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Help! More at IMDbPro »

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

"I am not what I seem!"

Author: ShadeGrenade from Ambrosia
28 October 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Released in 1964, 'A Hard Day's Night' was a movie classic. 'Help', which came out a year later, had the potential to be better still; a bigger budget, colour, exotic locations, top-notch British character actors of the calibre of Leo McKern, Patrick Cargill, Victor Spinetti and Roy Kinnear. Yet despite all these plus factors, it turned out to be a major disappointment.

Having wisely retained the services of director Richard Lester, producer Walter Shenson inexplicably failed to hold onto writer Alun Owen. Marc Behm and Charles Wood's script for 'Help!' is, frankly, dreadful. The plot - such as it is - concerns a mystic Eastern sect who pursue the Fab Four all over the world in an effort to recover a sacred ring, which has somehow gotten stuck on Ringo's finger. For sheer inanity, it gives the worst of Elvis Presley's celluloid efforts a run for their money. Much of the Goonish humour seems forced, and the cast constantly winking at the audience grows wearing. Sadly missed are Norman Rossington, John Junkin and Wilfred Brambell from the first film.

John Lennon later likened 'Help!' to the 'Batman' television series. I think it has more in common with 'The Monkees'. Arch plots such as this were routine in that show.

The decision to turn 'Help!' into a larger-than-life action comedy is the main reason for its artistic failure. The pseudo-documentary look of 'Night' suited The Beatles down to the ground; all they had to do was be themselves. Here they are required to react to bizarre happenings, and aren't able to convince themselves, let alone the audience. Their frequent cries of 'ho ho ho' leads one to believe they were so high on pot they forgot they were making a film. Lennon's comment about how they 'became extras in their own film' is accurate. With McKern, Cargill and Spinetti hamming it up outrageously, and Eleanor Bron looking stunningly sexy in Julie Harris' costumes, how could it have been otherwise?

The best gags in 'Help!' are visual, such as The Beatles simultaneously entering four houses and being reunited in a single room, and Patrick Cargill getting out of a small plane to be greeted by a massive flight of steps. But the overall impression is one of complacency on the part of the production team. They knew that the film was likely to make a mint, so were not too concerned with minor details such as a script.

'Help!' only comes to life when The Beatles perform; the 'Ticket To Ride' sequence in the Austrian Alps is stunning ( love the notes on the telegraph lines ), as is the 'Another Girl' section in the Bahamas. My favourite, though, is 'You've Got To Hide Your Love Away'. Marvellous photography throughout. Its no wonder that Lester later became regarded as the 'father' of M.T.V.

An underrated aspect of 'Help!' is the incidental music. Ken Thorne caught the Bond-like atmosphere to a tee, and even includes a clever homage to Monty Norman's 'James Bond Theme' at one point.

'Help!' is a relic from the time when The Beatles were conquering the world. Its worth watching for the music, but it could and should have been so much better.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Great fun, great music - what's not to like?

Author: Neil Welch from United Kingdom
4 October 2007

Help! has had a bad press, dating back to the 60s - when John Lennon criticises his own work, people listen.

But John wasn't really being fair. His disappointment (and similar comments from the others) reflect that, in this film, the Beatles were playing characters rather than, as in A Hard Day's Night, imitations of themselves.

Personally, I don't see the difference. Unless the cameras are fly-on-the-wall filming you in real life, then you're playing a character - that's what a fiction film is all about! And the Beatles played characters based on themselves in both A Hard Day's Night and Help!, it's just that the former film was staged in a more cine-verite manner.

Help!, on the other hand, is pure escapist nonsense. It's colourful, it has an actual plot (wildly improbable as it might be), the four Beatles discharge their responsibilities adequately, there are some lovely little throwaway bits of humour (check out Paul, Eleanor Bron, George, and the winking), and above everything, the music is great.

Just take it as an opportunity to go back to the summer of 1965 and relish the Beatles providing fun at the height of their popularity!

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

humour and music and a more focused but fictional script

Author: rebeljenn from Bath, England
30 December 2005

'Help!' is the second Beatles' movie, produced after 'A Hard Day's Night'. Unlike 'A Hard Day's Night', 'Help!' takes more of a story approach and is less of a documentary about the lives of the band. Ringo is the star of the show, and this was probably down to his excellent performance in 'A Hard Day's Night'. The film is about a cult who is after Ringo as a human sacrifice because of a ring that he is wearing. Along the way, they meet different characters and different locations in a James Bond style theme. Like 'A Hard Day's Night', the film contains the wacky humour , some good photography, and music clips. The photography is not as stunning as some of the scenes in 'A Hard Day's Night', however. The playing field scene in 'A Hard Day's Night' is a difficult one to beat anyway.

I slightly prefer this film to 'A Hard Day's Night' for the story value, and it is much more engaging with less slow-moving, seemingly-unscripted parts. Overall, it is much more focused. Whereas the former is more for Beatles and music enthusiasts, 'Help!' is made for a wider audience who can still enjoy the Beatles music but who can also enjoy the story. And, if you enjoy this film, check out the Monkees television series too.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

The Giggly Cinema (spoilers)

Author: Pepper Anne from Orlando, Florida
3 August 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Help! is one of my favorite Beatles movie, because it is the Beatles doing stupid comedy, though they tend to be subtle about it in dialogue and character (just being the Beatles) while everything going on around them is completely nutty.

Help! is the story of a series of strange people, one is some kind of Indian cult and the other a pair of disgruntled British scientists, who pursue Ringo for his large jeweled ring. The cult believes it to be necessary for their ceremonies, while the scientists, marveled at the industructable jewelry, imagine themselves quite powerful if they were to own it (kind of like a Beatles version of the Hobbit). Everyone scrambles around in slapstick format like it was Blake Edwards 'The Great Race.' It is so comical and so simple, kids might enjoy the strange atmosphere and slapstick nature of this movie. I particularly like the little joke about the 'Royal Fuse' going out at the substation or when George tells Ringo that he should let them cut off his finger, because he'll get good money from the insurance, and probably more because he's a Beatle.

It doesn't matter that the Beatles couldn't act. They didn't stick them in movies expecting to make cinematic masterpieces. They were just vehicles for their music (between scenes, you have your standard mini-videos featuring the famous 'Ticket to Ride' and title song 'Help!), and of course, the Beatles popularity. Their stiffboard expressions actually seem much funnier when compared with these insane people running around after them. Ringo, in particular, as he seems more like the youngest of the bunch, and perhaps, the most naive. I love how everyone disbelieves that anyone is trying to sabatoge him in the beginning, when the cult tries several clandestine and unsuccessful methods of stealing Ringo's ring.

The movie does go on a bit too long, as most Beatles movies tend to do. After that George Harrison song 'I Need You' plays during their pseudo-war scenes, the remainder of the film tends to get dragged out a little too far. It would've been better to end it somewhere not far (minutes) once that song passes.

It isn't the best of the Beatles movies (Magical Mystery Tour is in my opinion the worst) probably because it lacks the visual beauty and psychadellia that Yellow Submarine had. But, I still thought it was an entertaining little movie. I always have.

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Still a cool movie

Author: ebiros2 from United States
20 October 2005

While The Hard Days Night was like a documentary of the life of the Beatles, this movie is more like fictitious life of the Beatles. The reality is substituted with comedy, and although it's great to watch the Beatles in living color, this one isn't as good as their first attempt. The music is still great, but the Beatles are just reduced to ordinary people (if that's ever possible) in this movie. It was better if they portrayed more of their musicianship and told the story as they are it would have been even sweeter. Beatles were part of the '60s (heck, they invented the '60s) and '60s atmosphere is abundant in this movie. It really was a happier time, which makes me wonder why are we not as happy now after 40 years of development ?

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Disjointed, but fun film

Author: asdodge from United States
7 January 2009

"Help" is a disjointed film starring the greatest rock band to ever record- The Beatles. This was their follow-up to their amazing "A Hard Day's Night," a classic that rates as the greatest rock-band movie ever made.

"Help" pales in comparison to its predecessor and often is criticized deeply for this failure.

In the story, Ringo comes into possession of a holy ring that is the honorarium worn by the intended sacrificee of a sect of Khaili worshipers (Khaili is the Hindu god of death and destruction). The sect goes through stages of trying to get the ring back, to then decreeing that Ringo himself must be sacrificed. The 4 band members are assisted by a member of the sect who isn't into the whole sacrifice ideology. The sect's attempts to get at Ringo grow more and more creative and insane, and the Beatles are forced to constantly flee from England to Austria to the Bahamas under the protection of Scotland Yard and The British Army. Mixed in is a mad scientist (Victor Spinetti) who wants the ring for his own mad devices.

The movie is a typical early-mid 60's farce, much in the genre of Peter Sellers (no surprise as director Richard Lester directed many of Sellers' movies). The problem, story-wise, is that at times it tries to be a James Bond spoof, at other times it tries to be a spoof of "If It's Tuesday, This Must be Belgium" and other zany comedies. The movie could not decide which kind of a farce it was to be, and loses the battle when compared to the cohesive, Liverpudlian comedy of "A Hard Day's Night." Lastly, the movie is filmed during the height of Beatlemania, when the lads were already tiring of all the pressures and lack of freedom and time. In some cases, you can see they just shot the scenes as a lark and didn't care whether it was perfect or not. Off screen, the Beatles themselves say they were not into the movie (they wanted to do a serious movie, perhaps a Western), and were getting into pot-smoking and were kind of stoned through filming. In spite of all this, the film is actually quite clever and enjoyable and fits in with many of the sillier comic chase films of that era. If one remembers this movie was meant to be "silly" and not "funny" and remembers it is a farce, not a creative work of inspired genius, it is very enjoyable and fun to watch, even after 40+ years.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

We've Got Our Ticket To Ride

Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
22 November 2008

After the success of the low budget A Hard Day's Night with its classic soundtrack that after over 40 years is still a best selling item, the more expensive Help was made for the Beatles. The Fab Four even got to do a little location shooting in the Bahamas and in Salzburg, Austria for the skiing sequence.

Ringo Starr so named for his well known passion for rings has got himself quite the ruby bauble. It's been noticed by some Eastern cult headed by Leo McKern and these guys ain't kidding about what it takes to get it. The one who wears the ring has to be a human sacrifice.

So when all kinds of strange people start going after our page boy teen idols, it's one merry anarchistic chase all over the United Kingdom and other parts of the globe.

Leo McKern and such other British character actors like Alfie Bass, Victor Spinetti, and Patrick Cargill get it on the fun. Eleanor Bron plays a fifth columnist in McKern's camp looks to help the Beatles because she's one of several million fans they have across the globe and she really does like the drummer with the honker.

Like it's predecessor Help's soundtrack is still selling in the gazillions because it has several John Lennon-Paul McCartney songs still popular like A Ticket To Ride, You're Gonna Lose That Girl, You've Got To Hide Your Love Away and the title song.

Also like it's predecessor it paved the way for the venue of the music video which today's musical artist seem to prefer more than records on which you can hear them. It boggles the mind when you think of who could have been captured performing if that technology had been available for more than 100 years more.

So if your ticket to ride is punched, relax and enjoy.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Stuck in the Shadow of "Night" a classic in it's own right

Author: rufasff from Los Angeles Ca
5 April 2004

This film, suck in the shadow of the criticaly lauded (rightfully so) "A Hard Day's Night", is arguably just as good and maybe more important. Richard Lester's

stuck deep in Buster Keaton mode (the Beatles Digs seem an homage to "the

Electric House") and he never made his modernized version of Buster work

better. Though it lacks "Hard Day's Nights" quicksilver verbal wit; there are

excellent visual jokes to pick up the slack, and the Beatles acting, FAR from being bad, hits just the right tone of throwaway sillyness. The supporting cast are perfect. Of the seven Beatles songs, I would say three( "Help" "The NIght Before" and "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away") are A plus Beatles, setting the bar very high indeed. This style of comedy, as I suggested, had one foot in silent comedy and one in hip detachment; and if that works for you, "Help!" should prove timeless.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Outdo A Hard Day's Night?!? Why?

Author: avt from Dover, Ohio, USA
13 November 1999

With all due respect to the doctor, the Beatles clearly had no intention of "outdo(ing) 'A Hard Day's Night.'" A little historical perspective will show that, unlike many entertainers of the day, the Beatles were obviously not too concerned with `selling out' or cashing in on a proven formula nor were they obsessed with the quality of the finished product necessarily. Lennon was later quoted as saying that the `best bits were left on the cutting room floor To suggest, however, that the Beatles were trying to `outdo A Hard Day's Night' is just unadulterated ignorance. One has to take into account that, in the sixties (especially in the Beatles' entourage), artistic integrity stood for something. Selling out was frowned upon and just wasn't what the Beatles did.

The restored film by The Four Media Company is worth searching out, as it contains the original version of the title song, `Help!,' which differs distinctly from the album, more well-known, version of the song. This version was originally released with the movie and the single, and was later eliminated from the album soundtrack in favor of a more polished version. In my own humble opinion, the version of the song `Help!' that originally appeared in the film release seems to represent more of how Lennon had intended the song. He's on record as stating that he always wanted to redo the song. It's not as upbeat as the album version, but it seems silly now to sing this song upbeat, given the subject matter.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Beatles Classic

Author: Todd Rose from Waverly, Ohio
14 November 1998

Although not as critically acclaimed as The Beatles' previous movie "A Hard Day's Night", "Help!" is equally as entertaining. In my opinion, the plot is much more interesting because it takes The Beatles to different locations around the world instead of just movie sets and hotel rooms. The first movie was to show how The Beatles lived everyday life and "Help!" was a fresh departure from this. I believe that this film is much more fun because John, Paul, George, and Ringo are having fun and so will you.

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