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Music video before there were music videos
Ajtlawyer24 April 2002
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 over.

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.
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"It's a season ticket. What d'you think it is?"
doggans31 October 2001
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 plotlines.

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.
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that Ringo is something else
lee_eisenberg12 June 2005
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".
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Another Crazy Beatles Outing.
GuyCC25 December 2000
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.
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Great fun, great music - what's not to like?
neil-4764 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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Interesting period piece from an interesting director.....and, of course, the Beatles!
gus8117 January 2005
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.
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A brief glimpse into the end of an era of "innocence"
grasshopper5424 February 2008
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 Soul" lp.

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.
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bbrasher15 December 2001
...What kind of movie, you might ask? Comedy? Spy Thriller? Or just zany madcap nonsense? It doesn't matter. I've seen it many times over the past 30 years and it just gets better with age. The music of course, is phenomenal-and you don't have to be a die-hard Beatles fan to appreciate this musical comedy masterpiece.

Rating: ***** out of *****
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brianlion13 November 2002
"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.
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Weird little throwaway film with great music
kylopod10 November 2005
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.
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humour and music and a more focused but fictional script
rebeljenn30 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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The Giggly Cinema (spoilers)
vertigo_143 August 2004
Warning: 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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Still a cool movie
ebiros220 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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Disjointed, but fun film
asdodge7 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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Stuck in the Shadow of "Night" a classic in it's own right
rufasff5 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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Outdo A Hard Day's Night?!? Why?
avt13 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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Beatles Classic
Todd-1814 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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a mix of Looney Tunes and pre-Monty Python era hijinks, with a smashing soundtrack
Quinoa198417 November 2006
Help! is a Beatles movie that only is one in part- significant, sure, this time it's not simply the Beatlemania movie of the moment. They're still recognized and all by supporting characters, but being left to their own devices, in approximately more ways than one, it's got madcap tattooed on its brain. There's not really a Lord of the Rings element to it, being that the ring isn't going to destroy the entire world or not if it gets destroyed. In a way it's a MacGuffin (even as there is many a line exchanged about the importance of a finger, and how much Ringo might need it or not if chopped off). It could be anything, just as long as it has those quick-witted and quick-footed chaps from Liverpool on the run from the dastardly foreign royal-hunters and the scientists.

To describe all of what happens in Help! would take up more than a page load, but to put it really quick some of the highlights- Beatles in the Alps, Beatles in the Bahamas, Beatles in a royal palace, and all going back to the temple! Well, those aren't really highlights, but there's lots of great nuggets of gags and jokes in there. In fact, I'd say that the first half of the film, while the boys are still wondering why the hell they're being chased all around just for the big red rock on Ringo's finger, is purely wonderful, spot-on comedy, where the irreverent goes to very long lengths, including title cards, surprising exchanges, and all in very broad strokes. No need to know what these fellows are really like, that's never a point to be made. They're too busy for that- what with getting tailed every which way, recording songs, playing songs, dancing sometimes randomly when an alarm clock goes off or getting out of places in outrageous break-out-of-window fashion, and then even getting caught in the middle of a military assault. All of it is pulled off via Richard Lesters's direction with a full understanding of how this being silly, and the Beatles going for it, allows for so many possibilities, and almost all of them are realized.

The soundtrack, by the way, is definitely a favorite from the early Beatles days, with the classics of the title track, Ticket to Ride, Got to Hide Your Love Away, and Lose that Girl among others. They all fit in very well with the story too, or what's there of it. And the climax, which almost becomes anti in the last couple of minutes, is actually a given considering all that's happened- it caps off a 'why not' attitude to the situations that unfold. Also, quite a few excellent, quotable lines too. It's one of the best pictures of 1965. Grade- A
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A little help from my friends...
Lejink17 September 2009
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 mid-period.

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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"I am not what I seem!"
ShadeGrenade28 October 2007
Warning: 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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A superb piece of light entertainment
DennisJOBrien18 January 2006
I was 13 when I saw The Beatles in this film, at a downtown theater in Denver, Colorado. It was right after the movie was released in America, in August 1965. I remember the audience loved it, laughing hard. The photography was great. We stayed to see it twice that day. In 1966 I was lucky to attend a live Beatles concert in Boston.

Sure, the plot of Help! is silly. However, compare this British film with an American film during 1965, "Beach Blanket Bingo," starring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello. Both movies were aimed at the same youth market. Beach Blanket Bingo is forgettable, ridiculous tripe whereas Help! is a much more sophisticated and sublime form of humor. The music in Help! is much better as well. The colorful settings keep the action moving. Certainly, this was just another vehicle for The Beatles to showcase their many talents. But it succeeded, more than "Magical Mystery Tour" in 1967.
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a goodie
veryapparent11 March 2006
As fate would have it, one day many years ago, when I was still in high school, the local PBS station aired this movie. I flipped to it, not knowing what it was, and ended up watching it in its entirety. It was this movie that led me to fall in love with the Beatles before I knew who and what the Beatles really were. It kick-started a full-out personal Beatles-mania that lasted at least 5 years. This movie holds a special place in my heart, and a special place in my list of favorite movies.. top 10 definitely, hence the 10 out of 10 stars rating. It is funny, smart, cheeky, entertaining, fun, and hot. Ringo is my favorite. I'm going to go watch it right now.
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this is the best movie ever!!
sunnysunnyday189611 February 2006
its hilarious and a must see... you can get the DVD (used) on amazon and it costs like 40 dollars or something but it is completely worth it if you are a Beatles fan!! AMAZING FUNNY HILARIOUS MUST SEE 5 STARS!! john Paul George and Ringo are all hilarious on screen and the music as completely amazing. you will just want to sing along during every scene, and as random as this movie is, it is clever and enjoyable!this comment has to be 10 lines and i don't know what else to say except that you must see it and if you love the Beatles this is the most enjoyable way to see them IN COLOR!! i laugh every time i see it.... the jokes are discreet and if you are pessimistic and if you don't have a sense of humor you will NOT enjoy this movie because it if filled with corny and unbelievably random hilarious jokes!!
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Just got this on DVD today
usersince0310 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I bought this on DVD today and enjoyed it very much. I thought it might of been one of those films that I thought I would enjoy but didn't. There are times when I wished that I was alive in that decade (1960's). Eleanor Bron was great as Ahme, it was different from her role as Cathy Manchester in Two For The Road which came out two years after Help!. I'm sure other people have said this but it was ironic that one of the characters who is after the ring that Ringo is wearing tries to shoot John Lennon. My favourites songs on it were 'You've Got To Hide Your Love Away' and 'Ticket To Ride'. I thought the clothes on it were cool, especially Ahme's clothes.
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Pot Go The Beatles
slokes27 May 2007
Even more than "Yellow Submarine," "Help!" is a film for the kid in every Beatles fan. Unlike "Yellow Submarine" and "A Hard Day's Night," "Help!" is more a film for Beatles fans than outsiders.

It's human-sacrifice time at an "Eastern" (read "Indian") temple, but the ceremony is halted when the angry Clang (Leo McKern) realizes his would-be victim has lost her ceremonial ring. Turns out it's in the possession of a drummer named Ringo (Ringo Starr) who along with his fellow Beatles (John, Paul, and George) is soon being chased from A (Alps) to B (Bahamas) by Clang and his homicidal congregants.

"Help!" was how the Beatles followed up on the surprise success of "A Hard Day's Night", with a nod in the direction of that other British property of United Artists, James Bond, as it sends up a stream of glam, globe-trotting silliness. Another major influence here is Bob Dylan. Dylan pushed John Lennon in a more introspective songwriting direction, seen here with the title song and the sublime "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away". Less positively for the film, Dylan also introduced the Fab Four to cannabis, their drug of choice throughout the "Help!" shoot.

Lennon called it the band's "marijuana-for-breakfast" period, and while I don't see any telltale redeyes, the band members do seem curiously disengaged, from the project and each other. Except for one scene where the other three Beatles try to persuade Ringo to lose the ring, even if it also means the finger its stuck on (John: "Me and Paul haven't seen you make any use of that finger, have we, Paul?"), there's not much chemistry on display. Was it just pot, or that other drug called fame that made them so haggard after only a year?

They look best when miming a series of terrific songs presented inventively by director Richard Lester. "You're Going To Lose That Girl" is shot in a studio with eerie light effects shooting through the haze of cigarette smoke. George Harrison's "I Need You" chugs along nicely as the Beatles perform behind a cordon of tanks. "Another Girl" has the boys playing in the sand with pretty girls, laying out the blueprint the Monkees would follow a year later on American TV.

As a Beatles fan, there's something special also about seeing the band in 1965, a kind of high-water mark of their popularity. Their moptops have sprouted into mushrooms, while Beatlemania itself was mushrooming in popularity (their August 1965 concert at New York's Shea Stadium would be the biggest in their career) and recognition (MBEs meant a real trip to Buckingham Palace, not the fake one seen here).

The movie is a trip, in a good way mostly, as long as one doesn't try to follow the ever-vanishing plot line. No, "Hard Day's Night" didn't have a plot line, either, but it had the Beatles in concrete form. Here, the sharpness of Lennon's performance, and Harrison's banter with the others, is less on. Paul McCartney again brings up the rear in the acting department; perhaps his mind was on that "Scrambled Eggs" ditty he was working on between takes. Even Ringo seems sluggish, dopey rather than winsome (who can forget that look he gives the seductress in the train car in "Hard Day's Night"?)

It may have been the drugs, it may have been the celebrity, it may have been that they were handed a dodgy script. But something about the Beatles both disappoints and redeems "Help!" No, the chemistry's not there, but the charisma still is. It reminds me of another thing Lennon said later: No matter how wretched things got, something about the four of them and the image they carried pulled them through. "Eight Arms To Hold You" was this film's working title; it may have been what was holding them, too.
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