Wednesday, 11 April 2018

A Hard Day's Night (1964)

En hård dags nat
How many songs do you know by The Beatles? 5? 10, maybe? 50? Personally I haven’t got a clue. Say a number and it is probably more. I grew up in the eighties, long after The Beatles broke up, but still I can say I grew up with The Beatles. They were everywhere. In the radio, in the song books, in television, on the record shelves of friend’s parents and as teenagers we would re-discover their music and share its youthfulness as had we been our parents generation. No other band has had that sort of longevity, at least not with me. But it goes beyond that. I keep discovering songs I like only to find out that this song is also a Beatles song.  I hear Beatles songs I feel certain I have never heard before and yet they sound familiar because in all likelihood I did hear it many, many years ago.

And I am pretty sure I am not the only one.

Strangely enough I never saw “A Hard Day’s Night” before, at least not in its entirety, but the songs are quite familiar. So, watching this I could combine the joy of a first viewing with the comfort of familiarity. I felt spoiled.

Obviously “A Hard Day’s Night” is a vehicle for The Beatles. The storyline is about the thinnest possible. It is basically a day in the life of the band. They are taking the train to London to appear in a televised show. To get there they have to escape a horde of screaming girls and deal with inane questions from journalists (Journalist: How did you find America? Lennon: Turn left after Greenland). The producers of the show are going nuts because of the antics of the band and finally they get to play. That is not really a lot, but sprinkled throughout are a number of zany subplots. Paul’s grandfather (a very clean man) is constantly causing mischief. The manager and the road manager have an ongoing argument abut being taller than each other and the band members tend to wander off.  George ends up with a marketing dude who is very impressed with himself and Ringo, encouraged by Paul’s grandfather, deserts the band to find the real life in the streets. This happens to end in a Keaton-scale police chase.

It is sweet and fun and very light and helped a lot by the four Beatles members being very sympathetic characters. There are also threads to a Monty Python style sort of comedy that is quite appealing. But at the end of the day, what really matters is the music. Rather than spontaneously braking into song, the music bits slide almost naturally into the action, basically by the band taking every opportunity to sing a song or as backing music to the action on the screen. It works very well and rather than being a musical this is a movie about a band playing music.

The music is great. In fact the rest does not matter, having the music is easily enough. Of the twelve songs used in the movie six of them were new material made specifically for this movie to be used as a soundtrack album. Normally I would think that such songs mainly would be filler compared to the “greatest hits” that would make up the rest, especially given the very short time Lennon and McCartney had to come up with them, but that is not the case at all. Every single one of them is a classic and are in my opinion better than their previous material. Especially the title song which is one of my all-time favorite Beatles songs.

The second disc of the Criterion edition I got contains a wealth of information and anecdotes of the movie. Somewhat repetitive though, by the third behind the scenes feature I felt I knew everything worth knowing about this particular movie. The historic account of the Beatles up to the point of the movie is very interesting though and well worth visiting for its own sake.

Rather than saying this was a good movie I would say that this was a movie I greatly enjoyed watching and I could easily see it again. Highly recommended. Very highly.

And now to something completely different… I have just returned from The States with my family and want to share with you the launch of the Falcon rocket last week as seen from Kennedy Space Center. I hope this works…
ups... Blogger has a maximum size of 100 MB so instead you may have to download it from here instead:



  1. Just hearing the opening chord to "A Hard Day's Night" puts me in a beautiful place. The sound has never been successfully duplicated it seems to me.

    For some reason I'm not seeing your rocket launch unfortunately.

    1. Exactly, that first chord and I am on.

      I will try finding another way to post the movie. It worked well enough on facebook.

  2. I'm a big Beatles fan. Give me enough time and I could probably name at least 100 of their songs.

    I love this movie, too, because it's so joyous in so many ways. There's no real plot, but it doesn't matter at all.

    Also, most of the Beatles movies end up being about Ringo for whatever reason.

    1. Yes, it is incredible how many of their songs have become classics and this movie has its share of them. this was a lot of fun.

  3. The Criterion release I like very much. Plenty of extras there. I think A Hard Day’s Night dates very well and is a great record of Beatlemania at its height. Help! does not date so well for me, but I may need to give that one another shot.

    1. I never saw the Help! movie, but I know the album well enough. With that music the movie should not be too bad.