Complete A-Z list

The Beatles - Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years


Stars: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Elvis Costello, Whoopi Goldberg, Sigourney Weaver

Director: Ron Howard

Shorn of half an hour from its original runtime, this is a rather fuzzy - in more ways than one - account of the Beatlemania that, at its height, engulfed millions of teenage girls in the early to mid 1960s.

The overriding emanation from the group performing in its formative years in one of joy but, in the film's latter stages, it gives way to exhaustion, as the grind of touring from city to city and country to country takes its toll, with the band tired of trying to play songs that no one in a screaming 25,000-strong stadium can really hear.

There are a few flashes of the group's celebrated humour and a nice moment when they refuse to play in front of an American audience if it's segregated. But so many of the images here are blurred or inadequate that you get a headache just watching, and wish that director Howard would simply show us one or two numbers all the way through.

The group, self-described as 'a four-headed monster', stress the camaraderie that helped them get through it all, so it's sad to realise that it all split apart after a mere eight years, even though that time did bring forth an extraordinary number of memorable songs of all sorts, from the toe-tapping vocals of the early 1960s to the innovative work of later times.

A few years earlier, the world had been gripped by Elvis fever; and there's a telling shot, almost out of vision and perhaps unintentional, of a cinema marquee advertising the Beatles' first film A Hard Day's Night. In smaller type beneath, the supporting feature stars Elvis Presley.

David Quinlan

USA 2016. UK Distributor: StudioCanal. Colour/black and white.
106 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 11 Sep 2016