperate effort to remove the ring, the band resorts to the bumbling efforts of a mad scientist, Foot (Spinetti) and his assistant Algernon (Kinnear). His laboratory is full of surplus British made equipment and Foot despises anything British. When his equipment turns out to have no effect on the ring, Foot decides that he, too, must have it. Before he can do anything else, Ahme comes in with a pink Walther P-38 pistol, rescues the group and they return home.

Ahme, now revealed as being on the group's side, tells the group that her sister's time has passed and she is now out of danger. Ringo is now the sacrifice victim. Ahme proposes to inject Ringo with a potion that is derived from the essence of certain orchids and would shrink his finger so the ring would come off. She tells Ringo to be brave and suggests, to the camera, that if he had been brave; "none of this would have been necessary". End of Part 1.

Intermission: John bobs Ringo up and down like a yo-yo and Paul and George throw darts at the screen. End of Intermission

Part 2: Ahme's sister is given a bathing and a scolding from her mother. End of Part 2.

Part 3-Later that evening: Ringo lies nervously on the couch, waiting for the injection. But before Ahme can proceed, the gang starts to pound on the doors. Startled, Ahme drops the needle into Paul's leg and he shrinks! Cutting from "The Exciting Adventure of Paul on The Floor", the thugs break into the room and a fight ensues. Ahme flees. Ringo is doused with red paint (he has to be painted red in order for him to be sacrificed), thus ruining his best suit and causing him to mock-cry and a swordsman approaches. Foot comes in, shoots a warning shot with his Webley and scares the man away. The gang retreats and Foot makes his attempt to take the ring. Paul unshrinks and John subsequently starts to swing a lamp at Foot who tries to shoot him, but his gun misfires. Blaming this on the fact that the gun is British made, Foot retreats. The boys are left to sort things out.

The band flees to the Austrian Alps for refuge but both thugs and Foot follow in pursuit. As the Beatles participate in a game of curling, Foot and Algernon booby trap one of the curling stones with a bomb. George sees the "fiendish thingy" and tells everyone to run. The bomb eventually goes off after a delay, creating a big hole in the ice in which a swimmer (Mal Evans) emerges and asks directions to the White Cliffs of Dover. Next, Swami skis down a slope that Ahme told him was the way to get to further pursue the Beatles, but turns out to be the take-off ramp for a Ski jumping contest. Swami is the winner, and inadvertently gets held up by receiving a gold medal. The group escapes back to England and they ask for "protection" from Scotland Yard; and get it in the form of a cowardly Inspector (Cargill). After being attacked whilst recording in the middle of Salisbury Plain surrounded by the British Army, they hide in "A Well Known Palace" (Buckingham Palace) until they are almost captured by Foot.

The group step into a small pub, where Swami appears to be working. After being served beer, Ringo can't pick his glass up from the table, so George tips it over, unknowingly opening a trapdoor to the cellar that Swami set up. Inside the cellar is a broken ladder and a tiger. They go summon the Inspector, and tells them to sing the Ode to Joy from Beethoven's 9th Symphony to the tiger in order to tame it, while everyone outside the pub hear the melody, and join in. Disguised, the Beatles take a plane to the Bahamas, followed by Scotland Yard officers, Foot and Clang. After Ringo is nearly captured, the other Beatles pose as him in order to lure the cult members, who are then arrested by the Bahamas Police. Despite their best efforts, Ringo is captured by Foot, who takes him on to a ship intending to cut off his finger to get the ring.

Ahme rescues Ringo by giving Foot the same orchid essence shrinking solution in exchange. The two try to escape the ship by jumping into the water, however Ringo can't swim. They are captured by the cult and tied down on the beach where they are surrounded by two battalions of Kukhri Rifles. Clang begins the ceremony to sacrifice Ringo, after telling him that the cult members are prepared to attack the rest of the Beatles and police when they come to the rescue and that if Ringo attempts to warn them he will die instantly.

Ringo manages to untie himself and tries to wave to his band mates to warn them away. With this act of courage, the ring falls from his finger. He puts the ring on Clang's hand, saying "Get sacrificed! I don't subscribe to your religion!" Ahme declares that Clang will be the next sacrifice, as he is wearing the ring. The movie ends with Help! playing one last time and everyone running around. Clang manages to remove the ring and gives it to Foot and Algernon. They, however, leave the ring in the sand while the police rush about arresting the cult while The Beatles playfully run around; the ring ends up on Bhuta's finger and he becomes the target for sacrifice; meanwhile, Mal Evans swims toward the beach and once again, asks for directions to the White Cliffs of Dover. The movie ends with a dedication to "Elias Howe, who, in 1846, invented the sewing machine".

The credits feature the characters acting up in front of the camera, with the jewel of the ring being placed in front of the lens. The music playing during the credits is the Overture of The Barber of Seville by Gioachino Rossini, with The Beatles adding their own laughing and comments.


The Beatles said the film was inspired by the Marx Brothers classic Duck Soup; it was also directly satirical of the James Bond series of films. At the time of the original release of Help!, its distributor, United Artists, also held the rights to the Bond series (now owned by UA sister studio MGM.)


According to interviews conducted with Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr for The Beatles Anthology, director Richard Lester was given a larger budget for this film than he had for A Hard Day's Night thanks to the commercial success of the latter. Thus, this feature film was in colour and was shot on several exotic foreign locations. It was also given a fuller musical score than A Hard Day's Night, provided by a full orchestra, and including pieces of well known classical music: Wagner's Lohengrin, Act III Overture, Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (Ode to Joy), and, during the end credits and with their own comic vocal interpretation, Rossini's Barber of Seville overture.

Help! was set in London, Salisbury Plain, the Austrian Alps, New Providence Island and Paradise Island in the Bahamas and Twickenham Film Studios, beginning in the Bahamas on 23 February 1965. Starr commented in The Beatles Anthology that they were in the Bahamas for the hot weather scenes, and therefore had to wear light clothing even though it was rather cold. Tony Bramwell, the assistant to Beatles manager Brian Epstein, stated in his book A Magical Mystery Tour that Epstein chose the Bahamas for tax reasons. According to The Beatles Anthology, during the restaurant sequence filmed in early April, George began to discover Indian-style music, which would be a key element in future songs such as Norwegian Wood. Filming finished on 14 April at Ailsa Avenue in Twickenham.

The Beatles did not particularly enjoy the filming of the movie, nor were they pleased with the end product. In 1970, John Lennon said they felt like extras in their own movie.

"The movie was out of our control. With A Hard Day's Night, we had a lot of input, and it was semi-realistic. But with Help!, Dick Lester didn't tell us what it was all about. I realise, looking back, how advanced it was. It was a precursor for the Batman 'Pow! Wow!' on TV -- that kind of stuff. But he never explained it to us. Partly, maybe, because we hadn't spent a lot of time together between A Hard Day's Night and Help!, and partly because we were smoking marijuana for breakfast during that period. Nobody could communicate with us, it was all glazed eyes and giggling all the time. In our own world. It's like doing nothing most of the time, but still having to rise at 7 am, so we became bored."
—John Lennon on filming Help!

A contributing factor was exhaustion attributable to their very busy schedule of writing, recording and touring. Afterwards they were hesitant to begin another film project, and indeed Help! was their last full-length scripted theatrical film. Their obligation for a third film to United Artists was met by the 1970 documentary film Let It Be. The 1968 animated film Yellow Submarine did not meet contractual obligations because it did not star the Beatles themselves, and their only live appearance was featured for less than two minutes at the film's conclusion.

"Haze of marijuana"

The Beatles later said the film was shot in a "haze of marijuana". According to Starr's interviews in The Beatles Anthology, during the Austrian Alps film shooting he and McCartney ran off over the hill from the "curling" scene set to smoke a joint.

"A hell of a lot of pot was being smoked while we were making the film. It was great. That helped make it a lot of fun...In one of the scenes, Victor Spinetti and Roy Kinnear are playing curling: sliding along those big stones. One of the stones has a bomb in it and we find out that it's going to blow up, and have to run away. Well, Paul and I ran about seven miles, we ran and ran, just so we could stop and have a joint before we came back. We could have run all the way to Switzerland. If you look at pictures of us you can see a lot of red-eyed shots; they were red from the dope we were smoking. And these were those clean-cut boys! Dick Lester knew that very little would get done after lunch. In the afternoon we very seldom got past the first line of the script. We had such hysterics that no one could do anything. Dick Lester would say, 'No, boys, could we do it again?' It was just that we had a lot of fun — a lot of fun in those days."
—Ringo Starr

In the Beatles Anthology Director's Cut, Harrison admitted that they were smoking marijuana on the plane ride all the way to the Bahamas.

McCartney also shared some of his memories of when they were filming Help!:
"We showed up a bit stoned, smiled a lot and hoped we'd get through it. We giggled a lot. I remember one time at Cliveden (Lord Astor's place, where the Christine Keeler/Profumo scandal went on); we were filming the Buckingham Palace scene where we were all supposed to have our hands up. It was after lunch, which was fatal because someone might have brought out a glass of wine as well. We were all a bit merry and all had our backs to the camera and the giggles set in. All we had to do was turn around and look amazed, or something. But every time we'd turn round to the camera there were tears streaming down our faces. It's OK to get the giggles anywhere else but in films, because the technicians get pissed off with you. They think, 'They're not very professional.' Then you start thinking, 'This isn't very professional — but we're having a great laugh.'"
—Paul McCartney

"John did once offer me a joint. And I obligingly tried to take a little puff. I knew there was some special way of doing it — but I don't smoke anyway. So I took a little puff and then thought, 'This is so expensive. I mustn't waste it!' And gave it back to him. So that's your definition of naïve, I think."
—Eleanor Bron


The song titles that appear in the film are:

* "Help!"
* "You're Going to Lose That Girl"
* "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away"
* "Ticket to Ride"
* "I Need You"
* "The Night Before"
* "Another Girl"
* "She's A Woman" (heard in the background, on a tape machine, and as an instrumental during the Austrian Alps sequence)
* "A Hard Day's Night" (played by Indian band and as an instrumental)
* "I'm Happy Just to Dance with You" (played by a band during the bike-riding scene)
* "You Can't Do That" (played as an instrumental during the Austrian Alps sequence)

The seven main songs formed the first side of the British release of the Help! album. The second half consisted of other new Beatles songs recorded at the same time.

Critical response

Critical opinion at the time of release was generally positive, but the film has not aged as well as A Hard Day's Night. Leslie Halliwell describes it as an
“ [e]xhausting attempt to outdo A Hard Day's Night in lunatic frenzy, which goes to show that some talents work best on low budgets. The humour is a frantic cross between Hellzapoppin', The Goons, Bugs Bunny and the shade of Monty Python to come. It looks good but becomes too tiresome to entertain. ”

Allmovie's Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr. describes it as
“ ... a forerunner to music videos. ... Lester seemed to find the right tone for Help!, creating an enjoyable portrait of the Beatles and never allowing the film to take itself too seriously. His style would later be co-opted by Bob Rafaelson [sic] for the Monkees' television series in the '60s and has continued to influence rock musicals like Spice World in 1998. ”


A novelization entitled The Beatles in Help! was written by Al Hine and published by Dell in 1965.

A sequence featuring Frankie Howerd and Wendy Richard was filmed but left out of final editing owing to its length. However, the sequence was left in the film novelization.

Release history

Like A Hard Day's Night, Help! was originally distributed theatrically by United Artists - the company handled distribution from 1965 to the end of 1980). In January 1981, rights to the movie reverted from UA to producer Walter Shenson, and the movie was withdrawn from circulation.

Help! was released several times in different video formats by MPI Home Video and The Criterion Collection. On VHS, a version was released during February 1987 through MPI, along with a reissue of A Hard Day's Night the very same day, and was followed by a special-edition release on October 31, 1995. MPI also issued a CLV laserdisc in 1995 and two releases on DVD, the first as a single DVD release on November 12, 1997 and the second as part of The Beatles DVD Collector's Set on August 8, 2000.

LaserDisc releases include a Criterion CAV laserdisc and a Voyager CLV laserdisc in 1987, each of which had three pressings. The first pressings had no UPC code on the gatefold covers while the other two had the UPC code either as a sticker or printed directly on the jacket.

The film's transfer on the CAV laserdiscs was done correctly so that each still frame is motionless and ultrasharp. The supplemental section, which has never been available on any other home video release, contains the following:

* original theatrical trailer (which includes deleted scenes)
* silent footage of the film set and of the world premiere
* still photos, some of which are introduced by text describing the production history of the film
* posters
* sheet music
* record jackets
* radio ads (on audio during the silent footage)
* an open interview, originally designed for disc jockeys. By reading prompts on the screen, one can pretend to talk to the Beatles.

In June 2007, a version of Help!, sub-titled in Korean, became available on However, by July 2007, all home video versions of the film were pulled from the market because of rights issues involving Apple Corps - now the full rights holders to the film. The rights issues were finally resolved and Apple Corps/EMI released a new double DVD version with a fully restored film negative and newly remixed in 2.0 stereo and 5.1 surround sound of the film. This came in standard 2xDVD packaging and 2xDVD deluxe edition box set on October 30, 2007 in the UK and November 6, 2007 in America.


Thursday, May 06, 2010

Paul McCartney on "Eleanor Rigby" vs. "Yesterday"

"The only similar thing between 'Eleanor Rigby' and 'Yesterday' is that we used strings on both recordings. Apart from that similarity there is nothing else remotely the same to me. I think they're completely different kinds of tunes. I also think that I sang 'Yesterday' a lot better than 'Eleanor Rigby.' It sounds terrible. Listen to it. It's pretty bad."

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Beatles Covers: Stereophonics and Oasis - I'm Only Sleeping

Paul McCartney on "Hey Jude"

"I happened to be driving out to see Cynthia Lennon. I think it was just after John and she had broken up, and I was quite mates with Julian. He's a nice kid, Julian. And I was going out in me car just vaguely singing this song, and it was like, 'Hey Jules.' I don't know why 'Hey Jules.' It was just this thing, you know, 'Don't make it bad/Take a sad song . . .' And then I just thought a better name was Jude. A bit more country and western for me.

"Once you get analyzing something and looking into it, things do begin to appear and things do begin to tie in. Because everything ties in, and what you get depends on your approach to it. You look at everything with a black attitude and it's all black."

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Paul McCartney's Thoughts on Drugs

"There's a story that sums up the whole drugs thing. When I went out to LA at the time of that Pussy Cats album, I was offered angel dust. 'What is it?' and they said, 'It's an elephant tranquiliser,' and I said to the guy, 'Is it fun?' He thought for a moment and said, 'No, it's not fun.'

"So, I said, 'Okay, I won't have any then.' That sums it up, you know. You had anything, man, even if it wasn't fun! You sort of had to do it -- peer pressure . . . I remember John going on Old Grey Whistle Test and saying, 'Paul only took [LSD] four times! We all took it twenty times!' It was as if you'd score points."
-October 1986

Pattie Boyd's Beauty Tips #2: Let's Talk About Your Face

Now it's time to talk about your face--it's care and beauty treatment. First off, you all know that cleanliness is a prime requisite when it comes to having a pretty face. Many of us have skin problems from time to time, and may require special creams or medicated make-up to keep those pimples from "bubbling" up. Serious skin problems, such as acne, should be treated by a doctor. Oily skin and blackheads can be combatted on a personal level by washing your face at least twice a day with a mild soap (rinse thoroughly), and by watching your diet. Foods that invite pimples and oily skin are soda pop, fried things, chocolate and coconut. Just about all the things we really love, eh? Well, if you want to have pretty skin, you just may have to make a few sacrifices.

A girl with normal skin should not wear much make-up. It looks silly on a young teener, and the boys can't stand it. Here is what I do:

My skin is too far for a foundation cream, so I use only a little on my lips. I sort of make them the color of my face--and I'll tell you why later. If your skin isn't even-colored and fair, you may use a light foundation. You can buy good ones in the dime store. Drop a drop or two on the inside of your wrist right there in the store and see how well it blends in with your skin tone. After a bit of testing, you will surely find one that seems right for you.

Apply very little foundation to each cheek (with clean hands) and blend it into your skin with the gentle upward motions of your fingertips. It will take a little practice, but if you try you will soon have it down pat. If your skin is too oily for a foundation, I suggest a light powder or a fine coat of pancake make-up. This is put on with a damp sponge and should be exactly the color of your skin, so that it won't look like "make-up."

I have a roundish face, so the next thing I do is try to elongate my cheek lines. I have a large rouge brush which I lightly twirl in blush rouge and then gently dust some along each cheek just above the jaw bone. This gives the illusion of having a thinner, better-shaped face.

Now, let's get back to the lips. After eyes, this is the first thing a boy notices about a girl. As I told you before, I put natural foundation on my lips. Then I take a moist, natural pomade (you can buy it in tubes or in the jar) and lightly tap it on my lips. This makes them look completely natural, yet shiny. If I know I am going to be in a place where the lights are dim, I may use a little of the lightest pink lipstick I can find. Anything else looks ghastly on me.

As I said before, each of you will have to experiment a bit as you work out your own make-up problems. It's well worth the go, you know--and I wish you the best of look and lots of beauty!

Monday, May 03, 2010

John Lennon on the American Versions of the Beatles' Albums

"We would carefully sequence the material, you know, the songs, and have it just the way we felt it should sound for an album. We would put a lot of thought and work into the process and then we'd come over to America . . . and hear what they had done and it would drive us crazy!"

Sunday, May 02, 2010

A Hard Day's Night

A Hard Day's Night is a 1964 British comedy film written by Alun Owen starring The Beatles—John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr—during the height of Beatlemania. It was directed by Richard Lester and originally released by United Artists. The film was made in the style of a mock documentary, describing a couple of days in the lives of the group.

It was successful both financially and critically; it was rated by Time magazine as one of the all-time great 100 films. British critic Leslie Halliwell described it as a "comic fantasia with music; an enormous commercial success with the director trying every cinematic gag in the book" and awarded it a full four stars. The film is credited with having influenced 1960s spy films, The Monkees' television show and pop music videos.


The screenplay was written by Alun Owen, who was chosen because the Beatles were familiar with his play No Trams to Lime Street, and he had shown an aptitude for Liverpudlian dialogue. McCartney commented, "Alun hung around with us and was careful to try and put words in our mouths that he might've heard us speak, so I thought he did a very good script." Owen spent several days with the group, who told him their lives were like "a train and a room and a car and a room and a room and a room"; the character of Paul's grandfather refers to this in the dialogue. Owen wrote the script from the viewpoint that the Beatles had become prisoners of their own fame, their schedule of performances and studio work having become punishing.


Halliwell encapsulates the plot as "Harassed by their manager and Paul's grandpa, the Beatles embark from Liverpool by train for a London TV show." Having escaped a horde of fans, once aboard the train and trying to relax, various interruptions begin to test their patience, prompting George to go to the goods van for some peace and quiet.

On arrival in London, The Beatles are driven to a hotel where they feel trapped. After a night out during which Paul's grandfather causes minor trouble at a casino, the group are taken to the theatre where their performance is to be filmed. The preparations are lengthy so Ringo decides to spend some time alone reading a book. Paul's grandfather, a "villain, a real mixer," convinces him that he should be outside experiencing life instead of reading books, so Ringo goes off by himself. He tries to have a quiet drink in a pub, walks alongside a canal and at one point rides a bicycle along a railway station platform. Meanwhile, the rest of the band frantically (and unsuccessfully) attempts to find Ringo. Finally, however, he returns, after being arrested by the police along with Paul's grandfather, and the concert goes ahead as planned.

The Beatles comment cheekily on their own fame: for instance, at one point a fan recognizes John Lennon (even though neither the fan nor he actually mention Lennon's name); he demurs, saying his face isn't quite right, with the fan eventually agreeing. When Ringo is asked if he's a Mod or a Rocker, he replies "Uh, no, I'm a mocker." The frequent reference to McCartney's grandfather as a "clean old man" contrasts with the Steptoe and Son stock description of Wilfrid Brambell's character, Albert Steptoe, as a "dirty old man."


The film was shot for United Artists using a cinéma vérité style in black-and-white and produced over a period of sixteen weeks. It had a low budget for its time of £200,000 ($500,000) and filming was finished in six weeks. Unlike most productions, it was filmed in near sequential order, as stated by Lennon in 1964. Filming began at Paddington Station on 2 March 1964, the Beatles having only joined the actors' union, Equity, that morning. The first week of filming was on a train traveling between London and Minehead. On 10 March, scenes with Ringo were shot at the Turk's Head pub in Twickenham, and over the following week various interior scenes were filmed at Twickenham Studios. From 23 to 30 March, filming moved to the Scala Theatre, and on 31 March, concert footage was shot there, although the group mimed to backing tracks. Among the 350 audience members was Phil Collins, who was a 13-year-old child actor at the time. The "Can't Buy Me Love" segment, which featured creative camera work and the band running and jumping around in a field was shot on 23 April 1964 at Thornbury Playing Fields, Isleworth, Middlesex. The final scene was filmed the following day in West Ealing, London, where Ringo obligingly drops his coat over puddles for a lady to step on, only to discover that the final puddle is actually a large hole in the road.

Before A Hard Day’s Night was released in America, a United Artists executive asked Lester to dub the voices of the group with mid-Atlantic accents. McCartney angrily replied, “Look, if we can understand a fuckin' cowboy talking Texan, they can understand us talking Liverpool.” Lester subsequently directed the Beatles' 1965 film, Help! and later several popular films, including The Three Musketeers and Superman II.


Wilfrid Brambell, who played Paul McCartney's fictional grandfather John McCartney, was already well-known to British audiences as co-star of the British sitcom Steptoe and Son. The recurring joke that he was so clean is because in the sitcom he was always referred to as a dirty old man. Norman Rossington played the Beatles' manager and John Junkin was "Shake", their road manager. Brian Epstein, their real manager, had an uncredited bit part.

The supporting cast included Richard Vernon as the 'city gent' on the train, Lionel Blair as a featured dancer and Victor Spinetti as the television director. Cameos included David Langton, John Bluthal as a car thief and an uncredited Derek Nimmo as magician Leslie Jackson. David Janson played the small boy met by Ringo on his "walkabout".

Charlotte Rampling and Phil Collins made their screen debuts in this film as a dancer and a boy in the concert audience respectively. George Harrison met his wife-to-be, Pattie Boyd, on the set when she made a brief (uncredited) appearance as one of the schoolgirls on the train. His initial overtures to her were spurned because she had a boyfriend at the time but he persisted and they were married within 18 months. The girl with Boyd in the dining car scene is Prudence Bury.


The film premiered at The Pavilion Theatre in London on 6 July 1964—the eve of Ringo Starr's 24th birthday—and its soundtrack of the same name was released four days later. It was The Beatles' first soundtrack album. Reviews of the film were mostly positive; one oft-quoted assessment was provided by Village Voice, which labeled A Hard Day’s Night "the Citizen Kane of jukebox musicals." Time magazine called the film "One of the smoothest, freshest, funniest films ever made for purposes of exploitation." Film critic Roger Ebert described the film as "one of the great life-affirming landmarks of the movies." In 2004, Total Film magazine named A Hard Day's Night the 42nd greatest British film of all time. In 2005, named it one of the 100 best films of the last 80 years. Leslie Halliwell gave the film his highest rating, four stars, the only British film of 1964 to achieve that accolade. It has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 71 sources, and it was placed in #1 position on its list of Best Reviewed Movies of All Time.

New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther noted the film was a subtle satire on the image of rock-and-roll music (and the Beatles in particular) as a source of youth rebellion and defiance of authority. The Beatles are portrayed as likable young lads who are constantly amazed at the attention they receive and who want nothing more than a little peace and quiet; however, they have to deal with screaming crowds, journalists who ask nonsensical questions, and authority figures who constantly look down upon them. In fact their biggest problem is McCartney's elderly, but "clean" grandfather, played by Wilfrid Brambell.

A Hard Day's Night was nominated for two Academy Awards; for Best Screenplay (Alun Owen), and Best Score (Adaptation) (George Martin).


British critic Leslie Halliwell states the film's influence as "... it led directly to all the kaleidoscopic swinging London spy thrillers and comedies of the later sixties..." In particular, the visuals and storyline are credited with inspiring The Monkees' television series. The "Can't Buy Me Love" segment borrowed stylistically from Richard Lester's earlier The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film and it is this segment, in particular using the innovative technique of cutting the images to the beat of the music, which has been cited as a precursor of modern music videos. Roger Ebert goes even further, crediting Lester for a more pervasive influence, even constructing "a new grammar": "he influenced many other films. Today when we watch TV and see quick cutting, hand-held cameras, interviews conducted on the run with moving targets, quickly intercut snatches of dialogue, music under documentary action and all the other trademarks of the modern style, we are looking at the children of A Hard Day's Night."


The movie's strange title originated from something said by Ringo Starr, who described it this way in an interview with disc jockey Dave Hull in 1964: "We went to do a job, and we'd worked all day and we happened to work all night. I came up still thinking it was day I suppose, and I said, 'It's been a hard day...' and I looked around and saw it was dark so I said, '...night!' So we came to A Hard Day's Night."

According to Lennon in a 1980 interview with Playboy magazine: "I was going home in the car and Dick Lester suggested the title, 'Hard Day's Night' from something Ringo had said. I had used it in In His Own Write, but it was an off-the-cuff remark by Ringo. You know, one of those malapropisms. A Ringo-ism, where he said it not to be funny... just said it. So Dick Lester said, 'We are going to use that title.'"

In a 1994 interview for The Beatles Anthology, however, McCartney disagreed with Lennon's recollections, recalling that it was the Beatles, and not Lester, who had come up with the idea of using Starr's verbal misstep: "The title was Ringo's. We'd almost finished making the film, and this fun bit arrived that we'd not known about before, which was naming the film. So we were sitting around at Twickenham studios having a little brain-storming session... and we said, 'Well, there was something Ringo said the other day.' Ringo would do these little malapropisms, he would say things slightly wrong, like people do, but his were always wonderful, very lyrical... they were sort of magic even though he was just getting it wrong. And he said after a concert, 'Phew, it's been a hard day's night.'"

Yet another version of events appeared in 1996; producer Walter Shenson said that Lennon had described to him some of Starr's funnier gaffes, including "a hard day's night", whereupon Shenson immediately decided that that was going to be the title of the film.

The film was titled Tutti Per Uno (All for One) in Italy, Quatre Garçons Dans Le Vent (Four Boys In The Wind) in France and Yeah! Yeah! Tässä tulemme! (Yeah! Yeah! Here We Come!) in Finland.


In 1964, Pan Books published a novelization of the film by author John Burke, described as "based on the original screenplay by Alun Owen". The book was priced at two shillings and sixpence and contained an 8-page section of photographs from the movie.


All tracks credited to John Lennon and Paul McCartney, except where noted.

* "A Hard Day's Night"
* "I Should Have Known Better"
* "I Wanna Be Your Man" (sample)
* "Don't Bother Me" (Harrison) (sample)
* "All My Loving" (sample)
* "If I Fell"
* "Can't Buy Me Love"
* "And I Love Her"
* "I'm Happy Just to Dance with You"
* "Tell Me Why"
* "She Loves You"

Song notes

* "I'll Cry Instead" was intended for the film but was cut, later appearing in a prologue for a 1980s reissue by Universal Pictures.
* "You Can't Do That" was also filmed as part of the concert, but was cut from the film's final version; some of the footage can be seen on the documentary The Making of "A Hard Day's Night".
* In addition to the soundtrack album, an EP (in mono) of songs from the film titled Extracts From The Film A Hard Day's Night was released by Parlophone (GEP 8920) on 6 November 1964, having the following tracks:

o Side A
1. "I Should Have Known Better"
2. "If I Fell"

o Side B
1. "Tell Me Why"
2. "And I Love Her"

* Despite the inclusion of a sample from George Harrison's "Don't Bother Me", the closing credits include the note "All songs by John Lennon and Paul McCartney".
* Those with perfect pitch will note that many of the songs in the film ("If I Fell", "And I Love Her", "I'm Happy Just to Dance With You", "Tell Me Why") have been reduced in pitch by approximately one semitone compared to the "A Hard Day's Night" album. The recording of "She Loves You" in the film is the same recording as the single release; it, too, has been lowered in pitch by one semitone.

Release history

* 1964: A Hard Day's Night was released by United Artists;

* 1979: Rights to the film were transferred to its producer, Walter Shenson;

* 1982: Shenson granted rights to Universal Pictures for a cinematic reissue. Universal added a prologue consisting of a montage of photographic stills from the film shoot edited to a soundtrack of the song "I'll Cry Instead", a recording once considered for the film and included on the US soundtrack album but eventually not used;

* 1984:, MPI Home Video, under license from Shenson, first released A Hard Day's Night on home video in the VHS, Betamax and Laserdisc formats, which all included the prologue.
o The movie was also released by Criterion in both a single-disc CLV and a dual-disc CAV Laserdisc format. The additional features section on the CAV edition include the original theatrical trailer, an interview with Richard Lester, and his The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film.

* 1993: Voyager Company produced a Mac format CD-ROM with most of Criterion's elements, including the original script. It was briefly issued by MPI on DVD without any additional content.

* 2000: Miramax Films reissued the film in theatres in the United States and then as a collector's edition DVD two years later, as well as its final issue in the VHS format. The film had been transferred from the restored 35 mm negative and presented in 1.66:1 Widescreen. The prologue that Universal added in 1982 is absent on Miramax releases.

* In addition to the original film, the DVD edition contained a bonus disc with over 7 hours of additional material including interviews with cast and crew members and Beatles associates. The DVD was produced by Beatles historian and producer Martin Lewis, a longtime friend of Shenson.

* The film has been released on Blu-ray Disc in Canada, however this disc is region free and will play in any Blu-ray machine.

40th anniversary cast and crew reunion screening

On 6 July 2004, the 40th anniversary of the film's world premiere, a private cast and crew reunion screening was hosted in London by DVD producer Martin Lewis. The screening was attended by McCartney, actors Victor Spinetti, John Junkin, David Janson and many crew members. In media interviews at the event, McCartney disclosed that while he had seen the film many times on video, he had not seen the film on the 'big screen' since its 1964 premiere.