A Hard Day's Night (film)

A Hard Day's Night (film)

Infobox Film
name = A Hard Day's Night

image_size =
caption =
director = Richard Lester
producer = Walter Shenson
writer = Alun Owen
narrator =
starring = The Beatles
music = The Beatles
George Martin
cinematography = Gilbert Taylor
editing = John Jympson
distributor = United Artists
released = 6 July 1964 (UK release)11 August 1964 (US release)
runtime = 87 min.
country =
language =
budget = ~£200,000 ( ~$500,000)
gross = ~£2,500,000 ( ~$6,165,000)
preceded_by =
followed_by = Help!
website =
amg_id = 1:21522
imdb_id = 0058182

"A Hard Day's Night" is a 1964 British comedy film written by Alun Owen starring The BeatlesJohn Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr—during the height of their popularity. It was directed by Richard Lester and originally released by United Artists.

The film was successful both financially and critically; it was rated by "Time" magazine as one of the all-time great 100 films.cite web |first=Corliss, Richard |last=Schickel, Richard |url=http://www.time.com/time/2005/100movies/0,23220,a_hard_days_night,00.html |title=ALL-TIME 100 MOVIES |publisher=TIME |date=2007-02-19|accessdate=2008-02-27] British critic Leslie Halliwell described it as a "comic fantasia with music; an enormous commercial success with the director trying every cinematic gag in the book" and awarded it a full four stars.cite book | last = Halliwell | first = Leslie | title = Halliwell's Film & Video Guide | year = 1997 | publisher = Harper Collins | isbn = 0-00-638779-9] The film is credited with having influenced 1960s spy films, The Monkees' television show and pop music videos.


The screenplay was written by Alun Owen, who was chosen because the Beatles were familiar with his play "No Trams to Lime Street", and he had shown an aptitude for Liverpudlian dialogue. McCartney commented, "Alun hung around with us and was careful to try and put words in our mouths that he might've heard us speak, so I thought he did a very good script." Owen spent several days with the group, who told him their lives were like "a room and a car and a room and a car and a room and car"; the character of Paul's grandfather refers to this in the dialogue.cite web |first= |last= |url=http://www.aellea.com/script/ahdn.htm |title=A Hard Day's Night Script |publisher=aella |accessdate=2008-02-27] Owen wrote the script from the viewpoint that the Beatles had become prisoners of their own fame, their schedule of performances and studio work having become punishing.In fact their biggest problem is McCartney's elderly, but "clean" grandfather, played by Wilfrid Brambell. [cite web| url = http://www.aellea.com/script/ahdn.htm | title = A Hard Day's Night | accessdate = 2008-04-03|quote=This is a running gag, in which various characters describe him as "clean".]

Halliwell encapsulates the plot as "Harassed by their manager and Paul's grandpa, the Beatles embark from Liverpool by train for a London TV show."Having escaped a horde of fans, once aboard the train and trying to relax, various interruptions begin to test their patience, prompting George to go to the goods van for some peace and quiet.

On arrival in London, they are driven to a hotel where they feel trapped. After a night out during which McCartney's grandfather causes minor trouble at a casino, the group are taken to the theatre where their performance is to be filmed. The preparations are lengthy so Starr decides to spend some time alone, trying to have a quiet drink in a pub, walking alongside a canal and at one point riding a bicycle along a railway station platform. [This scene was filmed at Crowcombe Heathfield Station on the West Somerset Railway cite web | url = http://www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk/Crowcombe_Heathfield.html | title = Crowcombe Heathfield | accessdate = 2008-04-03] Finally, however, he returns and the concert goes ahead as planned.cite web |first= |last= |url=http://oak.cats.ohiou.edu/~ms538596/ahdn.html |title=A Hard Day's Night Film Summary and comments from The Beatles |publisher=mindspring |accessdate=2008-02-27]

The Beatles comment cheekily on their own fame: for instance, at one point a fan recognizes John Lennon; he demurs, saying his face isn't quite right, with the fan eventually agreeing. When Starr is asked if he's a Mod or a Rocker, he replies "I'm a mocker".cite web |first= |last= |url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfour/cinema/features/hard-days-night.shtml |title=Film and Drama |publisher=BBC |date=2005-12-12|accessdate=2008-02-27] The frequent reference to McCartney's's grandfather as a "clean old man" contrasts with the "Steptoe and Son" stock description of Wilfrid Brambell's character, Albert Steptoe, as a "dirty old man". [ cite web | url = http://www.televisionheaven.co.uk/steptoe.htm | title = Television Heaven : Steptoe and Son | accessdate = 2008-04-04]


The film was shot for United Artists using a cinéma vérité style in black and white and produced over a period of sixteen weeks. It had a low budget for its time of £200,000 ($500,000) and filming was finished in six weeks.cite web |first= |last= |url=http://www.allmovie.com/cg/avg.dll?p=avg&sql=1:21522 |title=Plot Synopsis |publisher=allmovie |accessdate=2008-02-27] Unlike most productions, it was filmed in near sequential order, as stated by Lennon in 1964 The Beatles, "The Beatles Anthology" (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, LCC, 2000, ISBN 0-8118-2684-8), p. 267] Filming began at Paddington Station on 2 March 1964, the Beatles having only joined the actors' union, Equity, that morning.cite book | title = The Beatles Diary | last = Miles | first = Barry | year = 2001 |location = London| ISBN = 0-7119-8308-9 | publisher = Omnibus Press] The first week of filming was on a train travelling between London and Minehead. [cite web | url = http://www.wsr.org.uk/beatles.htm |title = The Beatles in West Somerset in 1964 | accessdate = 2008-04-03] On 10th March, scenes with Ringo were shot at the Turk's Head pub in Twickenham, and over the following week various interior scenes were filmed at Twickenham Studios. From 23rd to the 30th March, filming moved to the Scala Theatre, [cite web | url = http://www.arthurlloyd.co.uk/Scala.htm | title = Scala Theatre, 58 Charlotte Street| accessdate = 2008-04-03] and on the 31st, concert footage was shot there, although the group mimed to backing tracks. Among the 350 audience members was Phil Collins, who was a 13-year-old child actor at the time. Mark Lewisohn, "The Complete Beatles Chronicle" (London: Pyramid Books, Hamlyn, 1992, ISBN 0-600-61001-2), p. 153] The "Can't Buy Me Love" segment, which featured creative camera work and the band running and jumping around in a field was shot on 23 April 1964 at Thornbury Playing Fields, Isleworth, Middlesex. The final scene was filmed the following day in West Ealing, London, where Starr obligingly drops his coat over puddles for a lady to step on, only to discover that the final puddle is actually a large hole in the road. Mark Lewisohn, "The Complete Beatles Chronicle" (London: Pyramid Books, Hamlyn, 1992, ISBN 0-600-61001-2), p. 158] Lester subsequently directed the Beatles' 1965 film, "Help!" and later several popular films, including "The Three Musketeers" and "Superman II".


Wilfrid Brambell, who played McCartney's grandfather, was already well-known to British audiences as co-star of the British sitcom "Steptoe and Son". Norman Rossington appeared as their manager, John Junkin as "Shake", Richard Vernon as the 'city gent' on the train, Lionel Blair as a featured dancer, Victor Spinetti as the television director and in cameos David Langton, John Bluthal as a car thief and an uncredited Derek Nimmo as magician Leslie Jackson. David Janson played the small boy met by Starr on his "walkabout".
Charlotte Rampling and Phil Collins made their screen debuts in this film. [As a dancer and a boy in the concert audience respectively] George Harrison met his wife-to-be, Pattie Boyd, on the set when she made a brief (uncredited) appearance as one of the schoolgirls on the train. His initial overtures to her were spurned because she had a boyfriend at the time but he persisted and they were married within 18 months.cite web |first=Bosley |last=Crowther|url=http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/21522/A-Hard-Day-s-Night/overview |title=A Hard Day's Night (1964)|publisher=New York Times |date=2007-02-19|accessdate=2008-02-27]


The film premiered at The Pavilion Theatre in London on 6 July 1964—the eve of Ringo Starr's 24th birthday—and its soundtrack of the same name was released four days later. [cite web | url = http://www.beatles.com/one/html/aharddaysnight/index.html | title = A Hard Days Night | accessdate = 2008-04-04] It was The Beatles' first soundtrack album and the first Beatles' album to consist entirely of Lennon/McCartney songs. Reviews of the film were mostly positive; one oft-quoted assessment was provided by "Village Voice," which labelled "A Hard Day’s Night" "the Citizen Kane of jukebox musicals."cite book|last=Sarris|first=Andrew|title=The Lennon Companion|editor=Elizabeth Thomson, David Gutman|publisher=Da Capo Press|location=New York|year=2004|chapter=A Hard Day's Night|isbn=0306812703|quote=The fact remains the "A Hard Day's Night" has turned out to be the "Citizen Kane" of jukebox musicals, the brilliant crystallization of such diverse cultural particles as rock 'n' roll,... ] "Time" magazine called the film "One of the smoothest, freshest, funniest films ever made for purposes of exploitation."cite web |first= |last=|url=http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,897286,00.html?internalid=atm100|A |title=Yeah? Yeah. Yeah!|publisher=Time |date=1964-08-24|accessdate=2008-02-27] Film critic Roger Ebert cites the film as one of the "Top Films of All Time".cite web |first=Roger |last=Ebert |url=http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19961027/REVIEWS08/401010326/1023|Roger |title=Roger Ebert review |publisher=Roger Ebert |date=1996-10-27 |accessdate=2008-02-27] In 2004, "Total Film" magazine named "A Hard Day's Night" the 42nd greatest British film of all time. In 2005, Time.com named it one of the 100 best films of the last 80 years. It is currently ranked the third greatest film of all time on Rotten Tomatoes. [ [http://www.rottentomatoes.com/top/ "Rotten Tomatoes" Top Movies] ] Leslie Halliwell gave the film his highest rating, four stars, the only British film of 1964 to achieve that accolade. It is the third-highest ranked film of all time on Rotten Tomatoes, with a 100% positive review based on 69 sources. [ cite web | url = http://www.rottentomatoes.com/top/bestofrt_year.php | title = Best of Rotten Tomatoes | accessdate = 2008-06-11]

"New York Times" film critic Bosley Crowther noted the film was a subtle satire on the image of rock-and-roll music (and the Beatles in particular) as a source of youth rebellion and defiance of authority. The Beatles are portrayed as likeable young lads who are constantly amazed at the attention they receive and who want nothing more than a little peace and quiet; however, they have to deal with screaming crowds, journalists who ask nonsensical questions, and authority figures who constantly look down upon them. [cite web | url = http://www.nytimes.com/glogin?URI=http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review&OQ=_rQ3D2Q26resQ3D990DE7DE1E30E033A25751C1A96E9C946591D6CFQ26orefQ3Dslogin&OP=6a936722Q2FQ25o3Q7BQ25Q2A.Z3DlhQ25KZQ51D__Q2AnQ25_42Z3KZ3lQ25h2Q7E.3Q2AQ2543Q7E.3o(_Q22_Q25h2Q7E.3Q2543Q7E.3o | title = A Hard Day's Night | accessdate = 2008-04-04 (requires free login)]

"A Hard Day's Night" was nominated for two Academy Awards; for Best Screenplay (Alun Owen), and Best Score (Adaptation) (George Martin).


British critic Leslie Halliwell states the film's influence as "... it led directly to all the kaleidoscopic swinging London spy thrillers and comedies of the later sixties..." In particular, the visuals and storyline are credited with inspiring The Monkees' television series. [cite book | last = Massingill | first = Randy | year = 2005 | publisher = FLEXQuarters | location = Las Vegas, NV | title = Total Control: The Monkees Michael Nesmith Story | ISBN = 0-9658218-4-6] The "Can't Buy Me Love" segment borrowed stylistically from Richard Lester's earlier "The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film" and it is this segment, in particular using the innovative technique of cutting the images to the beat of the music, which has been cited as a precursor of modern music videos. [cite web | url = http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/movies/hard08.shtml | title = Beatles film 'A Hard Day's Night' still makes you feel all right | accessdate = 2008-04-03] [ cite web | url = http://www.musicvideomistakes.net/pages/history_page.htm | title = History of Music Video Mistakes | accessdate = 2008-04-03] [ cite web | url = http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/Issue/story?oid=oid%3A82541 | title = Blow Up Your Video | accessdate = 2008-04-03] [cite web | url = http://www.filmsite.org/premiere.html | title = 100 Most Daring Movies Ever Made | accessdate = 2008-04-03]
Roger Ebert goes even further, crediting Lester for a more pervasive influence, even constructing "a new grammar": "he influenced many other films. Today when we watch TV and see quick cutting, hand-held cameras, interviews conducted on the run with moving targets, quickly intercut snatches of dialogue, music under documentary action and all the other trademarks of the modern style, we are looking at the children of "A Hard Day's Night".


The movie's strange title originated from something said by Ringo Starr, who described it this way in an interview with disc jockey Dave Hull in 1964: "We went to do a job, and we'd worked all day and we happened to work all night. I came up still thinking it was day I suppose, and I said, 'It's been a hard day...' and I looked around and saw it was dark so I said, '...night!' So we came to 'A Hard Day's Night.'" [ cite book | last - Badman | first = Keith | title = The Beatles Off The Record | publisher = Music Sales Corporation | isbn = 9780711979857 | pages = 93]

According to Lennon in a 1980 interview with "Playboy" magazine: "I was going home in the car and Dick Lester suggested the title, 'Hard Day's Night' from something Ringo had said. I had used it in "In His Own Write", but it was an off-the-cuff remark by Ringo. You know, one of those malapropisms. A Ringo-ism, where he said it not to be funny... just said it. So Dick Lester said, 'We are going to use that title.'" [cited in cite book | last = Dowlding | first = William J. | title = Beatlesongs | year = 1989 | publisher - Fireside | isbn = 978-0671682293]

In a 1994 interview for "The Beatles Anthology", however, McCartney disagreed with Lennon's recollections, recalling that it was the Beatles, and not Lester, who had come up with the idea of using Starr's verbal misstep: "The title was Ringo's. We'd almost finished making the film, and this fun bit arrived that we'd not known about before, which was naming the film. So we were sitting around at Twickenham studios having a little brain-storming session... and we said, 'Well, there was something Ringo said the other day.' Ringo would do these little malapropisms, he would say things slightly wrong, like people do, but his were always wonderful, very lyrical... they were sort of magic even though he was just getting it wrong. And he said after a concert, 'Phew, it's been a hard day's night.'" [cite book |first=Barry |last=Miles |authorlink=Barry Miles |title=Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now |year=1997 |pages=164 |publisher=Henry Holt & Company |location=New York |isbn=0-8050-5249-6]

Yet another version of events appeared in 1996; producer Walter Shenson said that Lennon had described to him some of Starr's funnier gaffes, including "a hard day's night", whereupon Shenson immediately decided that that was going to be the title of the film. [cite web |first=Mary |last=Campbell |url=http://www.southcoasttoday.com/daily/07-96/07-01-96/c02ae072.htm |title=Restored 'Hard Day's Night,' 'Help!' part of AMC festival" |publisher=Associated Press |date=1996-07-01 | accessdate = 2008-04-04]


*"I'll Cry Instead"
*"A Hard Day's Night"
*"I Should Have Known Better"
*"Can't Buy Me Love"
*"If I Fell"
*"And I Love Her"
*"I'm Happy Just to Dance with You"
*"Ringo's Theme (This Boy)"
*"Tell Me Why"
*"Don't Bother Me" — written by George Harrison, notwithstanding the film's closing credit "songs by John Lennon and Paul McCartney"
*"I Wanna Be Your Man"
*"All My Loving"
*"She Loves You" [cite web | url = http://www.hollywoodteenmovies.com/AHardDaysNight.html | title = A Hard Days Night | accessdate = 2008-04-05]


* "I'll Cry Instead" was intended for the film but was cut, later appearing in a prologue for a 1980s reissue by Universal Pictures.
* "You Can't Do That" was actually filmed as part of the concert, but was cut from the film's final version; some of the footage can be seen on the documentary "The Making of "A Hard Day's Night".

* In addition to the soundtrack album, an EP (in mono) of songs from the film titled "Extracts From The Film A Hard Day's Night" was released by Parlophone (GEP 8920) on 6 November 1964, having the following tracks:
**Side A
#"I Should Have Known Better"
#"If I Fell"
**Side B
#"Tell Me Why"
#"And I Love Her"

Release history

"A Hard Day's Night" was originally released by United Artists and in 1979 rights to the film were transferred to its producer, Walter Shenson, who in 1982 granted rights to Universal Pictures for a cinematic reissue. Universal added a prologue consisting of a montage of photographic stills from the film shoot edited to a soundtrack of the song "I'll Cry Instead", a recording once considered for the film and included on the US soundtrack album but eventually not used. In 1984, MPI Home Video, under license from Shenson, first released "A Hard Day's Night" on home video in the VHS, Betamax and Laserdisc formats, which all included the prologue. [cite book | title = Beatlemania, the history of the Beatles on film: An illustrated filmography | last = Harry | first = Bill | publisher = Avon (Harper-Collins) | location = New York | year = 1985 | isbn = 978-0380895571]

The movie was also released by Criterion in both a single-disc CLV and a dual-disc CAV Laserdisc format. The additional features section on the CAV edition include the original theatrical trailer, an interview with Richard Lester, and his "The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film". [cite web | url = http://www.rarebeatles.com/photopg5/laserd.htm | title = Beatles Laserdiscs | accessdate = 2008-04-04 ]

In 1993, Voyager Company produced a Mac format CD-Rom with most of Criterion's elements, including the original script. It was briefly issued by MPI on DVD without any additional content. [cite web | url = http://www.amazon.com/Hard-Days-Night-Voyager-Company/dp/1559402652 | title = Hard Days Night (Audio CD) | accessdate = 2008-04-04]

In 2000, Miramax Films reissued the film theatrically in the U.S., and on a collector's edition DVD two years later, as well as its final issue in the VHS format. The film had been transferred from the restored 35 mm negative and presented in 1.66:1 Widescreen. (As the movie was originally filmed in Academy 1.37:1, the image was cropped slightly for the 2002 DVD release). The film's full-screen image was retained for the VHS release, however. The prologue that Universal added in 1982 is absent on Miramax releases. cite web | url = http://video.movies.go.com/products/1830103.html | title = A Hard Day's Night (DVD) | accessdate = 2008-04-04]

In addition to the original film, the DVD edition contained a bonus disc with over 7 hours of additional material including interviews with cast and crew members and Beatles associates. The DVD was produced by Beatles historian and producer Martin Lewis, a longtime friend of Shenson.

40th anniversary cast and crew reunion screening

On 6 July 2004, the 40th anniversary of the film's world premiere, a private cast and crew reunion screening was hosted in London by DVD producer Martin Lewis. The screening was attended by McCartney, actors Victor Spinetti, John Junkin, David Janson and many crew members. In media interviews at the event, McCartney disclosed that while he had seen the film many times on video, he had not seen the film on the 'big screen' since its 1964 premiere.cite web |first= |last= |url=http://www.beatlesnews.com/ahdn.htm |title=Exclusive - The Making of the 'A Hard Day's Night DVD - a Behind The Scenes Report |publisher=Beatle News |accessdate=2008-02-27]


External links

*imdb title|0058182|title=A Hard Day's Night
*amg movie|id=1:21522|title=A Hard Day's Night
*rotten-tomatoes|id=beatles_a_hard_days_night|title=A Hard Day's Night
* [http://www.rarebeatles.com/photopg5/laserd.htm Beatles Laserdisc]

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