A Hard Day’s Night

I remember the first time I saw a movie set in a place that was obviously not America. I was just a little tyke when my mom popped A Hard Day’s Night into the VCR, and I saw motor vehicles half the size of ours, policemen wearing big, black Bobby helmets, and a humble looking fellow named Ringo who said, “I’m a mocker.” He spoke with a thick, un-American accent. I was utterly bewildered. It was a completely different world called London, England, and it didn’t make any sense.

Actually, the only thing that did make sense was the music. Mom and Dad raised me on classic rock, there was a jukebox in the living room, and my go-to radio station was KOOL 105 (“Good times, great oldies”). I had heard the music of The Beatles before, and that life-affirming, introductory strum (G7sus4) made me feel comfortable. The Beatles were comfortable. And, when I saw them running through the streets of London, dodging fanatical female teenagers, I found them downright fun.

If there are two words to describe A Hard Day’s Night, they are energy and innocence. There is not a dull moment in the entire movie, and not understanding the British humor (“He’s very clean”) makes it all the more intriguing.

The Beatles were at their peak during the time and place of filming, and they knew it. They ate up snob reporter interviews with childlike obnoxiousness. They interwove a musical with a behind-the-scenes biopic and then converted that into a comedy. And, just when they got ahead of their time, Ringo pulled our heartstrings in his melancholy scene on the River Thames embankment. All of this was done in a seamless 90-minute stretch that went by too fast.

Just a few years before egos, drugs, and Yoko Onos kicked in, these were days of innocence for these talented, young chaps. There is a sense of humility in each Beatle’s grin, especially Paul, who has to take care of his crazy grandfather in between tours. George accidentally stumbles during the infamous sidewalk dash scene, John is the most rambunctious, and Ringo – well, he gets most of our empathy (and trips on George).

This all leads to one of the most jubilant grand finales in movie history – the “She Loves You” concert performance. Director Richard Lester cuts in and out of Beatle’s smiles and screaming young ladies with tears in their eyes (even Paul’s grandfather gets a cameo). It is pure virtue on the stage. No politics. No anger. No growing up.

Before the celebration of Beatlemania in the upcoming movie, Yesterday, I thought it appropriate to celebrate first this groundbreaking piece of filmmaking. Even with the black and white celluloid, 2 Beatles now gone, and the abundance of ‘60s hairdos, A Hard Day’s Night remains timeless.

***** out of *****

Please feel free to share your memories of this incredible movie…

14 thoughts on “A Hard Day’s Night

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  1. Such a great movie and great band. It really is pure joy. The musical numbers are woven in perfectly and no scene ever goes too long or gets stale. I’ve got the criterion collection Blu-ray of this one and put it on every few months as a bit of comfort food.

    I also agree on the above that the chance to see old movies on the big screen is something that should be taken advantage of. Last year I saw The Godfather at the Esquire in Denver and Goodfellas and 2001 (the new 4K print) at the Alamo Drafthouse, all movies I couldn’t see on their first theatrical run (although I did catch The Godfather on its 1997 25th anniversary rerelease). There seem to be more chances these days to revisit older classics on the big screen, and I’m grateful for that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! The art of the 90-minute movie (no scene wasted) is lost these days. Woody Allen was the pro at it, but now he’s a stigma.

      Ooo…let me know the next time you hear of a classic at one of those theaters. I saw Princess Bride at the Alamo. So fun! Like going back in time…

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  2. I had a similar experience. My dad had the VHS was a kid and the audio cassette so I grew up with this music before I even realized it. Some of the quotes I still find hilarious all these years later. Of course, the music is timeless too but it also captures a moment in time so well.

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    1. It’s so strange watching it again and reinterpreting meaning and inside jokes with a more mature mind. I still love my memory of not really understanding it, but like you said, the music was always something I grew up with 🙂

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  3. This movie was re-released to Theaters years ago and I got to see it on the big screen after I wore the VCR and DVD versions out… It was even better there.
    I’ve got so many favorite scenes…I really like when George is interviewed by the think tank who think they know what teenagers like… “She’s a drag – a well-known drag. We turn the sound down on her and say rude things.”

    If you ever get a chance to catch it on the big screen…do it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Stop being taller than me!” “I can’t help it.” There are so, so many memorable scenes, and they take on more meaning the older I get. I can’t believe you got to see it on the big screen! Sometimes, the indie theatres in Denver re-screen the classics. I’m pretty sure they take recommendations. Jealous.

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      1. In Nashville we have The Belcourt which does that…It’s fun to see them as they really were…In September I plan to see 2001 Space Odyssey….

        A Hard Days Night never gets old. You notice something else everytime you watch it. Help was fun to watch but nothing matched A Hard Days Night. Great Post

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ooo, now that’s gonna be an experience – “2001!” My dad told me people saved their drugs for the trippy ending when he saw it in the theatre during its original premiere. Such a great movie as well. It’s almost a sin to watch it anywhere but the theatre…

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          1. I will admit…I enjoy watching older films more than newer ones… My son and I watched Superfly there last year also. We are keeping an eye on the next ones…
            2001 should be great on big screen…you are right…that is what Kubrick made it for.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. That would be a great one I agree. I saw that a month or so ago again…well on Blu Ray…
              With me I would like to see Citizen Kane on big screen.

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  4. Ah…..the good old days….and I got to see the Beatles LIVE at Shea Stadium in the ‘60’s . I was in 7th grade, the ticket cost $7. I wore my Beatle wig and screamed during the entire concert!

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