Before the film was released in America, a United Artists executive asked director Richard Lester to dub the voices of the group with mid-Atlantic accents. Paul McCartney angrily replied, "Look, if we can understand a fucking cowboy talking Texan, they can understand us talking Liverpool."
George Harrison stumbles and falls during the opening sequence of the group running down a street towards the camera. This wasn't intended and he ripped the suit he was wearing, but as he quickly recovered, laughed and continued running, it was decided to retain the shot in the film.
United Artists executives didn't really care about the film itself, they were mainly interested in exploiting a legal loophole which would allow them to distribute the lucrative soundtrack album. In fact, they fully expected to lose money on the film. With a final cost of about $500,000 and a box office take of about $8,000,000 in the first week, "A Hard Day's Night" is among the most profitable (percentage-wise) films of all time.
After filming for the day on April 1st 1964, John Lennon had met his father, Alfred Lennon, for the first time in 17 years. In the morning Alf had walked into NEMS Enterprises (where The Beatles' manager Brian Epstein worked) accompanied by a journalist. After explaining to the receptionist that he was John's father, and when Epstein was informed he immediately sent for a car to pick up John, the rest of The Beatles with the exception of Paul McCartney tagging along, bringing them over to NEMS. The meeting was unsuccessful, however; the first words John said to his father were, "What do you want?" The meeting lasted no longer than 20 minutes, and ended up with a furious John ordering Alf off the premises. The encounter was kept out of newspapers by trading with the journalist for exclusive stories about the other bands Epstein managed.
Ringo Starr was praised for his solo scene at the riverside as a forlorn soul. However, his expression in that scene was actually the result of being severely hung over after a previous night of heavy drinking.
The film's title track was written entirely in one sitting by John Lennon on the night of April 13th, 1964, which was also the same day he had filmed the iconic bathtub scene. After Ringo Starr had coined the phrase, John and Paul McCartney had basically raced to see who would come up with a song for the phrase and movie title first.
In the scene where The Beatles are running and playing in the field, John Lennon was not there. He was away promoting his new book "John Lennon: In His Own Write." A body double filled in for John, and close-up shots of him were edited into the scene later. A copy of the book can be seen on a mantelpiece in the background of a shot of Norm, Shake and Paul's (very clean) grandfather.
Screenwriter Alun Owen claimed that the word "grotty" was a word used in Liverpool to mean "grotesque", but The Beatles never heard it before and believed Owen made it up. It subsequently passed into general usage and linguists certainly cite The Beatles as the popularizers of the word in the early 1960s and trace its origins to Liverpool.
The resulting album of the same name is the only one The Beatles released with every song written and composed exclusively by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. It was also the first Beatles album not to contain any covers of other artists' songs (e.g. "Roll Over Beethoven", "Twist and Shout").
Writer Alun Owen put together the plot of the movie while following The Beatles around on their tour of France before they went to America. From observing them, he created their "stereotypes": John Lennon is a smart-ass, Paul McCartney is "cute" and sensible, George Harrison is quiet and shy and Ringo Starr is dim-witted and sad. He also picked up their manners of speech, and their daily routines, with which he created the plot. Despite the comic elements, it really was a "day-in-the-life" look at The Beatles.
When Ringo Starr turns on the transistor radio on the train, there is a short bit of a rock and roll song, which had been recorded by a group of London session musicians. The drummer on the song, Clem Cattini, claims that Jimmy Page played guitar on it.
Ringo Starr's answering a reporter's question "Are you a mod, or a rocker?" with "I'm a mocker" was voted as the #58 of "The 100 Greatest Movie Lines" by Premiere in 2007. Ringo originally coined the quip during an appearance on Ready, Steady, Go! (1963).
The tire that Ringo Starr trips over in the scene at the river bank had to be thrown again and again, as it kept rolling incorrectly. Finally, after numerous wasted takes, it was offered to young actor David Janson, on hand to play the young boy Ringo meets. Janson rolled the tire correctly on the first try.
According to Norman Rossington, in the scene where John Lennon takes the scissors and cuts the tailor's tape and says "I now declare this bridge open", John improvised other versions where instead of "bridge" he would say "synagogue", "fish-and-chips stand", etc. The tailor in the scene is actually The Beatles' real tailor.
In the first ten seconds of the film, as the group of kids chase John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr down the street, George stumbles, which causes Ringo to stumble. John looks back and hesitates for a moment before continuing to run. The lead pursuer--a tall blonde in a three-piece suit and a mac who had been running close to the wall--moves to the center of the sidewalk, throws both arms straight out to block the kids behind him, and yells "stop!" The other kids stopped just long enough for George and Ringo to regain their footing and start running again.
The whole of the original first day's shooting (the train sequence) was lost because the clapper-loader was mistaken by fans at the station for one of The Beatles. In running away from the screaming fans, he dropped the cans of negative.
Paul McCartney's grandfather tells a policeman that he is "a soldier of the Republic". This is a reference to the IRA and shows the links to Irish immigration to Liverpool. He quotes from the song, "A Nation Once Again" written in the 1840s by Thomas Osborne Davis (1814-45), one of the founders of the Irish independence movement.
United Artists was pressuring the producers to finally come up with a title for the film. When John Lennon told producer Walter Shenson about Ringo Starr's malapropisms, Shenson thought that Ringo's phrase "a hard day's night"--referring to his resting up after an exhausting day--might make a good title. John agreed. Shenson called United Artists with the proposed title, which was coolly received. Shenson suggested that they ask the secretaries and other young employees, who might be fans of The Beatles, what they thought of the proposed title. The suggestion worked and the title was accepted.
Ringo Starr is invited to "Le Cercle" gambling club, the same club where James Bond makes his first appearance in Dr. No (1962). Coincidentally, both "A Hard Day's Night" and "Dr. No" were originally released by United Artists.
The question "Are you a mod or a rocker?" is a reference to two mid-1960s British youth subcultures that caused a moral panic by having violent clashes at the time the movie was being produced. The rockers rode motorcycles, wore black leather and preferred rock-and-roll. The mods rode scooters, wore suits and preferred jazzier music like ska. Since The Beatles' early music was a fusion of rock-and-roll and ska, it was only natural that Ringo Starr's reply--"I'm a mocker"--represents a fusion of the two groups' names.
The movie's premiere in England took place on the seventh anniversary of John Lennon and Paul McCartney meeting for the first time after a performance by John's first band, The Quarrymen, at the annual Garden Fete.
While Paul McCartney is singing "And I Love Her," the camera panning around him picks up an arc light that flashes straight into the lens. United Artists executives, reviewing the dailies and certain the shot had to be a mistake, asked producer Walter Shenson if he was aware of it; Shenson replied it had taken them all morning to get it like that.
Kenneth Haigh, who has the brief but showy role of Simon Marshall--the amusingly neurotic television executive who tries to get George Harrison to promote his sponsor's "grotty" shirts--was already a distinguished stage actor. He had originated the role of the first "angry young man," Jimmy Porter, in the historic first stage performance (1956) of "Look Back in Anger" by John Osborne, and at the time of filming he was appearing onstage as Caligula. He performed in the film because of his friendship with the movie's screenwriter, Alun Owen, but declined screen credit, fearing that his reputation as an actor would suffer by his association with a "teen idol" movie.
It was reported in contemporary press cuttings that 15 minutes was later cut from the film, including scenes involving a London double-decker bus. The Beatles autographed the ceiling of this bus, which was by that time privately owned by Tim Lewis of Twickenham. In 1987 David Thrower purchased the bus, in a dilapidated condition, from Wicksteed Park, Kettering, and it is now fully restored to the condition it was in when used in the film--though the signatures of The Beatles on the ceiling are long gone, unfortunately.
Both John Lennon's and Paul McCartney's mothers were mentioned in the film, the implication being that they were still alive. Paul's mother, Mary Mohin McCartney, had died when he was 14 and John's mother, Julia Lennon, passed away when he was 17.
The song accompanying the boys' romp in the field was originally "I'll Cry Instead". It was changed to the previously-released track "Can't Buy Me Love" when director Richard Lester felt the first song didn't fit the mood properly.
The word "Beatles" is never mentioned in dialogue. However, "The Beatles" is clearly visible on Ringo Starr's bass drumhead and on the helicopter in the final scene. Also, the background during the final concert "The Beatles" is in lights.
The camera's 360-degree pan around Paul McCartney during his performance of "And I Love Her" was achieved by dangling the camera from strings marionette-style and moving it in a circle around McCartney.
United Artists wanted to produce the film because The Beatles' US contract with Capitol Records did not include a provision covering film scores. As a result, the original soundtrack for "A Hard Day's Night" was released on United Artists Records. The UA version was more of a soundtrack than the comparable album released in the UK, which was actually a new 13-track Beatles album; the UA album had only eight songs performed by The Beatles, plus four tracks from the score (easy-listening orchestral versions of Beatles tunes, arranged by George Martin). All of The Beatles songs on the UA album were also released on Capitol as well, on either the "Something New" album or as 45-rpm singles. Nevertheless, the UA strategy worked, as its album went straight to #1. A few years later UA decided to exit the record business, and sold its catalog to Capitol--which promptly reissued the "missing" album on its own label.
When Paul McCartney's grandfather is trying to fake The Beatles' autographs he is sitting on a tail lift and is moved into an operetta rehearsal. The play that is rehearsed in the scene is "Die Fledermaus" by Johann Strauss.
The song "I'll Cry Instead" was written for the film, but later removed. It still appeared on the soundtrack album, and the US single had "From the United Artists Picture, 'A Hard Day's Night'" on the label. In 1982 the movie was re-released with an opening prologue that used "I'll Cry Instead" accompanied by an animated collage of photos of The Beatles (similar to, but more complex than, the photos that play under the end credits). Richard Lester was reportedly furious over the prologue sequence, and publicly stated that it was added without his involvement. All home video releases of the film in the 1980s and 1990s include the prologue, including the first DVD release in 1997. In 2000 the film was remastered and re-released on DVD without the prologue, and all editions since then have omitted it.
When they run in the police station the second time and John nods at George to run out again, watch carefully. It happens very quick but you can just make out John going out the door first. He then reappears from the right to run out after the police. He must have run round the set and as the camera remained on that scene, someone must have known he was going to do it.
Each of The Beatles, with the exception of Paul, are addressed by their whole names once in the movie. George's name is told when the group is on the train, when John says "George Harrison, a scouse of distinction" (a scouse being a native of Liverpool). Ringo's name is mentioned on his casino invitation, though it's his actual real full name, Richard Starkey, that is said. John's name is said at the end of the movie, when Norm says, "I have one thing to say to you, John Lennon".
Another James Bond connection is the song, "This Boy" (a.k.a. "Ringo's Theme"), an instrumental version of which was used in the film to accompany Ringo Starr's solo scene. The guitarist was Vic Flick, who previously played on "The James Bond Theme" from Dr. No (1962).
Two scenes were filmed but never used. A sequence where The Beatles are stuck in a traffic jam along with their chauffeur (Frank Thornton) and a solo scene where Paul McCartney meets a Shakespearean actress (Isla Blair) rehearsing in her dressing room.
In the movie, there are four swine-related jokes (five if you count Norm's remark near the end of the movie to John Lennon, "You're a swine.": 1) When Norm scolds John because he is not listening to him, John remarks, "You're a swine. Ain't he, George?". 2) When The Beatles complain about having to answer all the fan mail, John tells Norm, "You couldn't get a pen in your foot, you swine!". 3) In the lads' dressing room, John tells Norm, "Got a touch of the swine fever, haven't you?". 4) When Paul McCartney and John are about to leave the theater after performing "I'm Happy Just To Dance With You", John snorts like a pig to Norm before leaving (implicitly saying, yet again, "You're a swine.").
Besides grandfather's gambling at "Le Cercle Club," there are other James Bond connections: Richard Vernon (the grumpy old man on the train) plays Smithers--the man who lectures Bond on gold in Goldfinger (1964)--and Margaret Nolan (girl at "Le Cercle Club") also appeared in that film, as "Dink", the girl at the hotel swimming pool.
Just before he goes out "parading", Ringo Starr turns towards an actor in the commissary dressed as a German soldier and gives a short Nazi salute with his left arm (about 58:45). Earlier in the same scene the action cuts away from Paul's grandfather and Ringo to a "sight gag" of a German-uniformed actor putting ketchup on his meal and then applying ketchup to his bandaged arm, for a "bloody wound" effect.
The German title of the movie is "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah", which refers to The Beatles' song "She Loves You", also featured in this movie. Also the German dialog differs partly from the original plot. For example, The Beatles refer in this synchronization the book "Die Blechtrommel" by Günter Grass, mention several German songs, think about going into the German movie business and in the dressing room scene they are quoting so-called "Wirtinnenverse", little German joke poems, which are sometimes a little obscene. In the Ringo Starr scene near the river the boy tells Ringo about his love for his teacher and about his business ideas. Also, unlike in the original, the name "Beatles" is mentioned several times.
Since The Beatles are credited in the opening set of credits, but are not in the more comprehensive end credits, they are listed first, followed by those in the end credits, as required by IMDb policy on cast ordering.
The concert sequence at the end of the film was filmed entirely in one very hectic day, with multiple cameras. At one point, the sheer volume of noise generated by screaming fans was such that a member of the camera crew realized that it had caused a crack in one of his teeth. It was this that convinced cameraman Gilbert Taylor to turn down the offer to work with the Beatles again on "Help!" the following year.
The unseen character of "Susan the Trendsetter" was a parody of Cathy McGowan, host of the British TV series Ready, Steady, Go! (1963) and one of the most controversial figures in British pop music in the 1960's. Fan magazines of the period contained letters from people who loved MacGowan and others who hated her.
Due to a minor road traffic accident whilst driving his mini Paul MCartney had to miss several weeks filming. Due to deadlines enforced by the Beatles busy schedule Dick Lester had no choice but to carry on filming without McCartney, and instead brought in an unknown actor who had a passing resemblance to McCartney. The extra, William Shears, was filmed primarily from behind and in profile. Following completion of the film he signed away all rights to his likeness as well as a confidentiality agreement and, sadly, disappeared back into obscurity.
Paul McCartney near the beginning says his mother thought the trip would do Paul's Grandfather good to help his broken heart. Later on Norm tell's John Lennon, to "Put those girl's down or I'll tell your mother. Both John Lennon and Paul McCartney lost their mother's in real life at young ages. Paul's in 1956 when he was fourteen, and John's in 1958 when he was seventeen.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Pattie Boyd appears in several scenes in the first act, all on the train. 1) She is one of the two "schoolgirls on the train" they first encounter 2) Paul McCartney chats her up with her friend. 3) She sits next to Paul and smiles and sings on "I Should Have Known Better". She and George Harrison, who met during filming, married within 18 months.