Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Hard Day's Night (1964)

The Beatles have a performance on a TV show. They have to travel, deal with fans, overcome personal issues, and keep Paul's grandfather in line (He's very clean). Along the way, John acts foolish, Ringo becomes moody, songs are sung, and a good time is had by all. That's enough talk about the story.

I knew the Beatles. That is to say, I knew their names, their personalities, and I could recognize any one of them by their voice. I'm not alone. Just about everyone anywhere near my age (and older) feels the same way. We are intimately familiar with each of the band members. This can't be said of any other band. And it's clear that this familiarity is in no small part a result of A Hard Day's Night.

So the question is, will this icon of pop culture (the movie, not the band) resonate with my fifteen year old? He loves music. He likes the Beatles. Before I get to that, here are a few items that struck me. What impeccable timing! The Beatles landed in America in February of '64 and the movie was released that summer. If the movie was a flop, or wasn't released for a year or two, how that would have affected their legacy? They still were great musicians, but there is something about striking while the iron is hot to cement your reputation. And I think this movie did just that.

My son asked an interesting question: How did they happen to film all of this? He thought it was a real documentary, as I did when I first saw it years ago. That is a testament to the quality of the production. Excellent production, great subject matter, perfect timing. It perfectly captures the craziness of Beatle popularity and showcases the band members wonderfully. 52 year old Wilfrid Brambell was great as Paul's grandfather (well, everyone's entitled to two, aren't they?) It both created the Beatle legend and mocked fad popularity at the same time. The stars aligned.

But Beatlemania has faded and 1964 is ancient history in a Hannah Montana/Justin Beiber world. How does it hold up? Rather well, actually. My son and I both enjoyed it. AMRU 4.

"How did you find America?"
"Turn left at Greenland."

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