The Best of the Beatles

Rod Culbertson, John Altman and Stephen MacKenna in Birth of the Beatles (1979)

As they head by car to the airport to fly to America The Beatles remember back to the beginning when John, Paul and George persuaded Stu to become part of the band despite not being able to play bass. Through the Hamburg years and back to Liverpool where they are approached by Brian Epstein who having seen them play wants to become their manager.

Whilst I am a fan of The Beatles music I'm not a dedicated fan which means whilst I know some of their story I don't know the ins and outs as well as others do. I say this because I watched "Birth of the Beatles" as a movie fan rather than a Beatles fan and I am sure that it will probably be more interesting for those who are dedicated fans. Amongst the things it covers which will be of interest to fans is the sacking of Pete Best and the bringing in of Ringo, which it is worth mentioning as Pete Best was technical adviser for this movie.

Nigel Havers and Brian Jameson in Birth of the Beatles (1979)

Now it has to be said that I have some very mixed feelings about "Birth of the Beatles" as on one hand it is a nice jaunt through The Beatles story covering elements which would later be covered in subsequent movies about The Beatles but also some elements not covered. It also features a lot of great music which whilst performed by the tribute act "Rain" is very good, in fact if you didn't know that it was performed by a tribute act you wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

But as I said I have mixed feelings and they come from the representation of the Fab Four especially early on where we meet Paul, John and George messing about in the streets of Liverpool before ending at the grave of "Rigby". It is seriously cheesy and kind of made me think of the Cliff Richard movies as they mess about, kick a football through a window and joke about it. It just feels exceptionally corny and that element of being corny often crops up again and again. Although some of the corny side is quite amusing, it just feels too much.

As for the acting, well the first thing which struck me was that it was John Altman as George Harrison, who as a Brit I know best for his role of Nick Cotton in "Eastenders". Altman's accent may occasionally go walk abouts but it is a good performance from him as it is by most of the cast but the standout performance is from Stephen MacKenna as John Lennon, getting the accent and mannerisms just right.

What this all boils down to is that "Birth of the Beatles" is both entertaining and interesting even now some 30 years after it was made. But it is a movie with its flaws especially when the humorous elements border on being corny.

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