Saturday, 8 August 2009

A Hard Day's Night

1964 - Dir: Dick Lester

Shown in FeckenOdeon 2 on August 8th, 2009
When "A Hard Day’s Night" was released in 1964, The Beatles had just made it into the big time. After barely a year of national existence, they had become a phenomenon. The film begins with girls chasing them, ends with girls chasing them, and has many moments of, well, girls chasing them.
Director Dick Lester tried hard to avoid turning this into "Carry On Up The Beatles" despite pressure from the somewhat conservative British studio system. He managed to avoid the traditional soppy and contrived plot but he got stuck with some cliches - notably Victor Spinnetti’s camp TV director worrying that the mop tops won’t turn up on time - we all know that they will but everybody dutifully goes through the motions. Mr Lester, already an old hand on TV commercials, directs inventively, using documentary techniques, speeded-up action, jump editing, even occasional surrealism - so much so that the distributors sent the first print back because they thought there was something wrong with it. It was all received very enthusiastically and Mr Lester’s style became the norm for music movies - though it has to be noted that he’d had a big flop a year earlier using the same techniques in "It’s Trad Dad" which had been intended to propel Helen Shapiro into the Hollywood big league... oops!
London in the first half of the 1960s seems very different. So many policemen on the beat. Such smartly turned-out teenagers, the girls in neat skirts, the boys wearing ties. Keep your eyes peeled and you may even spot a young Phil Collins among the fans. This is also the film that gave the world the word 'grotty' and, if you don’t blink, you’ll see the first blatant big screen flash of the word "t*ts"

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