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Wick's Review

Created Jan 22, 2012 02:15AM PST • Edited Jul 07, 2019 01:03AM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Perfect 5.0

    Pop art perfection, A Hard Day’s Night captures the greatest band ever in their greatest movie. While they’d make other movies and more transcendent music, Richard Lester’s revolutionary film revealed the Beatles to be as smart as they were sexy. And they were super sexy. Mockumentary closeups show legions of overcome girls chasing them and going to pieces at a movie-ending concert. A hard day’s night indeed.

    Lester’s 87 minute romp consists of madcap action bits linking 11 fabulous Beatles songs. John, Paul, George and Ringo perform some up close and personal, others offscreen and four in a rousing TV studio concert at movie’s end. MTV didn’t come along for another twenty years and never did music video better.

    Thus the songs literally and figuratively go up to 11, notwithstanding Viewguide’s music rating going to 5. In addition to A Hard Day’s Night, they include All My Loving, Can’t Buy Me Love, And I Love Her, If I Fell, Tell Me Why and She Loves You Yeah Yeah Yeah. Viewing them fresh from 1964 – half a century ago – and hearing the Lads from Liverpool sing them, delivers a pure jolt of rock and roll exhilaration.

  3. Really Great 4.5

    One note about each Beatle:

    • Lester’s camera lingers on girls’ faces while John sings lead on Tell Me Why. No rock star ever burned brighter or had a more perfect voice.
    • Paul hasn’t emerged as John’s consistent equal yet, but singing And I Love Her he sends a message half a century ahead that the Beatles were essentially a supergroup, something unknown then.
    • George hasn’t even emerged as a songwriter yet, but his lead vocal on I’m Happy Just to Dance with You proves he can front The Beatles. Huge.
    • Ringo once said “It’s been a hard day’s … night.” Richard Lester said We’re going to use that title. John called it a Ringo-ism.

    Wilfrid Brambell plays Paul’s grandfather. He’s a clean old man!

    Watch for Patty Boyd and Phil Collins. Patty is pretty in bangs and schoolgirl dress. She went on to marry George and then divorce him for Eric Clapton. Clapton wrote Layla about her. You can’t make this stuff up.

    Phil Collins is apparently in the concert audience, just a boy in 1964.

    Pru Bury’s name rhymes with blueberry. Leave it to the Beatles to cast a girl blueberry.

  4. Male Stars Perfect 5.0
  5. Female Stars Great 4.0
  6. Female Costars Great 4.0
  7. Male Costars Really Great 4.5
  8. Perfect 5.0

    Richard Lester’s landmark film became the template for The Monkees, Laugh-In and thousands more. Quick cuts from hand-held footage became the distinctive filmic language of the 2nd half of the 20th Century.

  9. Direction Perfect 5.0
  10. Play Perfect 5.0

    Reporter: How did you find America?
    John: Turned left at Greenland.

  11. Music Perfect 5.0
    • A Hard Day’s Night
    • I Should Have Known Better
    • I Wanna Be Your Man
    • Don’t Bother Me
    • All My Loving
    • If I Fell
    • Can’t Buy Me Love
    • And I Love Her – featuring George’s distinctive guitar riff, played while standing behind Paul. Super cool.
    • I’m Happy Just to Dance with You
    • Tell Me Why – high energy Beatles
    • She Loves You Yeah Yeah Yeah – pandemonium ensues from the live studio audience. Can you imagine being there?!
  12. Visuals Perfect 5.0

    The terrific bits include the Beatles going clubbing. There they are on the dance floor boogying to themselves covering I Want To Be Your Man. George dances with several pretty girls while Ringo dances with the whole floor. The whole thing’s an utter delight.

    Here’s a great page about hair dresser Betty Glasow called A Hair Day’s Night. She did the Fab Four’s mop tops along with Patty Boyd and Pru Bury’s hairdos.

  13. Content
  14. Risqué 1.6

    Hints of danger, another area where the Beatles excelled.

  15. Sex Titillating 1.6
  16. Violence Gentle 1.5
  17. Rudeness Salty 1.8
  18. Glib 1.4

    Glib circoreality masquerades as art, since that’s not really Paul’s grandfather in the movie, nor their managers, nor are they on a real TV show.

    Hocus pocus aside, A Hard Day’s Night is early Beatles, before they met Dylan, did drugs and dropped out. Their songs are still about young love, yet their ironic eye and transcendent talent is clearly apparent.

  19. Circumstantial Glib 1.5
  20. Biological Glib 1.3
  21. Physical Glib 1.3

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