Editor’s Note: This is the second of what is still likely to be several posts inspired by my Beatles class.
On Tuesday, I turned some innocent clips of the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show into a personal obsession with the evolving definition of “fifteen minutes of fame.” In Thursday’s class, we watched their 1964 movie “A Hard Day’s Night,” which elicited no more profound reaction than “wow, the Beatles have a killer sense of humor.”
Despite ten years of Beatle fandom, I hadn’t seen “A Hard Day’s Night” until today and am embarrassed to admit I didn’t realize the album of the same name was technically a movie soundtrack. The movie is relatively plot-less, but drips with ironic humor. I won’t declare it an all-time favorite, but I definitely enjoyed it and feel that an understanding of their humor adds to my appreciation of their music.
Our professor talked about how the Beatles had vowed not to go the route of Elvis, whose career declined as he took roles in increasingly low-quality films. They brought on Richard Lester as director, who in 1962 directed the similarly sarcastic “It’s Trad, Dad!” (known as “Ring-A-Ding Rhythm” in the United States). Lester’s proven ability to create an irreverent picture, combined with Alun Owen’s sarcastic script, gave the Beatles what they were looking for.
A couple of favorite songs and/or scenes:
George’s performance of “I’m Happy Just to Dance With You,” which is one of the most adorable things I’ve ever seen:
Our entire class pretty much lost it after Ringo’s hilarious mock laugh:
And some sarcastic George for the road (at 0:52):
If you’ve seen this film, I’d be interested to hear how (if at all) it changed your perspective on the band, and what scenes or lines you especially enjoyed.
*Poster image found here.