A Hard Day's Night

The Fab Four from Liverpool--John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr--in their first movie. Nobody expected A Hard Day's Night to be much more than a quick exploitation of a passing musical fad, but when the film opened it immediately seduced the world--even the stuffiest critics fell over themselves in praise (highbrow Dwight Macdonald called it "not only a gay, spontaneous, inventive comedy but it is also as good cinema as I have seen for a long time"). Wisely, screenwriter Alun Owen based his script on the Beatles' actual celebrity at the time, catching them in the delirious early rush of Beatlemania: eluding rampaging fans, killing time on trains and in hotels, appearing on a TV broadcast. American director Richard Lester, influenced by the freestyle French New Wave and British Goon Show humor, whips up a delightfully upbeat circus of perpetual motion. From the opening scene of the mop tops rushing through a train station mobbed by fans, the movie rarely stops for air. Some of the songs are straightforwardly presented, but others ("Can't Buy Me Love," set to the foursome gamboling around an empty field) soar with ingenuity. Above all, the Beatles express their irresistible personalities: droll, deadpan, infectiously cheeky. Better examples of pure cinematic joy are few and far between. --Robert Horton

Year:
1964
1,225 Views

Simon Marshall:
We'd like you to give us your opinion on some clothes for teenagers.

George:
Oh, by all means. I'd be quite prepared for that eventuality.

Simon Marshall:
Well, not your real opinion, naturally. It'll be written out, and you'll learn it. Can he read?

George:
'Course I can.

Simon Marshall:
I mean lines, ducky, can you handle lines?

George:
Well, I'll have a bash.

Simon Marshall:
Good. Give him whatever it is they drink, uh, Coke-a-rama?

George:
Ta.

Simon Marshall:
Well, at least he's polite. Show him the shirts, Adrian. [Adrian, Simon's assistant, hands George some shirts] Now, you'll like these. You'll really "dig" them. They're "fab," and all the other pimply hyperboles.

George:
[Gives the shirts to Dolly, the secretary, unimpressed] I wouldn't be seen dead in them. They're dead grotty.

Simon Marshall:
"Grotty"?

George:
Yeah, grotesque.

Simon Marshall:
[To Dolly] Make a note of that word and give it to Susan. It's rather touching, really. Here's this kid, trying to give me his utterly valueless opinion, when I know for a fact that within a month, he'll be suffering from a violent inferiority complex and loss of status, because he isn't wearing one of these nasty things! Of course they're grotty, you wretched nit. That's why they were designed! But that's what you'll want.

George:
I won't.

Simon Marshall:
You can be replaced, chickie baby.

George:
I don't care.

Simon Marshall:
And that pose is out too, Sonny Jim. The new thing is to care passionately and be right-wing. Anyway, if you don't cooperate, you won't meet Susan.

George:
And who's this Susan when she's at home?

Simon Marshall:
Only Susan Canby, our resident teenager. You'll have to love her, she's your symbol.

George:
Oh, you mean that posh bird who gets everything wrong?

Simon Marshall:
I beg your pardon?

George:
Oh, yeah. The lads frequently sit 'round the television and watch her for a giggle. In fact, once, we all sat down and wrote these letters, saying how gear she was and all that rubbish.

Simon Marshall:
She's a trendsetter. It's her profession!

George:
She's a drag - a well-known drag. We turn the sound down on her and say rude things.

Simon Marshall:
[horrified] Get him out of here...

George:
Have I said something amiss?

Simon Marshall:
Get him out! He's knocking the program's image!

George:
Sorry about the shirts!

Simon Marshall:
Get him out!

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