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|Index||99 reviews in total|
A great movie. People here seem to complain the plotline was too silly. But
keep in mind this was during the Bond phase(almost a forerunner to Get
Smart). A sacrificial ring caught on the Famous Ringo's finger. A mad
scientist trying to take over the world. An evil cult trying to kill our
heroes. A girl from that cult secretly helping our heroes. Typical Bondish
It also has great one-liners(Maybe it's that I'm just your average 14 year old American who loves British humor), and just weird ones that sound funny. "I don't subscribe to your religion." "He's out to rule the world if he can get a government grant." "Now, look here, Paul. I've had some great times with this finger. How do you know I wouldn't miss it?"
And, of course, greeeeeaaaaat music.
This is an entertaining movie that serves its sole purpose very well---to
showcase a bunch of terrific Beatles songs. Everyone knows the plot---a
religious cult needs to retrieve a sacrificial ring which Ringo cannot get
off his finger, consequently he has to be sacrificed. The lads go through
various adventures in London, Switzerland and the Bahamas before it is all
It is easy to imagine this movie being an inspiration for Monty Python later on and it isn't surprising to learn that George Harrison in particlar became good friends with Michael Palin and Eric Idle of Python fame. Now imagine what a combined Beatles-Python movie would've been like!
One scene in "Help!" which I particularly remember is the Leo Mckern, the cult leader, dressed in his sari, drinking tea and collegially discussing his religious beliefs with an Anglican priest. Of the Beatles, John and Ringo have most of the funny lines and the movie exaggerates the idea of George being tight with his money---playing poker with Ringo at Buckingham Palace, pilfering rings from a jeweler, pretending he can't find his wallet thus forcing Ringo to pick up the tab at a pub. The caricature personas the Beatles adopted for this movie in particular became the way many fans viewed them which I think George found to be alternately ironic and irritating since he insisted he was nothing like the movie version of himself.
Okay, so "Help!" isn't quite as creative as "A Hard Day's Night", but
the Beatles always were able to do something good. In this case, Ringo
happens to have a sacrificial ring belonging to a religious cult. So,
the cult sets about trying to get it back. When they fail, they decide
to sacrifice Ringo. Meanwhile, a scientist (Victor Spinetti) wants the
ring for his own purposes. And of course, there's plenty of great music
along the way.
In a way, the whole movie is sort of an excuse to be wacky. Whether it's the seemingly separate apartments that turn out to be one big room, the trap door activated by a glass, the skiing tournament, or the whole Bahamas sequence, they've got something neat every step of the way. Leo McKern, as cult leader Clang, and Eleanor Bron, as cultist Ahme who tries to protect Ringo, provide cool supporting roles.
I guess that if I ever get a woman to watch "Help!" with me, I'll never "Lose That Girl".
...What kind of movie, you might ask? Comedy? Spy Thriller? Or
It doesn't matter.
I've seen it many times over the past 30 years and it just gets better
age. The music of course, is phenomenal-and you don't have to be a
Beatles fan to appreciate this musical comedy masterpiece.
Rating: ***** out of *****
"Help" is a nice companion movie to "A Hard Days Night". It is filmed in color, and while it doesn't have the classic look of black and white "Hard Days Night", the script is better, and the Beatles appear more relaxed acting. The music is very good. Ringo, often in the background during in concerts and on recordings, proves he is the best actor of the Fab Four. Paul, John and George come across the screen as genuine and charismatic. "Help!" is filmed in different locations as well, which add to the film's quality. To me, the Beatles are the greatest rock group in history. Before there was MTV, there was "A Hard Days Night" and "Help!". Nothing in music can top that.
God Bless the Beatles. They're one of the few musical groups that still
remain as fresh and entertaining even today. And that applies to their
films as well. "Help!" is a lot of fun. Take the fab four with a goofy
plot of Ringo being the target of religious sacrificial cult, add a handful
of great songs, and that's the movie. The one-liners in this film are still
very funny, with plenty of "groaners" and the typical quick British wit.
Really nice camera work, great sets (the Beatles' apartment showcases clever
diversity for each member's personality) and just wild sub-plots throughout
the film. (Paul's tiny adventure and the tank chase comes to mind.) As I
said before, the film's main asset is the music, and one can't help but find
themselves caught up in the songs.
The strangest thing in the film is when it abruptly veers away from the cult chase to numerous songs and the Beatles just playing around. Even with a few more attempts on poor Ringo's finger, it seems like everyone takes a break from the chase. It really doesn't matter, however. The Beatles seem to be having a good time, and you can't help but join in.
"Help!" is a great showcase of Beatles music, fun writing and clever visuals. While not as great as "A Hard Day's Night", those who enjoyed that movie will be hard-pressed to find anything wrong here.
Because my mother is a huge Beatles fan, I saw this movie a lot when I
was a kid. It may look weak in comparison to "A Hard Day's Night,"
widely regarded as the "Citizen Kane" of rock musicals. But it's an
easier film for a kid to relate to. Instead of a realistic, ironic
mockumentary about the lives of rock stars, it's a harmless escapist
fantasy that has precious little to do with the real Beatles. These are
the Beatles of myth, the four asexual men who all live in the same
house, which is supposed to pass for an automated futuristic type of
home, at least to audiences in the 1960s. I suppose that as a kid I got
a kick out of the idea of having a vending machine in one's own home.
Somehow, I never asked myself what the advantage of that would be, and
the film never does, either.
Looking back on the film as an adult, I have a hard time determining what it is I liked about it. Certainly, I can't remember laughing at any of the jokes. In fact, I was vaguely aware that most of the jokes fall flat. (In contrast, the Monkees' TV show, modeled heavily on this movie, was often quite funny.) The superintendent who does a bad Cagney imitation and inexplicably begins every sentence with the words "So this is the famous...." left me staring at the screen blankly. This is quintessential British humor, revolving heavily around people's nonchalant reactions to bizarre events. It's a brand of humor that has great potential to be funny; here, it's just strange, probably because none of the ideas are all that inspired. The idea of a tiger who likes Beethoven might have sounded good on paper, I suppose, but it doesn't come together on screen. I suppose it could have been used as the setup for a funnier joke; instead, it's used as the punchline. At least I was able to "get" that joke when I was a kid. Many of the other jokes involve references that went over my head, such as the line "It's the brain drain: his brain's draining." Those sophisticated enough to know what the brain drain is are likely to be too old to appreciate such a pedestrian pun.
The Beatles themselves do not emerge in this film as talented comic actors, to put it mildly. Their line readings are wooden, their comic timing is off, and their apparent attempts at improvisation are pathetic, as in their continual "ho ho ho"ing throughout the film. The Beatles were supposed to have been very funny on stage and in interviews, but none of that ability translates to the screen. It may not have been their fault. The characters they play are given no identifiable traits, and as a result they come off as interchangeable, except for Ringo because of his role in the plot. Instead of giving them distinct comic personas to play, the film turns them into straight-men who are the victims of a zany, insane world that's conspiring against them. This is presumably what led the real Beatles to complain that the film reduced them to "extras in (their) own movie."
So why do I have so much affection for the film? Probably because I was just sort of enchanted by the events. The movie has a lot of the types of scenes that delight kids, like the aforementioned automated house, as well as a ton of weird gadgets. The various methods in which the Beatles attempt to remove the dreaded ring from Ringo's finger is the best aspect of the film, plot-wise. It may not make me laugh, but there still is a certain pleasure in watching these scenes. Besides, I've always liked movies about Thuggees. Along with "Gunga Din," "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," and a somewhat darker film from 1988, "The Deceivers," "Help!" convinced me that Thuggees were a real group existing in modern times. How disappointed I was when I grew up and eventually learned that the actual cult was destroyed by British forces in the early nineteenth century. "Temple of Doom" at least alludes to that fact, and bases its plot on the premise that the cult has secretly survived. "Help!" never explains how Thuggees could be around in the twentieth century; you just have to accept it.
But the most obvious reason why I still like this film is the wonderful music. It actually has a better soundtrack, in my opinion, than "A Hard Day's Night." Among the songs that "Help!" popularized are not just the hits like "You're Gonna Lose That Girl," "Ticket to Ride," "You've Got to Hide Your Love," and the title song, but also lesser known tracks like "The Night Before" and "Another Girl." The earlier film appropriately focused on their dance music. The songs from this film have a greater focus on harmony and musical virtuosity.
Help is one of those fast paced knockabout films of the 60s, when
comedies didn't have to make sense; they just had to be whacky,
colourful, fast and fun. This film is certainly all of the above.
Dick Lester had a great command of what was going on culturally at the time and his command really shows through in his frenetic directing style. He is definitely a pioneer, and this is a landmark film. You can see the influence of this movie coming out in the colour episodes of I Dream of Jeannie, the Monkees, and 60s cult favourites such as Arabesque.
The film is generally fun and enjoyable, but it is a 60s period piece, so it may not be for all. Film buffs and film school students will definitely get something out of it, but 60s buffs and especially Beatles fans will love it. Not a bad film by any means, but you have to be in the mood.
Of all the various Beatles transformations out there, I have to admit
that I liked them best from late 1964 to mid-1966. During this era,
they morphed from the "innocent" fab four into the pre-mystical Beatles
that came about in late 1965 with the advent of their wonderful "Rubber
Yes, I loved these guys from this era of time. If you're old enough to have experienced the British Invasion, then you can show an appreciation of how the music once was: short and sweet. To put it simply, most pop music that came out of this era was short (around 2 minutes and 30 seconds) and sweet enough to reveal a new type of rock n' roll that never existed before the advent of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, Chad and Jeremy, the Dave Clark 5, etc, etc, etc.
It's too bad that this era didn't last long enough for us to enjoy. Before you knew it, it was gone like a morning mist. Even the American versions of garage rock, like Gary Lewis & the Playboys and the Turtles disappeared as discontent with the establishment and Vietnam sapped all of the collective innocence out of us.
It was an era of music that was, in essence, non-political; Beatles music, as well as other bands, were geared toward boy-girl love relationships and that was all. Barry McGuire then blew us out of the water with his "Eve of Destruction" around September, 1965. This, of course, caught the Beatles by surprise and they quickly changed their music from the typical "love songs" and became more creative in their talents by releasing "Day Tripper" with "We Can Work It Out" as a flip side.
"Help!" is a remnant of the final days of "innocence", when Vietnam was just entering the nightly news night after night after night and when the domestic disturbances on college campuses and ghettos was coming to a head.
This is what "Help!" represents to those who study this era. It was still a time when we could still help to avoid the problems that were beginning to plague American culture, society and politics. It still showed the Beatles as innocent and fun-loving mop tops that many people still prefer over their re-emergence as mystical, drug-experimenting replacements two years hence. I know that I still prefer them as innocent mop tops, but reality has shown that they were far from innocent even during their early days in Hamburg.
All that aside, this is still my favorite era of Beatledom.
The Beatles' second film had a hard act to follow in the wake of the
ground-breaking "Meet the Beatles" documentary-style "A Hard day's
Night". Director Richard Lester opted for a plotted spy-caper spoof in
glowing colour and if he sometimes piles on too many gags and the boys,
if one was being honest, are out-acted by the surrounding talent, this
is still an entertaining romp, accompanied by some sublime music as the
Fab Four really start to hit their creative stride in their vibrant
Hanging on to the coat-tails of another of Britain's big entertainment success stories of the 60's, the James Bond movies (the "007" theme even gets an airing at one point), the episodic plot serves its purpose in taking the boys to far-flung exotic locations in which to clown and sing. There are as many good comedic devices as bad, but the best of them pre-date some of the anarchic humour of Monty Python and some of the group interplay echoes, if distantly, the drollery of the Marx Brothers.
The film therefore moves at a fast tilt from the off, with the songs reasonably well spaced out. Lennon emerges with the main plaudits with the classics "Help!", "Ticket to Ride" and the mature Dylan-influenced "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away". McCartney and Harrison contribute quality high-gloss pop of only slightly lesser standard and all these songs are given entertaining promo-video backings which work well independent of the surrounding whole.
The four can hardly be said to be stretched in the acting stakes and more than in "A Hard Day's Night" seem a bit less individualistic here. Their repartee is shared around so that no one really takes precedence which might of course have been the aim. There's strong support in the mainly British cast, with Leo McKern doing a good comedic turn as the chief "thuggee" and Eleanor Bron quietly effervescent, often riffing off Paul.
The film does drag a little even over its short playing time as it draws to its end, this viewer feeling a little worn down with all the sight gags, changes of perspective and general pop-art enthusiasm of director Lester. That said, it can be seen to encapsulate the swinging times of its genesis, so that in summing up, you know you should be glad (ouch!).
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