Ewan Gleadow

Review: A Hard Day’s Night 55th Anniversary

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My fascination with John, Paul, George and not so much Ringo has eluded friends, family and fans of my work.  To me though, The Beatles are still one of the greatest influences in the world of independently-made music, and it’s their feature film work that satisfies this independence the most.  

A strange blend of promotional material and slapstick comedy, with the odd one liner thrown in, A Hard Day’s Night is a clattering of several genres, themes and ideas that are nowhere near traditional to a movie. The Fab Four were always trailblazing trendsetters, so it seems only obvious that their 1964 film puts together incredible direction with a quick-witted script. 

The film survives a shaky start to the proceedings, blending its own comedic timing with the band’s lack of it.  Some of the lines early on in the film feel forced, unpolished or even unrehearsed; but, as the film wears on, it becomes quickly obvious that this is the charm of the movie.  

Among its other unorthadox strengths is it’s tremendously experimental camerawork. director Richard Lester has a strong filmography behind him, but he may have exceeded himself here. 

Some of the supporting cast members are vaguely recognisable: Norman Rossington, of Carry On film fame, appears as the manager of the adventurous pop group, struggling to keep them under control and in check before they make a scheduled TV performance in front of their screaming fans. The film certainly manages to capture the popularity of the group well, with waves of teenagers screaming and shouting after them while adults only turn up their noses. 

My biggest surprise comes from how funny the movie is, with some fantastic bits of dialogue throughout and even a few one liners from John Lennon, in scenes that would’ve made their way into the slapstick variations throughout the sixties.  The jokes throughout seem very much ahead of their time.  

And, if this movie can make me somewhat tolerate Ringo Starr, then there must be some genius behind the magic of A Hard Day’s Night. The lengthiest and possibly most enjoyable music video ever created, this a masterclass of comedy, music and hijinks and a tremendous turn for fans of The Beatles in what is one of their many tremendous movie outputs.