Friday, March 18, 2011

Birth of the Beatles

Birth of The Beatles is a 1979 biopic TV movie, produced by Dick Clark's company (Dick Clark Productions) and directed by Richard Marquand.

The film

The film focuses on the early history of 1960s rock band The Beatles. It originally appeared on the ABC television network. The soundtrack was recorded by the Beatles tribute band "Rain." The guitar and vocal parts for Lennon were performed by Eddie Lineberry, McCartney's parts by Chuck Coffey, Harrison's by Bill Connearney and Starr's by Steve Wight.

While the program was entertaining, and included most of the expected elements to a dramatization of the Beatles story, the movie suffers faults on many levels. Events are often telescoped to make the most of the time allotted, background details are assumed more often than investigated (and thus are frequently inaccurate), and the actors are plainly not experienced musicians, as shows whenever the Beatles and other bands appear onstage. (An "audition" scene introducing Pete Best's character, by sharp contrast, shows a drum flair the real Best never exhibited on any surviving recordings from the period.) Many of the familiar Beatle guitars (made by Rickenbacker, Hofner, and Gretsch, among others) are conspicuously absent.

Pete Best's help

Pete Best served as a technical adviser for the production. The film tends to reflect Best's personal account of certain events, and shows some evidence of bias. The movie implies that Best was terminated from the band because of resentment toward Best's popularity in Liverpool at the time. In one scene the band are referred to by John Lennon as "Peter Best and his sods" and makes no mention of dissatisfaction with his playing, which has been thoroughly documented, even during the band's early years. George Martin has repeatedly stated that he was not satisfied with the caliber of Best's drumming at the band's EMI audition, and wanted the drum parts played by a studio drummer for future recordings. Ringo Starr, already a longtime friend of the band, proved a better personal and musical match. (Incidentally, Martin also prohibited Starr from playing drums on an early recording session for 'Love Me Do' replacing him with session player Andy White).

However, it must be noticed that there are several accounts that confirm this version of the events, since it has been well documented that Best's popularity with fans was indeed a source of friction, as many female fans considered Best to be the band's best-looking member, and there was one particular event where, after a gig, Best was surrounded at the stage door afterward by attentive females while the other members were ignored after signing a few autographs. McCartney's father, Jim McCartney, was present at the time and admonished Best by saying: "Why did you have to attract all the attention? Why didn't you call the other lads back? I think that was very selfish of you."

The movie received modest ratings when it premiered on American television, and was repeated in December 1980, as a tribute to John Lennon in the weeks after his murder. It later repeated on CBS, on The CBS Late Movie during the 1980s.

A more recent (and less comprehensive, dealing mainly with Stuart Sutcliffe and the band's days in Hamburg, Germany) dramatization of the early Beatles years is the 1994 movie Backbeat.

European version

A European version exists, and is a different cut from the American version. The following changes were made to the European version:

1. Some of the dialogue and text in this version is different.
2. The opening narration is now done by a British narrator, with the opening text superimposed on a black screen as opposed to a blue screen.
3. The prologue, which includes John saying that he wants to see Mickey Mouse is omitted.
4. The opening theme song is "My Bonnie" instead of "She Loves You."
5. A scene in an art school with a naked woman is included.
6. The scenes where The Beatles perform at the Kaiserkeller are longer. They also include two additional song scenes: "Kansas City" and "Shake, Rattle and Roll" (the former has them trip on the stage floor, while the latter has them break it).
7. The scene where they find Stuart badly beaten has extra dialogue. It also fleshes out Stuart's refusal to see a doctor even more, unlike the regular versions where it abruptly cuts right after John says "Let's get him to a hospital," making the viewer think that Stuart went to a hospital after he got badly beaten, when it's clear that he didn't.
8. The scene where Stuart and Astrid have their moment in bed together is different. The other version has him showing her her new necklace, while this version, has the two of them making love to each other.
9. John's bedroom scene with Stuart has extra shots of the others in bed.
10. The scene where they first talk to Brian Epstein is a little bit longer.
11. The scene where Brian goes to find The Beatles performing "Love me Do" at a venue is longer.
12. The scene where Brian goes to tell the Beatles about George Martin and EMI, has him getting out of a taxi.
13. In the scene where Cynthia tell John about expecting a baby, John asks her "What are we gonna call him?"
14. The scene where the Beatles arrive at New York City is longer.
15. The end credits feature "She Loves You", instead of "My Bonnie."


* Stephen MacKenna .... John Lennon
* Rod Culbertson .... Paul McCartney
* John Altman .... George Harrison
* Ray Ashcroft .... Ringo Starr
* Ryan Michael .... Pete Best
* David Nicholas Wilkinson .... Stuart Sutcliffe
* Brian Jameson .... Brian Epstein
* Nigel Havers .... George Martin
* Wendy Morgan .... Cynthia Lennon


No comments: