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Hard Day's Night
Richard Lester, UK, 1964
Monday 12 December 2005 10.05pm-11.30pm

Richard Lester's snapshot of mid-1960s Beatlemania starts with a bang, as John, Paul, George and Ringo dash down the road chased by hysterical fans. From here on, our suited, booted and mop-topped heroes rush from one comic vignette to another en route to a gig for a TV variety show.


   Head (Bob Rafelson, 1968)

   Yellow Submarine (George Dunning, 1968)

   I Wanna Hold Your Hand (Robert Zemeckis, 1978)

The police and the adoring fans are often in hot pursuit and the band's exploits are continually frowned upon by a supporting cast of fuddy-duddies. What's more, there's Paul's grandpa to contend with. Nevertheless, the lads find time to deliver a handful of foot-tapping impromptu performances, which are integrated into the narrative in an innovative fashion.

This nimble-footed film sustains its dizzy pace from the opening sequence right through to the climactic medley of hits. Richard Lester, director of The Knackļæ½And How To Get It, filtered Swinging London through the French New Wave to create a work that stutters with jump cuts, teems with in-jokes and has all the irreverent wit of its eponymous opening number.


  The playwright Joe Orton wrote a screenplay for The Beatles called Up Against It. It was rejected by Brian Epstein.

  Half of the footage shot on the first day was ruined when fans stampeded one of the crew members who was carrying the negative.

Lester's feature offers a motley collection of visual gags: George's shaving lesson and John's disappearance from a bubble bath are the best. Alun Owen and the Beatles themselves scripted the memorably surreal one-liners. When asked if he's a mod or a rocker, Ringo replies "I'm a mocker" summing up the way the film merrily pokes fun at how the era's youth culture was pigeonholed by the media.

This was the group's first film. It was also the first of a new breed of pop/rock movie, which proved both more intelligent and experimental than, say, Expresso Bongo or Girls! Girls! Girls!. As exuberant and irresistible as the Fab Four's early singles, the picture has proven similarly influential, reverberating in many later films including the woeful Spice World released in 1997.

Chris Wiegand

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John   John Lennon
Paul   Paul McCartney
George   George Harrison
Ringo    Ringo Starr


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