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Friday's Channel Hopper: A Hard Day's Night full movie analysis

by Andy Johnson. Published Fri 12 Feb 2021 21:49, last updated: 23/02/21

"He's very clean, isn't he!"

"What's this on BBC2?"

"Oh no And... it's black and white, not on a Friday night!"

"Sod off, it's The Beatles!"

Well that's how it usually goes in my house when I try to put on this mood enhancing classic - late at night, when you just want your mind wander to world conquering heroes and their flights of fancy.

Welcome home Liverpool!

We're all our own mop top Top Of The Pops poppin' heroes by just staying in at home and away from those damn mutating germs right now.

Our city has been pulled through the mire lately, but this day-in-the-life Beatles biopic - is just the celluloid pick me up you need in your life.

I'm going to make a bold statement and say that A Hard Day's Night is on my Top 10 fave movies list of all time, this often results in surprised eyebrows and even audible surprise from discerning film fans.

"How could you dare include a movie with musicians up there? They can't act." Mostly, throw a music group in front of a camera and ask them to act; and you'd predict a beautiful car crash at best.

But with the boys from Speke, Woolton and Toxteth it was pure poetry in motion. Put this flick on and instantly feel happy.

Singing along and fantasising about how magical The Beatles were... and still are, anytime we want them.

A Hard Day's Night should be on anybody's top ten list on any of the eight given days of the week. There is a mystical alignment of forces at work behind the film.

Capturing the boys at the early peak of Beatlemania, you can see the novelty of their meteoric rise to fame, etched upon their fab faces.

After being schooled by Brian Epstein, they'd all carefully cultivated their personas at their always hilarious press conferences.

Wilfred Bramble of Steptoe And Son fame is wonderfully cast as Paul's wilful Irish grandad, who's always on the make and sells off autographed promo pictures to fans.

But he's no longer the 'dirty' old rag and bone man Albert - 'he's very clean, isn't he!?' A direct dig against his sitcom role, which becomes one of the movie's most memorable lines.

But perhaps most fortuitous of all was the selection of Alun Owen to pen the script. The Welsh playwright was specifically chosen because The Beatles were familiar with his play No Trams To Lime Street.

Alun had shown a razor sharp aptitude for Liverpudlian vernacular and to find a story for his screenplay, he went on the road with them.

Possessing a talent for soaking up the Beatles' inner circle slang - Owen spent several days with the group, who confided that their lives consisted basically of... 'a train and a room and a car and a room and a room and a room.'

Paul's Grandfather references this directly in dialogue. Owen penned the story with a perspective that the Beatles had become prisoners of their fame.

Consider this, the long-haired lovers from Liverpool were trying to practice their own brand of social distancing, keeping to their own bubble and away from the prying hands of hordes of fans. More for their own sanity than anything else.

Let's look at the Fab Four's performance pecking order. On A Hard Day's Night, as far as I'm concerned, Ringo gets top billing.

Surprising everyone at the time - Ringo possessed a rare, natural acting talent and steals every scene he's in. His dancing at the club is particularly delightful.

But what many people don't know is; during his lonely lad solo scene, where he runs away from his bandmates, kicks about with a camera by a canal and plays truant with a schoolboy - he was nursing the Hangover from Hell.

George, plays The Quiet One to perfection. The fact so many Americans made Ringo and George their fave Beatles, could largely be attributed to their chance to shine in this film.

Harrison's spotlight moment, where he stumbles into a professional trendsetters office and describes their latest fashions as 'grotty,' is one of my favourite scenes.

George actually met his wife Pattie Boyd while filming the train scenes. Funnily enough, she plays a schoolgirl that Paul cottons on to and only has one ominous line: 'Prisoners!'

John is clearly enjoying himself on screen. Lennon had just appeared on Not Only But Also, with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore to perform a piece called Sad Michael from his book In His Own Write, which is where he first used Ringo's malapropism A Hard Day's Night.

Paul and John really get their chance to shine when it comes to the music. With A Hard Day's Night being the only Beatles record to be composed exclusively by Lennon and McCartney, it should also hold a special place in your record collection.

Who could forget the joy of that opening chord twang!? Time to get happy.

If you fancy watching A Hard Day's Night on film, head on up to the VideOdyssey video shop at Toxteth TV and we'll hook you up.

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