Magical Mystery Tour [1967]

This four-disc set includes two feature films and two documentaries (all previously available on DVD). Help! (1965), in which a religious sect is in pursuit of a sacrificial ring stuck on Ringo's finger, is a broad spoof of the spy flicks of the time, with James Bond-like themes and locales. Songs include "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" and "Ticket to Ride." Only two years later but strikingly different in mood and tone, Magical Mystery Tour (1967) is chiefly a series of psychedelic music videos, including "Fool on the Hill," "I Am the Walrus," and "Blue Jay Way," loosely organized around a plot of a bus trip through the English countryside. The Beatles: The First U.S. Visit is an 83-minute black-and-white documentary by acclaimed directing brothers Albert and David Maysles that captures the group's trip to the U.S. in February 1964. It includes plenty of songs as performed on The Ed Sullivan Show, of course, as well as footage of the band riding the train or sitting in their hotel room watching television coverage of themselves. A subsequent performance in Washington, D.C., suffers from grainier footage and spotty microphones, but still captures the frenzy of the fans. You Can't Do That!: The Making of "A Hard Day's Night" is an hourlong documentary that traces the creation of the historic 1964 film. Hosted by Phil Collins, who appeared in the original among a crowd of screaming teenagers, the film features extensive clips and interviews with those involved with the movie (though George Harrison is the only Beatle whose voice is heard). A highlight is "You Can't Do That," a performance that was cut from the original film. Obviously, a perfect DVD set would include A Hard Day's Night itself, but rights issues have kept it out of circulation. --David Horiuchi

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