Miramax rereleases "A Hard Day's Night" -- with a restored picture and soundtrack -- in New York and Los Angeles today. This review originally appeared in The Hollywood Reporter on July 21, 1964.
In their first feature, "A Hard Day's Night", the Beatles display a flair for knockabout comedy and slapstick when they're not beating out some dozen of their tunes, including six new ones. The film is mad, mad and crazy, shrewdly designed for the teenage and calculated also to attract the curious and the oldsters who enjoy this sort of thing.
The shrieking, screaming teenage reaction was evident at a packed invitational afternoon screening at an upper Broadway theater. The mere appearance of a Beatle set off a chain reaction of screeching. When this mingled with the screams of pursuing teenagers on the screen, the result was pandemonium.
The Liverpool string quartet collectively achieves stardom in their maiden cinematic effort, and the film may be expected to be the first in a series.
Produced by Walter Shenson
, directed by Richard Lester
and written by Alun Owen
, the team that delivered "The Mouse on the Moon", the film purports to chronicle 36 hours in the life of the moptops, hours that are normal because they're hectic. The riot starts as they take off for their next engagement, continues with their arrival in the provincial city and rehearsal and staging of a TV show. Always there are mobs of young girls in hot pursuit.
The script cleverly makes use of the Beatles' individual personalities, and while Norman Rossington
as the harassed manager, Wilfrid Brambell
(of TV's "Steptoe & Son") as a fictional grandfather and Victor Spinetti
as a neurotic director have their moments in counter-plot, it's the Beatles' show all the way. Ringo Starr
in a solo sequence displays potential as a mime.
While imaginative and often offbeat, the photography is lacking by top standards in on-the-spot location shooting, and editing is not as fluent as it might be in integrating the fast-moving scenes. The sound at times doesn't help American audiences to understand the quaint dialect and slang expressions.
But only the experts and the finicky will cavil at these deficiencies. There's a host of young American females waiting for this picture like the world is waiting for the sunrise.
A HARD DAY'S NIGHT
Producer: Walter Shenson
Director: Richard Lester
Screenwriter: Alun Owen
Director of photography: Gilbert Taylor
Art director: Ray Simm
Music director: George Martin
Songs by: John Lennon, Paul McCartney
Sound: H.L. Bird, Stephen Dalby
Editor: John Jympson
Associate producer: Dennis O'Dell
Assistant director: John D. Merriman
Cast: The Beatles (John Lennon, Paul McCartney
, George Harrison, Ringo Starr
), Wilfrid Brambell
, Norman Rossington
, Victor Spinetti
, John Junkin
, Deryck Guyler
, Anna Quayle.
Running time -- 85 minutes
MPAA rating: G