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Movie Reviews

A Hard Day's Night  

Directed By: Richard Lester
Starring: The Beatles; George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr
Rated: Not Rated Running Time: 90 Min.

As a comfirmed Beatlemaniac, I've seen this movie many times. However, until now, I had never seen it on the big screen, or seen it with the intention of writing a review. As a fan, I've always enjoyed this movie simply for the music and comedy it so joyfully provides.
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Now, turning a more critical eye toward the film, A Hard Day's Night takes on an even greater significance to me. This film really is one of the greats. It heralded the true birth of the music video format as we know it today, a full 17 years before the advent of MTV. Though Elvis Presley had previously used film as a medium to promote his music, A Hard Day's Night was the first time that film had been used to promote the images of an entire band, not as fictional characters, but as themselves.

In the film, The Beatles act out stylized versions of their public personae. The real genius of this concept is that the packaged and mass-marketed images portrayed are those of four young musicians who resist all attempts to be packaged or mass-marketed. Throughout the film, the Beatles show disdain for the corporate establishment while, at the same time, feeding their own corporate machine. As a result, their popularity with the youth of Britain, and the world, increases exponentially. This is irony at its greatest magnitude, and I absolutely love it! The Beatles were, indeed, one of the first rock & roll bands to continually update their public images to conform with the changing times. Again, irony is a wonderful thing.

The Beatles, themselves, do a grand job of mugging it up for the camera, as the story revolves around the group preparing to appear on a television program. They are all very natural actors, and give good performances as those cheeky mop-topped lads from Liverpool. Lennon especially seemed comfortable with his part, proving once and for all that he really was a devoted Marxist... Groucho, that is! The comedy styles of the Marx Brothers and the Keystone Cops play prominently in A Hard Day's Night.

The music is, need I say, first rate. When it comes to early Beatles tunes, and the days of Beatlemania, A Hard Day's Night is the perfect time capsule. For this re-issue of the film, the sound has been digitally remastered, with the musical portions of the movie significantly enhanced.

The print has also been digitally restored to it's original 1964 crispness, so that the true brilliance of Richard Lester's mock-documentary style can be fully appreciated.

A Hard Day's Night is playing in limited release across America. It may take some time to find at a theatre near you, but I guarantee it's well worth the search.

Allen J. Vestal

A.J.'s Place: Movies & More

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