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Hard Day's Night, A (reissue)


Stars: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Wilfrid Brambell, Kenneth Haigh, Norman Rossington, Derek Nimmo

Director: Richard Lester

A chance for a new generation to appreciate the impact of The Beatles in their first film, a kaleidoscope of carefully choreographed antics with dry Liverpudlian humour well to the fore.

And, with Lester directing at an 80-miles-an-hour pace, and a sharply witty screenplay by Alun Owen, it's a very funny and highly enjoyable movie into the bargain - with the soundtrack turned up a few decibels above the norm just for good measure.

The Beatles' humour here drops somewhere between The Marx Brothers and the Keystone Kops, but nearer the former with their witty lunacy. They each - Lennon especially - show a deft touch for the throwaway joke, with the two funniest scenes involving a a wacky wild fling as the Fab Four escape from it all, and a Press conference where they're more than a match for their inquisitors.

"How did you find America?' asks one. Replies John: 'Left after Greenland'. It's the way the Beatles deliver a line like this rather than the crack itself that had 1960s' audiences rolling in the aisles.

The story covers 36 hours in the hectic life of the group - always pursued by hordes of screaming fans. Paul's grandfather (Brambell), who accompanies them, is a born trouble-stirrer, and nags at Ringo, whom he sees to be the object of banter from the other three because of his small stature and large nose. Eventually, Ringo is goaded into running away and ends up being arrested. Of course, the other three get him back just in time for the show.

It scarcely matters. The guitars clang continually away to keep fans at fever pitch, while the gags, visual and verbal, come thick and fast. And, of course, the songs are all now classics. It's another era, to be sure, but still highly recommended viewing.

David Quinlan

UK 1964. UK Distributor: Metrodome. Black and white.
87 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: U.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 29 Jun 2014