Archive for 1964

A Hard Day’s Night

Posted in Comedy, Music, Musical with tags on July 25, 2014 by Mark Hobin

A Hard Day's Night photo starrating-4stars.jpgIt was fifty years ago today…well August 11, 1964 to be exact….that the picture A Hard Day’s Night was unleashed onto the American public. The soundtrack was The Beatles’ third studio album. Beatlemania was already in full swing and the teen public’s hunger for anything having to do with the British phenomenon was insatiable.

After signing them to a 3 picture deal, United Artists could have put anything out with John, Paul, George and Ringo in it and it would’ve been a success.  The surprise was that A Hard Day’s Night was actually quite good on its own merits. The production was helmed by an American movie director based in Britain named Richard Lester. He had created a short called The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film starting Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan. The Beatles loved it and selected him from handful of choices to direct their first feature.

The plot for this mock-documentary is simple. It’s a day in the life. The Beatles, playing themselves, are on their way to perform on a London TV show. The ongoing constant is that the Fab Four are eternally having to duck hordes of screaming fans at every stop. They board a train, get settled at their hotel, rehearse at the studio. Then Ringo gets separated from the group. Along the way on their various lightweight adventures, the Beatles display a charisma that is irresistible. The script is filled with little exchanges like the following.

Reporter: Are you a mod or a rocker?
Ringo: Um, no. I’m a mocker.

A Hard Day’s Night is not particularly deep but it is fun – displaying an irreverent charm that is joyous. The Beatles come across as likable and witty. It simplifies their personalities and then amplifies them in short easy to digest sound bites. Yes, they are caricatures of their personas but these are appealing distortions of themselves. The production is highlighted by a manic energy. There are a lot of funny bits contained within. My favorite: Ringo puts his coat down for a girl so that she can walk across a muddy puddle several times before she ultimately falls down a deep hole. Oh and let’s not forget the music! As far as this Beatles fan is concerned, every song is gold, but highlights include: “If I Fell”, “And I Love Her”, “She Loves You” and the title hit of course. Incidentally “I’ll Cry Instead” was excised from the sketch where the Beatles flee their hotel room via the fire escape. It can still be found on the soundtrack. However the more upbeat “Can’t Buy Me Love” was used in its place because Richard Lester felt the tune suited the scene better.

The cultural impact of the film cannot be underestimated. Its importance was immediately understood even garnering two Academy Award nominations at the time (Best Original Screenplay and Best Score). Although uncomplicated and seemingly insignificant, the narrative had an impact on spy thrillers like Dr. No, inspired 60s TV sitcom The Monkees and influenced later day pop music videos. It additionally makes a strong case as to why the Beatles became a worldwide sensation.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of A Hard Day’s Night, a spectacular new restoration was released to theaters on July 4th by Janus Films. If you can’t make it to the cinema, Criterion Collection has assembled a special new edition on DVD and Blu-ray. You’ll marvel at the stunning black-and-white cinematography. Please re-discover this classic.

Send Me No Flowers

Posted in Comedy, Romance with tags on April 29, 2010 by Mark Hobin

Poor George, who thinks he’s dying, tries to find a suitable husband for his wife after he’s passed on.  Light and breezy comedy of errors is like a gorgeously shot sitcom full of colorful production design that highlights suburban style of the mid-60s.  Coy screenplay by Julius J. Epstein, based on the play by Norman Barasch and Carroll Moore, is surprisingly suggestive at times, in a very naive sort of way.  Stars Doris Day and Rock Hudson display great chemistry in their third and last pairing together.  The enthusiastic cast also includes Tony Randall, Paul Lynde and Clint Walker.  Everyone inhabits their characters so comfortably, it’s like they’ve been playing them on the stage for years.  Whimsical music by Frank De Vol boosts this playful farce.

My Fair Lady

Posted in Drama, Musical, Romance with tags on November 28, 2008 by Mark Hobin

PhotobucketPhotobucketOne of the all-time great movie musicals is a veritable feast for the eyes and ears. Yes, the costumes, sets and music are all exquisite, but the film’s inflated 3 hour length does start to plod after a while. Rex Harrison is the quintessential Professor Henry Higgins and Audrey Hepburn makes a charming Eliza Doolittle. Won eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Director.

Yellow Submarine

Posted in Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Fantasy, Music with tags on July 22, 2008 by Mark Hobin

Cinematically dazzling tale of the Beatles who save Pepperland from the Blue Meanies with their music. Joyous!

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