A Hard Day's Night (1964) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
224 Reviews
Sort by:
This film "converted" me
I was in my mid-thirties when the Beatles came to America, and appeared at Shea Stadium and (famously) on the Ed Sullivan. I saw their success, with the screaming girls, as just another teen-age phenomenon. I must have read in some column that this film was interesting for its direction and photography. That was true. What I did not expect was that I would be caught up by the Beatles themselves, both as personalities and as musicians. Those who comment adversely on their lack of acting ability are way off base, because neither they nor the director were looking for dramatic skill; only for a degree of naturalness, which was achieved. Those who criticize the technical aspects are not well-acquainted with new developments in film technique especially in France; for instance, the jump shot. Those who criticize lack of plot must be interested only in straight narrative. I suggest that all the previously mentioned critics see the documentary materials on the making of the film, particularly those contained in the DVD set. They will see, for better or worse, that the creators and performers achieved what they wanted, allowing room for the unexpected. For forty years now I have been an admirer, own all their recordings, etc.; and taught this movie in my history of film class regularly. Don't believe the nay-sayers; see for yourself.
96 out of 106 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The Age of Innocence
caspian197822 December 2003
This is it. There has never been and never will be another band like the Beatles. The innocence of the generation is showcased in A Hard Day's Night. The perfect musical for any audience, the Beatles capture a time that can never be repeated. Like 4 childhood friends knowing that the Old can never get them down, they represented everything good and right of the world. They reflected the generation that wanted to be heard. Almost 40 years later, they are still as young as ever. Timeless, beautiful, true. A Hard Day's Night is perfection!
84 out of 97 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Pipers At The Gates Of Dawn
Bill Slocum26 October 2004
What can you say about the film that started it all? Where popular culture as we know it took shape in a "let there be light" Genesis kind of way? Where pop rock became worth listening and not just dancing to? Where John, Paul, George, and Ringo became firmly established as individual personalities as well as the premier entertainment troupe of the 20th century?

Only this: "A Hard Day's Night" is good, yes, and significant, but it's fun, too. Still, and above everything else, it's a lot of fun.

"A Hard Day's Night" is probably more responsible for the Beatles' enduring image in our culture than any single song they made. It came out in 1964, within a few short months of the Fab Four's sensational appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show that truly launched them globally, though they had been making great pop music for more than a year which was all the rage across Europe. "Hard Day's Night" captures the band when they were still relatively provincial and innocent, not yet in the "marijuana for breakfast" phase they were well into the following year when they made the zanier "Help!" LSD, Yoko, and the Maharishi were not even on the radar, nor was the psychedelic era the Beatles would usher in less than three years later. Finally "Hard Day's Night" clicked not only with the kids but the adults, who previously viewed the band as a motley band of overplayed haircuts. It gave all the generations of the time something they could agree on. These guys were good.

The story of "Hard Day's Night" is thin by design. We see the Beatles in slightly fictionalized form, with a manager named Norm and a roadie named Shake, traveling by train across England and ducking into a studio to make a TV appearance. Paul has his grandfather along, a codgy old troublemaker who nevertheless is "very clean." The irony of the movie is that the old guy, played by British TV star Wilfrid Brambell, is the one that continually ruffles the feathers of society while the Boys themselves play things fairly straight and legal.

Grandpa has the best take on the meager storyline: "I thought I was supposed to be getting a change of scenery, and so far I've been in a train and a room and car and a room and a room and a room!" Brambell works very well in the film, a needful focal point in a film that requires some bearings in order to work. Of the Beatles themselves, Ringo makes the strongest single impression by showcasing his vulnerable side while John probably has the best moments with his wacky, caustic humor. George shines, too, in a scene with a trend-happy fashion maven, and married one of the girls on the train in real life, so he did pretty well here, too.

Is it the best Beatles film? I think "Yellow Submarine" is better for what it's worth, but "Hard Day's Night" is the best film actually featuring the Beatles for who they were and what they were about.

Great music, too. The sequence on the train with "I Should Have Known Better" still works as a video, with all the baggage-car bric-a-brac thrown in for ambiance. Then there's "Can't Buy Me Love," which shows the Beatles in full-tilt boogie mode after momentarily escaping their studio confines. "And I Love Her" has some of the film's greatest camera work, very moody and intense in its focus on how well the Beatles worked in a TV studio setting.

As a film, "Hard Day's Night" lacks a bit of heart. Not that it's cold or cruel, just a trifle too detached to get enveloped by, the way one does with great cinema. I don't really miss the fact that "Help!" wasn't a true sequel; "Hard Day's Night" works for its 90-plus minutes but doesn't leave you wanting more. The relationships between the band members, and with Grandpa, Norm, and Shake, are left unexplored, and you don't really miss that as much as you maybe should.

But as a collection of small, witty moments interspersed with great music, "Hard Day's Night" is a pleasure through-and-through. Like the scene where John cuts the tailor's measure ("I now declare this bridge open") or has that absurd corridor chat with Anna Quayle ("She looks more like him than I do.") Or when Ringo tells the crotchety train passenger who complains he "fought the war for your sort" that "I bet you're sorry you won!"
44 out of 50 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A film that documents the greatest entertainment phenomenon in history.
Guy DeMatties24 October 2005
If anyone wants to witness the phenomenon that was "Beatlemania" in the 1960s, all they have to do is view "A Hard Day's Night". Although it's a fictional account of two days in the life of the rock group on tour, it captures the essence of what their life on the road was actually like. It also served to enhance their "personalities" as individuals, as well as show their spirit of fun-loving lads as a group. And as a bonus... the music throughout is superb! Sprinkled with Beatles' hits, Richard Lester's film almost serves as a blueprint for the music video form that took over the airwaves in the 1980s. Filmed with humor, great tunes and fast-paced editing, "A Hard Day's Night" usually never fails in delivering smiles and pleasure. If you're a music fan, and a rock and roll buff, the film is a must!
32 out of 37 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Solid gold record of the Liverpool miracles at the point of making pop history.
Peter Hayes8 April 2004
The Beatles travel down from Liverpool to record a TV show.

If I was to meet Richard Lester I would shake his hand and thank him for recording the Beatles during the middle part of their career when they could entertain but hadn't yet shot off in to outer space. Without this we would have a piece missing from their history - and lets be frank - our history. They changed the world and all they had to change it with were electric guitars and their personalities!

The script is clever in that it showcases the personalities of the group without asking them to do much acting. Wilfred Brambell tags along to give comedy relief and the whole thing fits in plenty of songs that are good - but not as good as what soon followed. They are still tied to the Northern dance halls.

I have always thought that if they had a died in a car crash at this point they would be a mystery to the modern audience - hugely popular at the time - but not particularly stand-out from the other bands around. Like the way we regard Charlie Chaplin or Mary Pickford - both incredibly famous in their prime - but little regarded today.

Whether you like to admit it or not there are three geniuses at work and Ringo Starr. So I guess that it is fitting that Ringo comes across the best of the group: Down-to-earth, chatty, witty and willing to talk to anyone. Even the kids down by the river. John Lennon had a comic wit that could have given him another career had his music not been up to scratch. Talk about being master of the witty comeback.

Anyone watching this film will see London as it really was at the time. Not the swinging sixties that everyone pretends it was. Grubby shops, unpainted windows that look about to fall out of their frames, empty streets bar a few beat up cars.

I guess you could say this is the perfect record of Beatlemania: The driving beat songs (cranked out even quicker on stage), the backstage sieges, the ping-pong put downs that is the hallmark of English humour, the screaming that overpowered the performance. Enjoyable at the time (as light entertainment) it becomes an important historical document now and every generation should see it. Your pop culture education depends on it.
67 out of 82 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
"The Best British Musical/Comedy Film Of 1964 - All About A British Musical Pop Group Called...The Beatles!"
Johnny Angel2 December 1999
"The first 60's film to ever waken my musical interest in pop music and electric guitars...not to mention, I wasn't even born then!" The film is full of great music and British humor by the Fab Four. It stars The Beatles themselves - John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr in their first acting debut. The music they perform in this 'black and white' film are 7 'Lennon & McCartney' classics - from the title song, "A Hard Day's Night", to "Can't Buy Me Love" and "She Loves You". In the comedy skits of the film, The Beatles' drummer Ringo Starr, definitely leaves the other lads in a so-call 'run against time'. It's a fun and exciting film...a pop film on what 'Beatlemania' was all about back then in 1964. This classic is a must see for all upcoming Beatle fans from all around the world, as well as people and kids of all ages. "And for those of you who never felt the magic and excitement of The Beatles...like me, I promise that you will by the end of this fab film!"
46 out of 55 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Fun and inventive- a magical musical which stands outside its time
ametaphysicalshark11 October 2007
"A Hard Day's Night" doesn't seem dated now, but it does seem familiar. We're used to all its madcap editing and photography now thanks to television and music videos, and we can only sit back and imagine (or try to remember) what it looked like through eyes that had never seen anything like it before. Watching it today, "A Hard Day's Night" still seems fresh and original, because it's still different (we're used to music videos, but not feature-length music videos), but to the 1960's audience it would have seemed entirely different from anything they had previously seen (especially if they were expecting a traditional rock musical, considering that the only good one of those made prior to this which I've seen is "Go Johnny Go").

Lester infuses the film with nonstop quick cutting and energetic pacing, giving the film an almost documentary-like feel (and somehow managing to integrate the biggest pop band in the world into the French 'nouvelle vague' style of film-making). When Orson Welles was interviewed in Playboy magazine in 1967 he said that the film directors that appealed to him the most were 'the old masters- by which I mean John Ford, John Ford, and John Ford. With Ford at his best you feel that the movie had lived and breathed in the real world, even though it may have been written by mother Machree'. When questioned about younger directors he enjoyed the most he named Stanley Kubrick and Richard Lester.

It seems absurd after Kubrick's long and distinguished career and Lester's career which while featuring some famously good films, also includes "Butch and Sundance: The Early Days" (a cheap prequel with none of the original cast), and the notoriously horrible "Superman III" to compare the two directors, but looking at Welles' reasoning behind loving John Ford films, it all makes sense. "A Hard Day's Night" really does feel real, we are basically transported into a day in The Beatles' life and given a VIP pass to accompany them wherever they go. It's a fascinating adventure which the screenplay handles very well.

The Beatles were not actors, but they really come off as themselves because all they have to be is the cocky, wisecracking, and rather charming men they were in real life. The screenwriter is smart enough not to provide them with any real acting, which really helps the film. That's not to say there isn't any good acting in the film, quite to the contrary actually, since Wilfrid Bramble is hilarious as McCartney's grandfather and was presumably cast thanks to his very funny co-starring role on Britcom "Steptoe and Son", which was one of the shows I frequently watched as a kid (and was remade for American audiences as "Sanford and Son").

The film is effortlessly charming, relying on the Beatles' natural charisma to carry the film but also including enough wit to warrant comparisons to later great British comedies and also to the later Beatles films (including Lester's later, slightly funnier and more experimental "Help!"). The Beatles were not yet the musical innovators they would later become, but there's something I personally prefer about their simple, short, and perfect Merseybeat songs, especially those on this soundtrack, which contains some of the most joyous and memorable pop songs ever written.

18 out of 20 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
you can't beat the Beatles
Lee Eisenberg9 June 2005
Classic cinema verite has the Fab Four going hither and thither, accompanied by Paul's "very clean" grandfather John (Wilfrid Brambell). Naturally, it wouldn't be a Beatles movie without their music. And the music always fits the scene (unlike so many musicals). My favorite scene was on the train where John, Paul, George and Ringo meet a middle-aged man, and...well, let's just say that it did a really funny job showing the generation gap. In short, you can always count on the Beatles to do something great, as every one of their songs showed. They may have had a "hard" time making this movie, but they would have to agree that it was worth it; people could easily spend "days" and "nights" watching it.
31 out of 37 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
preppy-319 December 2000
A "typical" day in the life of the Beatles. They have to deal with Paul's grandfather (Wilfrid Brambell), a neurotic TV director (Victor Spinetti), their long-suffering managers and tons of screaming fans.

No real plot, just a lot of very lively sequences overflowing with one-liners and non sequiturs. The tone of the scenes go all over the place--one is full of verbal puns, the next visual gags, then absurdity reigns, THEN surrealism! It's a credit to director Richard Lester that he manages to keep all these various shifts in tone flowing smoothly. It's great to see that the Beatles are obviously enjoying themselves every minute. Some of the jokes are obscure (the "clean" jokes were based on remarks made about the Beatles back in 1962) and the accents are sometimes difficult. But it's great to see the Beatles so young and full of life and when they sing the film becomes magical. Also they have a good cast backing them up--Brambell and Spinetti are just great (and very funny). If you don't like the Beatles or their music, you might want to skip this film. But if you do, it's a must-see.
32 out of 39 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The most pure unadulterated expression of joy ever put on film
jmcody29 December 1999
One of the biggest reasons film holds the effect over us the way it does is because it appeals to our emotions in ways some of the other arts cannot. This is because film incorperates sound, theatre, painting, dance and writing. That dry polemic aside, A Hard Day's Night is a fine example of what film can do. This film is one of the purest expression of joy in cinema history. What made the Beatles so fantastic as performers and ultimately as cultural icons, is they personified all of our hopes and dreams. We all wish we could be as expressive and has happy as they appeared to be. I know that much of what we see is fabricated, but one cannot fake the explosion of life we see on the screen and hear on their records. There was the celebration of life and creativity in those four young men and they shared so much of it with us. This film is a great document as to what made them so great. Richard Lester, the director, got out of the way and let them be the Beatles. The camera work and editing in this film arguably made the '60's cultural revolution. It is a perfect marriage of music to image. Without this film there never would have been an Easy Rider or even an MTV (on second thought, maybe that wouldn't be such a bad thing). Of course John, Paul, George, and Ringo couldn't completly match their images in their private lives (who could?) and of course they matured and evolved as we all have. But this film inspired many to live, to love and to create. It is such a force of positive life affirming love that it has to be savored and enjoyed. I don't apologize for dripping over it the way I do. It is a great film, on the level with Kane, Singin' in the Rain, The Seven Saumurai and others. It should be so much higher on the IMDB scale.
11 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Beatlemania in black and white
johno-217 March 2006
What a fun movie. I first saw this during it's initial theatrical release as a kid in 1964. (They gave us black and white Beatles Fan Club buttons.) Looking back through a 10 year old's eye's I couldn't wait to see The Beatles in a movie. I had seen them on TV and in magazines but an entire movie about them was going to be a watershed event in the career of the group. Indoctrinated by all the corny teen movies that mostly were made prior to Hard Day's Night you knew that if they were going to be portrayed as conventional teen idols it was going to be a bust but if it was a glimpse into what it was like being a Beatle and the London mod scene of '64 and The Beatles in their irreverent but likable persona with cool clothes and Beatle boots and lots of Beatle's music and The Beatles playing their guitars it was going to be a hit. Well it didn't disappoint. I didn't even expect there to be a story. I just wanted to see the Beatles on the big screen and hear their music. (The theater even had women playing nurses in nursing outfits and stretchers for people who fainted. Cool and campy. I have to give that theater credit for all they did. The first 50 people in got Beatles wigs.) As I grew older this film did not when I would see it on TV. Sure it was dated but it was still fun. Supporting, or in this case actual actors, Norman Rossington as Norm and Victor Spinetti as the TV Director along with Wiford Brambell as Paul's "clean" grandfather and John Junkin as Jake gave the movie a legitimate cast to cohesively hold it together and it worked well but heck, The Beatles were good on their own first time out. George Harrison's future wife, fashion model Pattie Boyd is one of the girls in the train car with the band (Her only line is "prisonors") and even future rock and pop star Phil Collins is in a scene as a teen fan. Director Richard Lester should have been at least nominated for an Academy Award as Best Director. Alun Owen did get a nomination for Best Screenplay in the only film he ever did. George Martin also received an Academy Award nomination for Scoring of Music Adaptation. Any of The Beatles songs in this film should have been nominated for Best Original Song but they weren't. Gilbert Taylor was the cinematographer for this film. He had just come off doing the cinematography for the film Dr. Strangelove. John Jympson who had just come off editing the film Zulu was the editor. This film does a wonderful job of capturing the era of mid 1960's London and Beatlemania on film in black and white. Their next film Help, also directed by Lester tried to be too James Bondish and although good was largely silly and didn't come close to HDN. This film has been with me so long and I've seen it so many times I can't help but give it a 10.
20 out of 27 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A Hard Day's Night
Jim Colyer30 August 2005
The first Beatle song I heard was "From Me To You" in the summer of 1963. I thought they were black. By October, I knew something big was going on in England. In January, 1964, I saw a clip on the Jack Paar show. It was unbelievable! The Beatles were going wild! Girls were screaming and throwing jelly beans! It was The Beatles' sound. It was the long hair! I started letting my hair grow that night. Beatle records flowed into America. The Beatles revived the rock & roll of the late 1950s, the fire. John Lennon sang Chuck Berry. Paul McCartney sang Little Richard. They took it to a new level. They had their own songs, incredible songs! They filled albums! Cousin Larry and I saw A Hard Day's Night in August, 1964. The theater was packed with teenage girls. They screamed for 90 minutes! We could not hear one word of the dialogue. It did not matter. This was Beatlemania, and there would never be anything like it again! "You Can't Do That" was cut from the film. It was my favorite. John Lennon's jealousy and possessiveness were too potent for the young audience. His primal scream at the start of the solo says it all.
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Should be a top 200 film
Carl Christensen28 December 2000
Well admittedly I'm a Beatle fan but I think this is an important enough film that should at least be in the "top 200" on IMDB. Especially since Gladiator is, what, #60? Richard Lester is a great director, the Liverpudlian script by Alun Owen is very suitable for the boys and seems like ad-libs. Also the black & white film format is perfect although supposedly it was done for monetary and not artistic reasons. If there's any flaw perhaps it drags a bit at the "concert" scene at the end (see if you can spot a child Phil Collins in the audience).

This was the first teenage exploitation film to be far more than just a vehicle for some hit songs; although there are plenty of hits to go around. By today's "N'Sync" and "Brittany Spears" standards The Beatles in this movie are practically avant-garde with a little help from Lester & Owen.

This is the best Beatle film; in "Help" they are basically just stoned on pot the whole time with a terrible plot & characters, and "Yellow Submarine" they hardly had any input other than some leftover songs. And the less said about the "Get Back/Let It Be" project and "Magical Mystery Tour" the better.
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
One of the best and most influential films ever
daved-328 December 2000
A Hard Day's Night is quite simply a masterpiece--it so thoroughly re-wrote the rulebook on filmmaking that it is impossible to appreciate today how many rules it broke. Richard Lester's direction is so innovative that 35 years later MTV probably still hasn't finished ripping him off. Alun Owens script is a wonder--so seemingly natural that it is easy to forget this isn't a documentary (at least enough people noticed there was a script to nominate it for an Oscar). And as for the acting--trained actors couldn't have portrayed the Fab Four better. Each of their personalities is captured perfectly, especially John's (when George asks why he was leaving the room, John replies, "He told us to stay here, didn't he?"

Then there's the music--glorious early Beatles!! Some of the best music ever made. This is on my short, short list of best films ever made.
8 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
fun movie
didi-515 August 2004
Directed by Richard Lester and written by Alun Owen, this is the least pretentious of the Beatles' movies, more or less mirroring their own story and featuring many of their most popular songs – along with the title track (even if it does bring back memories of the crazy send-up by Peter Sellers), there is ‘I Should Have Known Better', ‘All My Loving', ‘Can't Buy Me Love', and ‘She Loves You'.

Alongside the mop-tops playing themselves, this energetic movie also features Wilfred Brambell (Albert Steptoe) as Paul's grandad, as well as John Junkin, Victor Spinetti, Deryck Guyler, and – eek – Lionel Blair. The boys themselves can't really act but can at least play themselves – getting fan mail, giving performances, dealing with kooky fans, a typical ‘day in the life'.

‘A Hard Day's Night' is fun and perhaps the most accessible of their films to non-Beatles fans. I still can't say I rate Paul McCartney though – all eyebrows and enormous ego – the others come out of this movie better.
14 out of 20 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Now let's get a few things straight. . .
krumski1 December 2000
I am just about the biggest Beatles fan imaginable and so, axiomatically, I enjoy this movie very much. However, I think it's time to put to rest the notion of this being some kind of great film apart from its value as a keyhole onto to the Fabs' heyday. Let's face it, as pure moviemaking, this thing is a bit of a joke. The story, as such, is nonexistent, the pacing is flabby, and the "Paul's grandfather" subplot (which no one ever seems to mention in appraisals of the movie anymore, despite its taking up of a good deal of film time) is embarrassingly cheesy. On top of all that, the Beatles themselves are simply so hard to *understand* much of the time (Liverpool scouse being a very mumbled and slurred-together dialect) that quite a bit of the so-called sparkling wit just goes over (or under) your head the first three or four times you see it. Someone really should have sat the lads down with some Marx Brothers or Abbott and Costello movies to teach them at least the rudiments of enunciation and comic timing.

As a story, it's very interesting how the film portrays the Beatles as prisoners of their own fame, with an unmistakable wisp of pathos and frustration which is allowed to undergird all the wildness and comedy. This especially comes through in the sequence where Ringo leaves the band to go "parading" and enjoy some freedom (an unconscious foreshadowing of future events to boot, as Ringo was the first Beatle to ever "leave the band" - four years later during the White Album sessions). Yet, the irony is never put forth that the very people who are keeping the Beatles prisoner - their fans - are the ones for whom this movie is made and is being aimed at. A decade later, such a disparity would have forced a punk band such as the Sex Pistols to fire off a massive "F*** You!" to its audience (and, in fact, one rock star did do just this - in film, no less: Roger Waters during the amazing and squirm-inducing "In the Flesh" segment of Pink Floyd The Wall, where a concert of mindlessly adoring fans is compared none too subtly with a Nazi rally).

I'm not saying, of course, that the Beatles should have come out spitting and gobbing at their fans and tearing apart their image in A Hard Day's Night. This would have been impossible to do in mainstream cinema in 1964, anyway. What I'm saying is that by introducing such a glaring irony and then failing to deal with it in any way, the film asserts itself solidly as a product of its times and nothing more - no great and enduring piece of art, certainly. In some ways, the next year's followup, Help!, was the better film because it did not try to be anything more than a madcap Beatle travelogue (and succeeded admirably, with its pristine color, beautiful locales, and clever comic moments - although its setups do get a bit monotonous after awhile).

Of course, A Hard Day's Night *will* endure - simply because THE BEATLES endure, and this gives us the best sustained look at their performing prowess and all-around joie de vivre. The musical sequences in the film are simply glorious, particularly the orgiastic concert at the end, but even more muted moments such as when the Beatles sneak off to a nightclub to dance and intermingle with other youths to the soundtrack of their own songs; the scene provides a wonderful "you are there" quality to the partying and club-hopping side of Swinging London circa 1964. But a film's overall quality, I say, must be judged by its ability to be a complete and satisfying whole, not just as a vehicle to show off the talents and charm of its central figure or figures (otherwise, by that measure, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective would have to be preserved and championed as one of America's greatest contributions to world cinema).

So what am I saying, finally? A Hard Day's Night - if you are a Beatle fan it is essential; see it, enjoy it, revel in their youth and vitality as often and as passionately as you want. Just don't allow your enthusiasm for the group to confuse this with a great film.

(btw: If you wish to experience the group's charm and musical euphoria of this time full on, without the intrusions of a tacked on plot or supplementary characters, check out the wonderful documentary "The Beatles' First U.S. Visit". Done by the Maysles brothers - the duo behind the Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter" later in the decade - the film captures all the excitement [and footage] of the Beatles' triumphant arrival in America, including all their Ed Sullivan appearances, various backstage reflections and shenanigans, and an extended, supercharged sequence of their concert at Washington Coliseum. For my money, this film is even MORE essential than A Hard Day's Night; it is, quite simply, the best extended visual document of the Beatles that we have.)
11 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A Hard Day's Night (1964) ****
JoeKarlosi17 February 2006
The Beatles' first classic movie is a nostalgic time capsule that manages to embody a very special age of innocence from the early 1960's, when four young men from Liverpool England practically took over the world with their marvelous music and charismatic charm and wit. Director Richard Lester is to be commended for successfully capturing all of the excitement and joyful hysteria of these times for historical posterity. For anyone new to The Beatles who's looking to discover what they were all about, A HARD DAY'S NIGHT is the perfect place to start. It showcases the four at the height of their early powers, before the psychedelic experimental period began and the latter breakup took its toll.

Screenwriter Alun Owen spent some time with the Fab Four in late 1963, when a phenomenon christened "Beatlemania" was descending all across Great Britain. He began to get a good idea of their individual personalities and what he wanted to write for a proposed film which would start production sometime in March, 1964. Even more appropriately, the Beatles' world-astounding popularity soared still further in the interim, after they set foot on American soil in February of '64 and became household names. The market was ripe for this film, which it was decided would show the rigors of a typical day in the life of the band at the peak of their stardom.

The resulting motion picture was funny, clever, delightful and of course, musical. John Lennon and Paul McCartney penned several songs for inclusion in the film, all of them winners and two of which easily became #1 hits ("Can't Buy Me Love" as well as the title tune, which was actually made-to-order overnight after producer Walter Shenson asked for a song called "A Hard Day's Night" which could run along with the credits). The film is very British, and the decision to photograph in black and white nicely compliments the aura of England. The Beatles are shown traveling from gig to gig, performing music, doing interviews, trying to outsmart legions of adoring fans, and generally trying to have a good time amidst all the insanity. While the Beatles themselves were not professional actors, they hardly had to be as they were essentially just being themselves, albeit exaggerated caricatures: John the sarcastic and witty one, Paul the professional lady's man, George the quiet cynic, and Ringo the lovable but mistreated clown. Elder British comedian Wilfrid Brambell was also cast as Paul's meddling "very clean old grandfather", and is often humorous to watch, getting involved in all sorts of mischief, though perhaps the necessity of his character being added to the formula would be open to debate.

A HARD DAY'S NIGHT is a special account of a very wonderful, if fleeting, moment from our entertainment history. We are very lucky to have this record of those special days to take us back and enjoy throughout the many different times yet to come.

**** out of ****
9 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Platinum Music on the Silver Screen--and so joyous!!
secondtake30 September 2009
A Hard Day's Night (1964)

I've loved the Beatles for as long as I can remember, and I love this movie because of that. I also really groove to the black and white photography, and Richard Lester's jittery, cutting edge camera style (influenced I suppose by the realistic films of Tony Richardson). The mix of mad cap energy and straight ahead songs is fun, and it goes places Elvis movies never did just for creativity and fun. The Beatles are way more edgy but they come off as not a bit jaded or spoiled, none of the bad-boy rocker stuff that gets old fast. In fact, A Hard Day's Night reminds you just how fresh and light the Beatles were in those first couple of years.

There, that is said. Now for the truth about the movie as a narrative film, which I think it has some vague idea it wants to be (music aside). It bumbles around and plays with old (even then) tricks of picking on the old fashioned Britons in a comic way. I sometimes found myself trying to let one scene lead to the next, and really that's not the idea. The happy zany inter- scenes between songs are just inventive, fun, craziness. That probably enough, but if you've seen the movie a couple times already like I have, or if you don't automatically like the Beatles enough just to watch them for who they are, you will probably find your mind drifting. Not that it's not exciting. It's just aimless excitement.

There, now that is said, too. So back to the start. What a fun, uplifting, non-conformist, sharp movie. Nice to see a genuine sense of humor are work, and a bunch of not-so-clean lads letting 'er rip.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Ladies and gentlemen...The Beatles!!!
george.schmidt3 June 2008
Warning: Spoilers
The Fab Four get their cinematic introduction in a bonkers, inspired lunacy, mixing Marx Brothers madcap farce and bonking the Stiff Upper Lip of British filmdom in this loosely parodic look at the band in their whirliwind salad days of revolutionary barnstorming the UK and driving all the young ladies absolutely wild. Fun, fun, fun and a whole lot more with George, Paul, John & Ringo getting their Ya-Yas out and inspiring the whole music video craze for future generations. An instant classic featuring the band's early hits too many to mention and to be remiss of their magical charm, with cheeky humor and crafty musicianship. Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!!
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
An Enjoyable Little Film From The Beatles
ackstasis10 January 2007
I've never really been a fan of the Beatles. This is not to say that I don't enjoy their music, but I'd simply never been exposed to much of it. However, in the past year, I'd started to listen to many of their songs, and I instantly understood why they were so popular. Back in 1964, the band's growing popularity had spawned numerous best-selling albums, and the next step was a natural one - a Beatles movie. And so 'A Hard Day's Night' was born.

This modest-budgeted 1964 black-and-white film allegedly documents a "typical" day in the life of the Beatles. Whilst I'm aware that much of it was greatly exaggerated and dramatised for its portrayal on screen, I'm fairly certain that one thing has remained fairly accurate - the vast hoards of incessantly screaming teenage female fans who flock around the four performers, either during performances or in public. At the height of Beatlemania, I wouldn't be surprised if such scenes actually occurred on a regular basis.

The four young actors of the band, who I, quite obviously, don't need to name, are not the most talented of actors, but they perform adequately. The screenplay simply calls for them to act as themselves, and this they do quite well. Norman Rossington is good as Norm - the Beatles' manager - and Wilfrid Brambell is hilarious as Paul McCartney's "other grandfather," who has joined the band's travels for a "change of scenery." 'A Hard Day's Life' is an interesting little film, full of moments of joy and laughter and drama - and let us not forget the excellent soundtrack of (you guessed it) Beatles songs! It is not, in any real way, a groundbreaking film, though I've heard that the performance scenes greatly influenced how music videos were filmed at the time.

However, if, like me, you were unfortunate enough to have missed out on the 1960s, and you've been wondering why the Beatles were as big as they were, this is your definitive answer!
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
'God knows what you've unleashed on the unsuspecting South'... and the world
Right from the off, 'A Hard Day's Night' is a classic subversion of early 1960s society - even its pseudo-documentary style cleverly pokes fun at the rise of cinema verité. A fictionalised look at a typical day in the life of the Beatles, poised on the verge of super-stardom, it's a fast-paced, exuberant, carefree tale of four apparent innocent, everyday working-class lads from Liverpool abroad in the big scary capital, complete with one of the finest double acts ever in the form of managers Shake and Norm, and Paul's 'mixer' grandfather, in tow. The film rarely passes without a moment that makes you smile - being chased by screaming girls through the streets, arguing with a fellow train passenger, taking the mick out of the press - 'What do you call that hairstyle?' 'Arthur.' - and dancing around in fields like loons to the strains of 'Can't Buy Me Love'. John's triumphant declaration 'We're out!' embodies the spirit of the movie - and indeed, the entire decade - in two simple words. It's a tribute to celebrating your uniqueness and living life your way, and I utterly defy you not to adore this film. If you've had a bad day, put this on and 84 minutes later you'll be smiling from ear to ear.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Awesome fun for any Beatles fan
Jerry Ables9 October 2002
I greatly enjoyed every minute that I spent watching this dynamic film because it has such excellent, light hearted humor and awesome performances by the Beatles. If you're a fan of the Beatles and you have yet to see this film, then I strongly recommend it to you. I don't think you'll be disappointed in the very least.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
British Comedy at its Best!
consortpinguin22 September 2002
"A Hard Day's Night" is one of the greatest comedies of all time. At the time of its release, the Beatles were the hottest, newest sensation in the world. Even at the tender age of 13, I thought this fad would fade... but I was wrong. They just kept on getting better and better.

I have seen this film four times... at four different times of my life, and I appreciate it more each time.

Naturally I laughed and enjoyed the music when I saw it as a young teen. Then when I was about 17 they actually had it TV and I appreciated it more, being a more seasoned Beatles fan. And as an adult, and a parent, I love this story.

You probably know the story -- a couple of days in the life of the Fab Four on tour, mobbed by fans, living in hotels, travelling on a train. The musical numbers just fit right into the story, just like a Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers classic. I think this movie is great because it was made in the finest tradition of British comedy -- namely, we can all have a laugh at ourselves. I love the scene where George is interviewed by some advertising mogul about what young people like, and gives a rather nasty opinion about a TV show that's supposed to be the hottest teen program.

Having Paul's grandfather was a stroke of genius. What a great character actor he was, always getting into trouble, and trying to get the boys in trouble too. And of course, the scene where Ringo is wandering around aimlessly, slightly hung over! Actually, I read that he says he was pretty hung over at the time.

Hard Day's Night was the best of all the Beatles films. I think "Help" is OK, but lacks the spontanaety of "Hard Day's Night." "Magical Mystery Tour" had a great premise, great music, two interesting videos, but fizzled because the Beatles tried directing it themselves, with no experience. "Let it Be" was interesting to watch, almost as a documentary, and "Yellow Submarine" was actually very good, but you had to suspend all rules of conventional thinking. Many viewers had "a little help from their friends" although I personally don't believe in that stuff.

It just shows that the Beatles really were the very best rock band in history -- there was a magic that only John, Paul, George,and Ringo together could make. Made on a low budget and tight schedule, I have to say the directing, script (ad libs?), singing, and acting were superb. Compare this to pathetic attempts by other bands -- "Spice World" -- Spare me!

"A Hard Day's Night" will still be one of the all-time classic films a century from now, like "Citizen Kane," "The Band Wagon," or "Swing Time." Definitely a TEN!!!
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Two words: A CLASSIC
drdave11 September 1999
A Hard Day's Night gets better every time you watch it. Definitely 10 star material.

It is hard to believe that some IMDB voters gave it lesser ratings. I've found in the past that many people who don't appreciate the film have trouble hearing the dialog. So do your friends a favor and turn on the subtitles the first time through.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
No Matter How Old "A Hard Day's Night" is...
Emily9 July 1999
...it will always be my favourite movie! Being a huge Beatle fan, I LOVED this movie! The music, the comedy, the style and the stars all make it #1 in my book! It's nice to know it's returning to theaters - all my friends, who are my age (14!!) will hopefully understand why I like the Beatles so much.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews