We're nearing the end of the month long 50th anniversary celebration of the Beatles American invasion. As February 1964 drew to a close, The Beatles were about to make more history. Let's take a look at their first movie, the movie that started out as just a way to get a quick soundtrack for sale for a record company that was restricted on releasing any other material. It was shot on a small budget in less than 2 months. It was to be called "The Beatles", then "Beatlemania" and finally "A Hard Day's Night".
Alun Owen wrote the screenplay. He had spent just enough time with The Beatles prior to making the movie, to get a glimpse into their hectic world. The director was Richard Lester who MTV later dubbed "The Father of the Music Video". The Beatles real world was hectic to the point they didn't even join the actor's union until minutes before filming. The result was a movie that mirrored their everyday lives and even let the viewer share the sometimes claustrophobic experience. The film starts with The Beatles on a train to London (with Paul's uncle in tow) for a TV appearance. The boys were very nervous when cameras started rolling and it showed a kind of nervous energy that innocently draws you in. I think there were two more elements that helped make the movie so engaging. First, it was shot nearly in sequence which gave it an undeniable flow, especially when working with inexperienced actors. To witness the opposite, watch "Help" again. Secondly, so much of the film had actually happened to them. They just had to be Beatles.
My favorite scene is when John Lennon is approached by a fan who recognizes him as "You are... and the quick exchange ends with her convinced it wasn't "him" and Lennon saying she looks more like "him" than he does.
As far as pop culture goes, "A Hard Day's Night" influence was far reaching. Think "The Monkees", Austin Powers style 60's movies and practically every music video and concert type film to follow. As far as the title song goes, it was written just a week before filming wrapped on April 24th, 1964. He wrote it in one night using inspiration from a birthday card Julian had brought home.