Movie Review: A Hard Day’s Night (1964)

Title: A Hard Day’s Night 
Release Date: 6 July 1964
Director:  Richard Lester
Production Company: Walter Shenson Films | Proscenium Films

Growing up in the 1980s meant constantly being aware that it was the 20th anniversary of something that happened in the in 1960s.  The Beatles were a frequent topic of these retrospectives and I remember watching A Hard Day’s Night during a Beatles nostalgia event on tv.  I remember it being pretty good (and that their other film, Help!, was not).

Revisiting A Hard Day’s Night, I find it even better than I remember.  In a couple of years John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr had gone from gigging in Hamburg to becoming stars in their hometown of Liverpool to being UK hitmakers to being a global phenomenon.  And now they’re appearing in a movie, filmed in a vérité style with quippy dialogue that makes it feel improvised.

The movie purports to be a day in the life as the lads travel to London to rehearse and perform on a TV program. And as miserable as it may be to feel trapped in trains, hotel rooms, and studios, unable to escape the screaming fans, the lads seem to be having fun. Irish actor Wilfrid Brambell is cast as Paul’s fiction grandfather, “a clean old man” who acts as an added chaos agent.  Hijinks ensue.  And also, one of the great bands of all time perform some classic tunes.

Some things stand out on this watch as being relevant to today.

This quote from John Lennon:

“The older generation are leading this country to galloping ruin!”

The scene where George essentially calls out influencers.

The scene when Grandfather comes very close to saying ACAB.  “Ah, sure, that’s what they want you to think. All coppers are villains.”

Of course, my favorite scene will always be John playing with toy boats in the bathtub.

Rating: ****