A Hard Day's Night (1964)

The Beatles are now and have always been four men who carried with them a presence that is hard to pin down or describe. Something about these fab four, these mop tops always inspired an attraction from music lovers and fans around the world. It doesn’t matter what they did or do, people responded and they came in droves to watch the four do what they did best. The transition to film is rarely a successful venture for a musical star. Many times you’ll see a singer anxiously trying to act and failing or just pretty much supplying a string of mediocre performances. “A Hard Day’s Night” makes no bones about itself. It’s a vehicle, a promotional tool, and of course a way for fans to see the Beatles without going to a concert.

“A Hard Day’s Night” is not an attempt to build characterization, nor is it an Oscar grab by Paul or Ringo, it’s merely a semi-documentary about life on the road with them, with a heavily fictional account of the Beatles dong what they do best. All four players here simply portray themselves in “A Hard Day’s Night” a comedy adventure about the Fab Four and their inevitable concert in an England hall. Here we get to see how far their talents extend as they take their step into the film world and do a damn great job of it from the get go. “A Hard Day’s Night” is the Beatles as a group, as four young men enjoying life and their rabid female following, as well as just taking advantage of the help and service granted to them. It’s hard to believe, but McCartney and Lennon do a damn good job of deadpan comedy and one-liners along with Harrison who is more the straight man and Ringo who is depicted as bit of a misfit.

There’s not really anything more to “A Hard Day’s Night” than you would think. We follow the Beatles through their world tour and watch as they avoid mobs of girls in the now famous opening sequence set to “A Hard Day’s Night,” and their travels on trains, cars, their exploits in the city, and their anxious attempts to burn off some steam and relax before an upcoming concert. Meanwhile, we’re given some fantastic musical interludes with the group performing classics like “To Dance with You,” “Should Have Known Better,” and “All My Loving,” while we watch the guys teasing reporters during interviews, coming across cranky and crotchety passengers on a train, and inevitably having to save Ringo from an arrest.

The plot that’s injected thankfully doesn’t try too hard, as a despondent Ringo, being ribbed mercilessly by the others, wanders off to be by himself, accidentally being arrested by a cop. All the while their grandfather is also arrested, and attempts to find a way to warn the group about Ringo’s arrest before the big television debut. This movie had every reason fail, and without the proper production, “A Hard Day’s Night” may have easily been remembered as a low point in the career of the Beatles at their height, but thankfully, with the unassuming script from Alun Owen, matched with the simplistic direction from Richard Lester, and the utterly magnetic performances from the foursome, “A Hard Day’s Night” is worth re-watching over and over again to relive the Beatles music, personalities, and lasting legacy.