Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Hard Day's Night in 50 Years or Less

He's very clean. I remember being a little kid back in the early 1970's. I was probably 3 or 4 or so, when I heard my first Beatles song. Thanks to my mother and my aunt, and their love for the Fab Four (as well as Elvis), my childhood was filled with the vinyl swirlings of Let It Be, The White Album, and Rubber Soul. Yeah, that's right...vinyl! Granted, I do remember having both Let it Be and Hey Jude on 8-track, but the records are what I really remember - and remember loving. Sure, I still hadn't even turned three yet, when the band decided to do the whole break up thing (they were still young too, with the eldest band mates, Ringo and John, just 29 when they went splitsville) but the biggest musical influence on this little kid, were those four lads from Liverpool. This is why, when hearing of the 1964 in Film Blogathon over at Hitchcock's World, I leapt at the chance (serious, I actually jumped up and down several times) to write something up on one of my favourite films of '64, and my favourite all-time rock & roll film, A Hard Day's Night. So without further ado, here it is.

Now, I'm going to take a slightly off-kilter approach to talking about A Hard Day's Night. I mean, anyone can talk about the movie itself. That's easy peezy, lemon squeezy. Any ole blogger can go on and on about how it not only helped to introduce The Beatles to a world that up until then had only heard them on records or the radio (or maybe saw them on their tiny tube television sets when they were on Ed Sullivan's show), but also reinvented the musical film for a new generation, and spawned the quirky rock and roll films that came after it. Any writer can talk about how the music from the album, with that incredible opening note that changed music as people knew it at the time, was transformed into one of the most fun films ever put on the big screen, or how the film helped to highlight each band member's own personality, as well as the band's wacky persona as a whole. Anyone can blather on about how A Hard Day's Night was both the aforementioned wacky beast that it most certainly was, and one of the most groundbreaking albums and films of all-time. Yeah, anyone can ramble on and on about such things. Hell, I just did it, without actually doing it. But that is not what this blog post is about. Instead of using my so-called talents as the film critic I once claimed to have been (a decade plus in the game, so there!), I am taking a more personal look at this oh so great film from fifty years ago.

Now, I have already spoken of how I grew up with all those Beatles albums (and a coupla 8-tracks) and how they influenced my childhood, and eventually the adulthood with which I might one day finally come to grips. I even once came up with the idea for a novel (that I never did write) about a famous rock band falling to pieces. It was highly (obviously) influenced by stories of The Beatles, but I digress. Just how else has this film (and the band behind it) touched my life? I'll show you on the Ringo doll, just where it did touch me. Seriously though, this film does keep popping up in my life now and again. I remember, when I was seventeen, I made the first major purchase using money I actually earned on my own. That purchase was a VCR. Hey, it was 1984. VCR's were all the rage. Oh, and for all you kids out there who have no idea what a VCR even is, first of all, learn something about the world from before you were born, for christ's sake. I mean, there is a past out there, and it's full of a lot of great things. One of those things is the VCR. Just Google it guys. Then after that, come back here and read the rest of this post. Anyhoo, when I bought my VCR, back in the hey day of the home video revolution (so quaint sounding these days, eh?), I also went and bought a few VHS tapes to go along with said VCR. The first one I bought was Citizen Kane. The second one was...ta da...A Hard Day's Night. I watched the hell out of that tape!

Later on in life, long after those VHS tapes went the way of the dinosaur, the public telephone, and Joe Piscopo, A Hard Days Night popped up again, and this time I actually got to touch the film itself. You see, there was once this place called Midtown Cinema. Opening in 2001, it was the first arthouse cinema in my hometown of Harrisburg, Pa. I even ran the place for a while, from 2009 until last year. Shortly before taking over the place though, the manager before me held a music film festival. One of the films played during that festival guessed it...A Hard Day's Night. And it played in 35mm even. A thing that sadly does not happen that often any more. So yeah, I got to touch the print. Take that! I may have even licked it, but let's not open that can o' worms. Anyway, the best thing about A Hard Day's Night playing at the cinema, other than being able to watch it up on the big screen (and the possible licking of the print), was the one day a dad and his little six year old kid came in. This kid, much like another wee Beatle lovin' kid we may have read of (wonder if he has Let it Be on 8-track), was so so so excited about seeing A Hard Day's Night. So so so excited. Yup, that is one cool kid...and that is one hell of a parenting job, if ya ask me!

So there you go. Some of my personal ruminations on A Hard Day's Night. Perhaps this isn't the most cinematically informative of posts (my old film critic skills are left wanting tonight), but like I said earlier, any ole blogger can give you the facts and figures (Phil Collins was one of the screaming teens in the film) or talk about the film's influence (can we say The Monkees!?), or toss out any other random facts about the film in question (George would meet his future wife, and Eric Clapton's future wife as well, Miss Pattie Boyd), but only this one can give you these personal ramblings. So there! To close, I would like to thank the fine folks over at Hitchcock's World (which is actually just one person, who may or may not be named John Hitchcock), for allowing me to be part of their 1964 in Film Blogathon. I hope they like my contribution. Or not. What do I care. They're not the boss of me. Anyhoo, I'm going to sign off now. Probably go watch me a little Beatles or something like that. I'm still trying to figure out why Paul was so concerned with his grandfather being so clean. Actually, it was due to actor Wilfrid Brambell, an already established British TV star on the show Steptoe and Son (the show upon which Sanford and Son was based) who was often referred to as a 'dirty old man' on the show. But enough of these actual film history facts. That's not what this is supposed to be all about. That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.


  1. A nice little piece indeed. I remember A Hard Days Night, a fun little movie with lots of memorable moments. I always loved the scene where John "torpedoed" himself in the bathtub and "sank". The manager's reaction to him disappearing from the bathtub was priceless, as was the way John just walked in and seemed completely oblivious to why he was so confused.

    That's actually interesting that you opted to go for the more personal route. I've got a somewhat similar deal myself: anyone can review a movie insofar as they can say "I liked it" or "I hated it", but the trick is figuring out how to make your review interesting. That's why whenever I'm dealing with new releases (as in my discussions of Snowpiercer or Under the Skin), I like to try and find new venues to explore instead of just saying it was good or bad.

  2. Loved this entry. I'm (barely) old enough to have seen The Beatles appear on Ed Sullivan, and to have seen A Hard Day's Night at the local drive-in. I was seven, but my sister was a worldly 13-year-old whose musical tastes greatly influenced her younger brother.

  3. I saw this film on TVO -"Elwy Yost at the movies" This is one of the best films-musical, comedy, a touch of new wave and docu-drama. You love to lick things don't you...I meanmovie related:)

  4. I joined this blogathon:) and wrote about The Train

  5. I've lost count of the number of times I've seen A Hard Day's Night, but I always see something new or hear a joke that I missed or maybe didn't fully understand or appreciate the first time. Excellent post.

  6. Thanx everybody. Glad my take on the film was well received. Glad to be part of the blogathonnin' fun.

    Are you a mod or a rocker? I'm a mocker.

    See ya 'round the web.