Help! (film)

Help! (film)

Infobox Film
name = Help!

caption =
director = Richard Lester
producer = Walter Shenson
writer = Charles Wood, Marc Behm (story)
starring = John Lennon
Paul McCartney
George Harrison
Ringo Starr
Leo McKern
Eleanor Bron
Patrick Cargill
Victor Spinetti
Roy Kinnear
Mal Evans
music = The Beatles
George Martin
Ken Thorne
cinematography = David Watkin
editing = John Victor Smith
distributor = United Artists
released = July 29, 1965
runtime = 92 min.
country = U.K.
awards =
language = English
budget =
preceded_by = "A Hard Day's Night"
followed_by = "The Beatles at Shea Stadium"
amg_id = 1:22130
imdb_id = 0059260

"Help!" is a 1965 film starring The Beatles and featuring Leo McKern, Eleanor Bron, Victor Spinetti, John Bluthal, Roy Kinnear and Patrick Cargill. The soundtrack was released as an album, also called "Help!".


An eastern cult (a parody of the Thuggee cult) is about to sacrifice a woman to the goddess Kaili [a possible reference to Kali] . Just as she is about to be killed they notice that she is not wearing the sacrificial ring. It's revealed that Ringo Starr, drummer of The Beatles, has it; sent to him by the victim and her sister, who is also the high priestess of the cult (both of whom are fans of The Beatles), and it's on his finger. Determined to retrieve the ring and sacrifice the woman, the great Swami Clang (McKern), the high priestess Ahme (Bron) and several cult members including Bhuta (Bluthal) leave for London. After several failed attempts to steal the ring they confront him in an Indian restaurant. Ringo learns that if he doesn't return the ring soon, he will become the next sacrifice. Ringo then discovers that the ring is stuck on his finger.

Next, they seek a jeweler to remove it but the tools he uses all break on the ring. In a desperate effort to remove the ring, the band resorts to the bumbling efforts of a mad scientist, Foot (Spinetti) and his assistant Algernon (Kinnear). His laboratory is full of surplus British made equipment and Foot despises anything British. When his equipment turns out to have no effect on the ring, Foot decides that he, too, must have it. Before he can do anything else, Ahme comes in with a pink Walther P-38 pistol, rescues the group and they return home.

Ahme, now revealed as being on the group's side, tells the group that her sister's time has passed and she is now out of danger. Ringo is now the sacrifice victim. Ahme proposes to inject Ringo with a potion that would shrink his finger and the ring would come off. She tells Ringo to be brave and suggests, to the camera, that if he had been brave; "none of this would have been necessary". As she prepares the injection, the gang starts to pound on the doors. Startled, Ahme drops the needle into Paul's leg and "he" shrinks! The thugs break into the room and a fight ensues. Ahme flees. Ringo is doused with red paint, thus ruining his best suit and causing him to mock-cry (it is already established in the movie that the victim has to be painted red) and a swordsman approaches. Foot comes in, shoots his Webley and wounds the man. The gang retreats and Foot makes his attempt to take the ring. Paul unshrinks and John subsequently starts to swing a lamp at Foot who tries to shoot him, but his gun is empty. Blaming this on the fact that the gun is British made (as well as suggesting what he could have done with a Luger), Foot retreats. The boys are left to sort things out.

The band flees to the Austrian Alps for refuge but both thugs and Foot follow in pursuit. Swami skis down a slope that Ahme told him was the way to get to further pursue the Beatles, but turns out to be the finish line of a Cross-Country Ski race. Swami is the winner, and inadvertently gets held up by receiving a gold medal. The group escapes back to England and they ask for "protection" from Scotland Yard; and get it in the form of a cowardly Inspector (Cargill). After being attacked whilst recording in the middle of Salisbury Plain surrounded by the British Army, they hide in Buckingham Palace until they are almost captured by Foot. From there, they run to the Bahamas, followed by Scotland Yard officers, Foot and Clang. After Ringo is nearly captured, the other Beatles pose as him in order to lure the cult members, who are then arrested by the Bahamas Police. Despite their best efforts, Ringo is captured by Foot, who takes him on to a ship intending to cut off his finger to get the ring.

Ahme rescues Ringo by giving Foot a shrinking solution in exchange. The two try to escape the ship by jumping into the water, however Ringo can't swim. They are captured by the cult and tied down on the beach where they are surrounded by two battalions of Kukhri Rifles. Clang begins the ceremony to sacrifice Ringo, after telling him that the cult members are prepared to attack the rest of the Beatles and police when they come to the rescue and that if Ringo attempts to warn them he will die instantly.

Ringo manages to untie himself and tries to wave to his band mates to warn them away. With this act of courage (a subplot implies he is a coward; which is why he hasn't been able to get the ring off), the ring falls from his finger. He puts the ring on Clang's hand, saying "Get sacrificed! I don't subscribe to your religion!" Ahme declares that Clang will be the next sacrifice, as he is wearing the ring. The movie ends with "Help!" playing one last time and everyone running around. Clang manages to remove the ring and gives it to Foot and Algernon (who ask him to translate the Eastern text on the shrinking solution bottle). They, however, leave the ring in the sand while the police rush about arresting the cult while The Beatles playfully run around; the ring ends up on Bhuta's finger and "he" becomes the target for sacrifice! The movie ends with a dedication to "Elias Howe, who, in 1846, invented the sewing machine".

The credits feature the characters acting up in front of the camera, with the jewel of the ring being placed in front of the lens. The music playing during the credits is the Overture of "The Barber of Seville" by Gioachino Rossini, with The Beatles adding their own laughing and comments.


The Beatles said the film was inspired by the Marx Brothers classic "Duck Soup";Fact|date=April 2008 it was also directly satirical of the James Bond series of films.Fact|date=April 2008 At the time of the original release of "Help!", its distributor, United Artists, also held the rights to the Bond series (now owned by UA sister studio MGM.)


According to interviews conducted with Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr for "The Beatles Anthology", director Richard Lester was given a larger budget for this film than he had for "A Hard Day's Night" thanks to the commercial success of the latter. Thus, this feature film was in colour and was shot on several exotic foreign locations. It was also given a fuller musical score than "A Hard Day's Night", provided by a full orchestra, and including pieces of well known classical music: Wagner's Lohengrin, Act III Overture, Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (Ode to Joy), and, during the end credits and with their own comic vocal interpretation, Rossini's Barber of Seville overture.

"Help!" was set in London, Salisbury Plain, the Austrian Alps, Providence Island in the Bahamas and Twickenham Film Studios, beginning in the Bahamas on 23rd February 1965. Ringo Starr commented in "The Beatles Anthology" that they were in the Bahamas for the hot weather scenes, and therefore had to wear light clothing even though it was rather cold. According to "The Beatles Anthology", during the restaurant sequence filmed in early April, George began to discover Indian-style music, which would be a key element in future songs such as Norwegian Wood. Filming finished on 14th April at Ailsa Avenue in Twickenham.

The Beatles did not particularly enjoy the filming of the movie, nor were they pleased with the end product. Lennon said in 1970 that they felt like extras in their own movie.

A contributing factor was exhaustion attributable to their very busy schedule of writing, recording and touring. Afterwards they were hesitant to begin another film project, and indeed "Help!" was their last full-length scripted theatrical film. Their obligation for a third film to United Artists was met by the 1970 documentary film "Let It Be". The 1968 animated film "Yellow Submarine" did not meet contractual obligations because it did not star the Beatles themselves, and their only live appearance was featured for less than two minutes at the film's conclusion.

"Haze of marijuana"

The Beatles later said the film was shot in a "haze of marijuana". According to Ringo Starr's interviews in "The Beatles Anthology", during the Austrian Alps film shooting he and Paul ran off over the hill from the "curling" scene set to smoke a joint.

In the "Beatles Anthology Director's Cut", George Harrison admitted that they were smoking marijuana on the plane ride all the way to the Bahamas.

Paul McCartney also shared some of his memories of when they were filming "Help!":


The song titles that appear in the film are:

* "Help!"
* "You're Going to Lose That Girl"
* "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away"
* "Ticket to Ride"
* "I Need You"
* "The Night Before"
* "Another Girl"
* "She's A Woman" (heard in the background on a tape machine)
* "A Hard Day's Night" (played by Indian band and as an instrumental)
* "I'm Happy Just to Dance with You" (played by a band during the bike-riding scene)
* "You Can't Do That" (played as an instrumental during the Austrian Alps sequence)

The seven main songs formed the first half on the "Help!" soundtrack album. The second half consisted of new Beatles songs recorded at the same time.

Critical response

Critical opinion at the time of release was positive, but the film did not achieve the level of acclaim comparable to that for "A Hard Day's Night". The absurd comedic style and frenetic pacing were in some ways a forerunner of future British comedy, such as "Monty Python's Flying Circus". The film had a direct influence on the American television series "The Monkees", which was patterned very closely upon the film.Fact|date=November 2007


A novelisation entitled "The Beatles in Help!" was written by Al Hine and published by Dell in 1965.

A sequence featuring Frankie Howerd and Wendy Richard was filmed but left out of final editing owing to its length. However, the sequence was left in the film novelization.

Release history

Like "A Hard Day's Night", "Help!" was originally distributed theatrically by United Artists (UA handled distribution from 1965 to the end of 1980). In January 1981, rights to the movie reverted from UA to producer Walter Shenson, and the movie was withdrawn from circulation. "Help!" was released several times in different video formats by MPI Home Video and The Criterion Collection. On VHS, a version was released during February 1987 through MPI, along with a reissue of "A Hard Day's Night" the very same day, and was followed by a special-edition release on October 31, 1995. MPI also issued a CLV laserdisc in 1995 and two releases on DVD, the first as a single DVD release on November 12, 1997 and the second as part of "The Beatles DVD Collector's Set" on August 8, 2000.

LaserDisc releases include a Criterion CAV laserdisc and a Voyager CLV laserdisc in 1987, each of which had three pressings. The first pressings had no UPC code on the gatefold covers while the other two had the UPC code either as a sticker or printed directly on the jacket. The film's transfer on the CAV laserdiscs was done correctly so that each still frame is motionless and ultrasharp. The supplemental section, which has never been available on any other home video release, contains the following:

* original theatrical trailer (which includes deleted scenes)
* silent footage of the film set and of the world premiere
* still photos, some of which are introduced by text describing the production history of the film
* posters
* sheet music
* record jackets
* radio ads (on audio during the silent footage)
* an open interview, originally designed for disc jockeys. By reading prompts on the screen, one can pretend to talk to the Beatles.

In June 2007, a version of 'Help!', sub-titled in Korean, became available on However, by July 2007, all home video versions of the film were pulled from the market because of rights issues involving Apple Corps - now the full rights holders to the film. The rights issues were finally resolved and Apple Corps/EMI released a new double DVD version with a fully restored film negative and newly remixed in 2.0 stereo and 5.1 surround sound of the film. This came in standard 2xDVD packaging and 2xDVD deluxe edition box set on October 30, 2007 in the UK and November 6th, 2007 in America. []


*John, throughout the film, is quite mean to Ringo. (Although he does refer to Ringo as his "best friend" at one point.) In the Beatles cartoon series, John is, in many episodes, also quite unfair to Ringo; there is perhaps a chance that the producers of the cartoon series stuck with this concept in order to match his character in this film.
*Although it is quite obvious that the Beatles were getting chased by an Indian cult (the Thuggee cult), especially since Ringo was supposed to be sacrificed for Kaili/Kali, it was never explicitly mentioned. The script sidestepped saying "India" by saying "Eastern" instead. For example, when George Harrison is speaking to a chef of an Indian restaurant, he asks "Doesn't the Eastern flavour come rather expensive?" The instruments in the restaurant scene include sitar, an Indian instrument, and oud, an Arabic one; the dancer is also clearly dancing in an Arabic style rather than Indian, very much mixing cultural influences. Also, when Ahme gives Foot the shrinking juice, he tries to read the label but laments that he can't because it is "written in Eastern".
*Among the film's original working titles were "Beatles Phase II" and, as suggested by Walter Shenson, "Eight Arms to Hold You". In fact, all copies of the single ("Ticket To Ride/Yes It Is") and early copies of the US-released 45 ("Help!/I'm Down") are printed with that as the movie title.
*The "channel swimmer" who makes appearances during the curling scene and at the end of the film is Beatles road manager Mal Evans.
*The video for the band Travis' "Sing" includes the band seen on a black-and-white television. The sequence imitates the opening of The Beatles' performance in "Help", down to the choice of camera angles, and with suction-cup arrows replacing the darts.
*A sequence with the Beatles practicing acting lessons, which featured actress Wendy Richard (Miss Brahms of "Are You Being Served?"), was filmed but was cut from the final product.
*A scene involving The Beatles driving around the Bahamas in 'Beetle' cars was cut out of the final film.
*The book that John pulls out of his secret compartment in his room is a copy of his book, "A Spaniard in the Works".
* Director Richard Lester originally approached Peter Sellers to play Clang, Sellers declined because he didn't want to be upstaged by the Beatles.


External links

*" [ Help!] " at Rotten Tomatoes
* [ The Beatles]
* [ Beatles Laserdiscs]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Help — (h[e^]lp), v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Helped} (h[e^]lpt) (Obs. imp. {Holp} (h[=o]lp), p. p. {Holpen} (h[=o]l p n)); p. pr. & vb. n. {Helping}.] [AS. helpan; akin to OS. helpan, D. helpen, G. helfen, OHG. helfan, Icel. hj[=a]lpa, Sw. hjelpa, Dan. hielpe …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • help*/*/*/ — [help] verb I 1) [I/T] to give someone support or information so that they can do something more easily Can you help me find my glasses?[/ex] Her brother offered to help her with her homework.[/ex] Her work involves helping people to find… …   Dictionary for writing and speaking English

  • help — verb. Help is one of the oldest words in English, going back to the time of King Alfred (9c). It has two principal meanings in current English: ‘to assist’ (Can I help you?) and ‘to prevent’ (I can t help it). The connection between these two… …   Modern English usage

  • help — [help] vt. [ME helpen < OE helpan, akin to Ger helfen < IE base * k̑elb , *k̑elp , to help > early Lith sělbinos, to aid] 1. to make things easier or better for (a person); aid; assist; specif., a) to give (one in need or trouble)… …   English World dictionary

  • — „Ihr Amtshelfer im Internet“ ist eine behördenübergreifende Plattform der österreichischen Bundesverwaltung. (kurz „HELP“) begann 1997 als Informationsangebot über Behördenwege für die Bürger und hat sich seither zu einer Drehscheibe… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • — „Ihr Amtshelfer im Internet“ ist eine behördenübergreifende Plattform der österreichischen Bundesverwaltung. (kurz „HELP“) begann 1997 als Informationsangebot über Behördenwege für die Bürger und hat sich seither zu einer Drehscheibe… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Help — Help, n. [AS. help; akin to D. hulp, G. h[ u]lfe, hilfe, Icel. hj[=a]lp, Sw. hjelp, Dan. hielp. See {Help}, v. t.] [1913 Webster] 1. Strength or means furnished toward promoting an object, or deliverance from difficulty or distress; aid; ^; also …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Help — (dt. Hilfe) steht für: Help!, Album der Beatles Help (Band), eine Schweizer Jazzband Help! (Lied), Lied der Beatles Help – Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe, deutsche Hilfsorganisation Help TV, deutscher Fernsehsender help – Das Konsumentenmagazin des ORF… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • help — help·able; help·er; help·ful; help·ful·ness; help·less; help·less·ly; help·less·ness; help·mate; help; help·ful·ly; help·ing·ly; …   English syllables

  • HELP — (engl. ‚Hilfe‘) steht für: Help!, das fünfte Album der Beatles, das e Government Portal Österreichs Help TV, ein deutscher Fernsehsender Hilfefunktion, bei Software eine Auswahl an Informationen, Bedienungsanleitungen und Support… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Help TV — Senderlogo Allgemeine Informationen Empfang: Kabel, Satellit …   Deutsch Wikipedia