A Hard Day's Night (1964)
A Day in their Life
Having escaped screaming fans The Beatles board a train for London accompanied by Paul's Grandfather (Wilfrid Brambell), his other Grandfather, and along the way lark about until they reach London. Picked up at the station and driven to their hotel being cooped up inside gets to them so along with Grandfather the Fab Four head out for a night on the town and more trouble. Then the next day when the band head to the TV studio to record their appearance Grandfather persuades Ringo to go outside and when the rest of The Beatles can't find him chaos ensues.
If someone asked me to watch a movie featuring a day in the life of say One Direction or Take That or even Guns n Roses I would say no, not because I have anything against the bands but just the thought of spending 90 minutes with singers trying to act is not my thing. Yet one of my favourite movies of all time is "A Hard Day's Night" despite the fact I was not born until the early 70s and seeing it for the first time in the late 80s. Technically I should not like it but rather than feeling like following a group of pop stars around it feels like a comedy with 4 comedians playing the part of pop stars surrounded by other comedians.
Now because I didn't experience "A Hard Day's Night" until long after the movie was made I can't say what impact it must have had back in 1964 as The Beatles were still on the rise or how different it must have felt with its mix of comedy combined with music video moments. What I can say is that whether you are a fan of The Beatles or not the flow of humour through out the movie is what makes it and whilst you get a sense they started with a story, some ideas of scenes and some jokes director Richard Lester just told The Beatles to be themselves. It is the natural way they mess about and wind each other up which makes it still such a joy and why whilst other bands may try to imitate "A Hard Day's Night" they won't ever come close because The Beatles had chemistry which you just can't fake.
But "A Hard Day's Night" also features a wonderful supporting cast with the likes of Norman Rossington, John Junkin and Victor Spinetti. But whilst "A Hard Day's Night" works because of The Beatles, their chemistry and their songs it also works because of Wilfrid Brambell as Grandfather. There was no one better than Brambell at playing a comically devious old man and the scene in the casino where he masquerades as a waiter to steal a payment from another customer is as funny as any of the jokes from The Beatles.
What this all boils down to is that you don't need to be a fan of The Beatles to enjoy "A Hard Day's Life" because it works simply as a comedy about a group of musicians and the escapades they have during a trip to London. Of course there is the music side as well and even though I am not a huge Beatles fan the spacing of the songs is just right so that it doesn't annoy and become one long music video.
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