A Hard Day's Night (1964)
Undoubtably one the most iconic music movies ever made, "A Hard Day's Night" is delightfully entertaining and sardonic. Mix that with The Beatles's music and a few self-referencial jokes and you've got yourself a hit. Such is the case with Richard Lester's comedy about a day in the life of the British band.
The day starts as the band (John, Paul, George, and Ringo) are mobbed by a group of screaming youths. They flee in a suave sort of way while the song "A Hard Day's Night" is playing in the background. Then they hop on a train and they're off to another show in another city.
There's a little old man accompanying them, Paul's grandfather (not the grandfather everyone has met, the other one). He's a quiet man at first, but wait until he gets warmed up...this grandfather is a troublemaker.
After loosing the old man several times, The Beatles find him in the back of the train and they whip out their instruments and poorly lip sync along with one of their songs whilst a group of young girls nod their heads to the beat. It's this kind of impromptu bursting into song that happens quiet often that is both the annoyance and the charm of the picture.
The Beatles don't have any star power in "A Hard Day's Night". They seem like average kids, and the film definitely caters to their youth and adolescence—they goof around and frolic in random people's yards and what not. It's not a plot driven movie.
Eventually, the band makes it to the venue where they will perform and here most of the shenanigans will occur. Grandfather will attempt to sell forged autographs, John will flirt with a girl and they discuss how much he looks like John Lennon, and Ringo will feel unwanted.
The gags that the band pulls about perceptions the public has are quite funny. Jokes about Ringo's nose, for instance, are some of the funnier moments of the movie.
Naturally, there are the cliches moments that include singing when singing isn't needed...after all, it's a movie about The Beatles and to expect anything but a musical would be naive.
Regrettably, some of the songs drone on too long and repeat too often...it's actually the humor of the script (which surprisingly eked out an Oscar nomination) that is the real reason to watch the movie.
John is portrayed as more of a loose cannon instead of sophisticated; George is cheeky but likable; Paul is...well, Paul; and Ringo is funny and morose in the same way.
I don't think The Beatles have ever been more humorous or enjoyable.
Though their music will live on far beyond their film careers, all of them do a fairly good job seeming at ease behind the lens...which would make sense when you think about it.
"A Hard Day's Night" also has a certain slapstick quality to it that it impossible to not like. The director of the concert, played by Victor Spinetti, is a fastidious man who (of course) gets on the verge of a nervous breakdown because of the foursome.
The film is shot in black-and-white and is somehow reminiscent of "Breathless"...I'm not quite sure why that film was in my mind—the two couldn't be more different.
All-in-all, "A Hard Day's Night" is a lot of nonsensical fun. It's not terribly smart or riddled with puns, but fun? Yes, it is that.
Score: 3 out of 4 stars
Posted by Micah Jones