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Overall Rating
4.65

Awesome82.67%
Worth A Look: 8%
Just Average: 5.33%
Pretty Crappy: 0%
Sucks: 4%

4 reviews, 51 user ratings


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Hard Day's Night, A
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by Robert Flaxman

"A smart and silly monument to its time."
5 stars

If ever there were a movie that was greater than the sum of its parts, A Hard Day’s Night has to be it. A curious mélange of music, near-surrealistic comedy, and social commentary, the film took the rulebook for what movies made to capitalize on a musical act’s popularity were supposed to be like and ripped out nearly every page. It may be questionable whether or not A Hard Day’s Night actually holds up as a quality film, but there’s no denying that it’s a shockingly effective time capsule sent from 1964.

A Hard Day’s Night isn’t Citizen Kane – it may not even be the Citizen Kane of music films – but director Richard Lester and screenwriter Alun Owen certainly know how to utilize the talents of their stars. Those would be, in order, playing catchy pop songs, dropping one-liners, and just generally being zany. “The Beatles are popular musicians” isn’t much of a premise around which to build a movie, but Lester and Owen don’t seem to mind.

The basic plot of the film is simply “a day in the life of the Beatles,” as they head for a television studio to tape a performance. Tagging along is Paul’s troublemaking grandfather (Wilfrid Brambell), whose various schemes provide an amusing running subplot. (At one point he convinces all four band members to sign a photograph, then forges dozens of copies which he attempts to sell to waiting fans.)

The Beatles are, of course, not actors, but they’re not exactly asked to act, either. According to Owen in an interview on the DVD, the film was written to imitate a wisecracking style that the band already had in real life, so delivering Owen’s one-liners, wacky non sequitur jokes, and snappy banter wasn’t exactly stretching their range. In fact, for four guys in their early 20s who were only just getting used to being famous, the Beatles handle themselves surprisingly well.

The songs are relatively well integrated in the film’s plot, something that isn’t always easy to do. Almost every track is either part of a performance or playing over a montage, and while this occasionally gets tiresome, the Beatles didn’t write many songs longer than two and a half minutes in 1964, so there’s rarely the chance for any track to wear out its welcome. (It helps that A Hard Day’s Night was the first truly classic Beatles album, even more impressive considering how quickly many of the tracks were written so that they could be used in the film.)

The most astonishing thing about the film, however, may be its social commentary, which is surprisingly clever, biting, and nearly as incisive a critique of its time and place as the films of Michelangelo Antonioni. (This may seem like exaggeration, but I’m serious.) In one scene, George is dragged into a fashion office where he is shown two shirts. George derides them as “grotty” and declares he wouldn’t be caught dead in them, whereupon the executive insists that he will indeed want them once they have been introduced by the company’s “it girl.” When George notes that the Beatles have made fun of said girl when she comes on television, he is hustled out of the office, and the executive nervously checks the calendar before noting in relief that the current trend is not scheduled to pass for another three weeks and that George must be an aberration.

Such display of the whims of culture seems out of place in a film about a newly famous rock band, but the filmmakers appear to have had a good deal of perspective on the Beatles’ fame. During the final televised concert, the screaming of the audience is dubbed as loudly as the music for several minutes, giving a realistic feeling of being at the show (the band has commented on sometimes being unable to hear themselves play while performing live). It’s another interesting critique, intended or not – the Beatles at the time were as much a phenomenon as they were an actual band, proven by the fact that people had no intention of listening to the music when they could be screaming at the top of their lungs. The reference to fly-by-night celebrity didn’t prove prophetic because the Beatles actually had talent (and broke up before people had a chance to get tired of them), but the mere fact that A Hard Day’s Night was so self-aware regarding their fame makes it pretty daring.

It’s rarely laugh-out-loud funny, especially to an American audience on whom some of the terminology would be lost, but A Hard Day’s Night is still clever, sharp, and groundbreaking. Its appeal lies in the timeless charm of its stars and their music, but its refusal to take itself seriously is what truly sets it apart from, say, the films of Elvis Presley. It may not be a work of art, but A Hard Day’s Night succeeds at being exactly what it wants to be.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=817&reviewer=385
originally posted: 08/02/05 00:13:07
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User Comments

5/24/18 Suzanne The Fab Four exude so much joy; the movie seems true to life. 5 stars
3/04/15 stanley welles a rock-and-roll movie classic 4 stars
6/21/13 PAUL SHORTT DELIGHTFUL COMIC FANTASIA WITH MUSIC 4 stars
5/24/12 Randy Love this movie, cannot tell you how many times that I have seen it. A real classic. 5 stars
10/14/11 Matt Ferrell Love this movie. Can watch it over and over, and it gets even more funny every time! 5 stars
9/06/10 Philly Cult Perfect screenplay, great music, a blast from start to finish. 5 stars
6/20/10 Sarah Why does this get great reviews? It's shit. The soundtrack is awesome though! 1 stars
10/10/05 Carolyn Rathburn I thought it was kind of silly really. 4 stars
9/05/05 Hannah This movie is really great for Beatles fans- especially if you can sing along! 5 stars
8/02/05 Eric Rollins Loved it as a pre-teen. It really shows its age at this point. 3 stars
7/17/05 Brandy Harrington The Beatles could just make masterpiece after masterpiece, couldn't they? 5 stars
10/05/04 Windseeker I gotta agree with everybody else. The movie absolutely, positively surprises. 5 stars
6/04/04 Craig Great songs. Great movie. Check out the awesome lighting during "And I Love Her". I<3GH 5 stars
4/19/04 Desperado Great movie the Beatles at their best they r still the greatest of all time hands down A+ 5 stars
1/21/04 Chlo Brody The best Beatles movie ever made... 5 stars
5/18/03 kate loved it, amazing film!!!! 5 stars
3/23/03 Charles Tatum So whimsical as to be imperfect 4 stars
12/29/02 John Aster Habig the music alone makes it awesome the humor is added flavor 5 stars
5/10/02 vanessa The Beatles did a great job but the best kudos go to the writer and director of this film. 5 stars
1/23/02 Andrew Carden Not Their Best Work, but Still Very Good. 5 stars
6/18/01 Paul's Uncle Very clean! 5 stars
6/15/01 Nicola This film shows a perfect example of the swinging sixties along with good music. 5 stars
4/04/01 Hawkeye It's only fitting that the best rock'n'roll band should get the best rock'n'roll movie. 5 stars
3/12/01 viking You're an idiot, Sorry Man. The Beatles are a million times better than that techno crap !! 5 stars
2/05/01 Sorry man poop poop poop 1 stars
2/05/01 Beatles r GAY THey r one of the most overrated bands ever! and plus they CANT act! 1 stars
1/12/01 Skip I'm a huge Beatles fan, but I found this kind of boring. Sorry. 3 stars
1/06/01 gabriel simply fab 5 stars
12/19/00 Jaymie Yes there is a reason the Beatles in beating the backdoorboys! 5 stars
12/16/00 Matt There's a REASON why the new Backstreet Boys CD is getting its ass kicked by the Beatles... 5 stars
12/05/00 Doug Outstanding! 5 stars
11/18/00 viking the fab four are still fab !!! 5 stars
11/17/00 salvo how did you find the film? 5 stars
11/09/00 skye bigger than big 5 stars
7/07/00 John I have it and love it. Help is fine too. 5 stars
12/11/99 Glenn I'd turn left at Greenland to see this one. Too bad it inspired the Monkees. 5 stars
10/10/99 john grove totally magnificent 5 stars
10/09/99 Viral Messiah I miss the Beatles... A hell of a terrific movie! 5 stars
10/03/99 Joe Schmoe Better than Spiceworld: The Movie, Beatles forever! 5 stars
9/26/99 Ann Tyer Any Beatles fan should see this movie and people that aren't Beatles fans will be. 5 stars
9/24/99 alyssa Did you really rent it for the ACTING?? 4 stars
9/19/99 Weird Andy I'm no Beatlemaniac, but I dug the movie. Not quite as good as Lester's Musketeer flicks. 4 stars
9/19/99 Ricky Urena The music rocks! 5 stars
7/30/99 Emily This movie is my all time favourite movie, no question about it! 5 stars
2/26/99 Jennifer Bennett This is the greatest movie I have seen it a million times and laugh out loud each time 5 stars
12/26/98 roxy if you don't like this movie you're retarded. 5 stars
11/03/98 Bad Kosh Hey, Beatles kick ass better than Spice Girls and Backstreet Boys. Woohoo! 5 stars
10/17/98 Mr Showbiz Shows the four lads from Liverpool in all their innocence and charm. 5 stars
9/02/98 Johny Saw it a long time ago, but I still don't like The Beatles 3 stars
9/02/98 pooky the bald After spawning The Monkees and Spiceworld, this film has more to answer for than Idi Amin. 3 stars
9/02/98 J-Guy I love this movie, great film, with a great soundtrack. you'll see me in the seats for this 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  11-Aug-1964

UK
  N/A

Australia
  15-Mar-2001 (M)




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