One of the film's original taglines was, "Please do not reveal the beginning of this movie to your friends (they'd never believe it, anyway)". This is a spoof of the tagline from 'Alfred Hitchcock''s Psycho (1960), which implored its audience, "Please do not reveal the ending of this movie to your friends (it's the only one we have)".
Originally, the Beatles were going to make a western picture. The story was going to be set in Texas and involved the four of them fighting over the affections of a cattle baron's daughter. There are even publicity photos showing them on horseback and wearing cowboy outfits. However the film shut down production and the Beatles ended up making this film instead.
According to Paul McCartney, the script was designed around their requests that the story involve them going to places like the Austrian Alps and the Bahamas because they had never been there before. (The Bahamas were also chosen because they were British territory, and allowed them a tax shelter.)
By Paul's and Ringo's own admission, they were so stoned on pot the day they shot the scene where Dr. Foot and Algerman tried to blow them up in the Austrian Alps, that when George screamed his line "It's an fiendish thingy! Run Ringo!" both Ringo and Paul ran over the next hill.
During the filming of the bicycle scene, a Hindu devotee approached all four Beatles with copies of a book about reincarnation, sparking the interest in Hinduism George Harrison would carry the rest of his life.
There was a lengthy scene in the movie (running around 10 minutes) which was filmed but never used. This follows the Beatles escape from Clang and before the elevator scene between John and Ringo, and involved them hiding out at the "Sam Ahab School of Transcendental Elocution", an acting school run by Sam Ahab (played by Frankie Howerd). Sam's pupil Lady Macbeth (a young Wendy Richard) performs a meditation song which causes George to block his ears with earplugs while Clang and his men (hidden in the fireplace) play a piece of music which sends everyone else into a trance. A struggle ensues, as Clang attempts to chop Ringo's hand off with a hatchet to retrieve the ring but the gang are fought off by the non-hypnotized George. After the men flee (and the hatchet is hurled by Clang into a mirror) the others are revived and the scene ends with John yanking the hatchet from the (non-broken) mirror, handing it to Lady Macbeth, and saying, "Is this a chopper that you see before you?". Although this filmed scene has not yet been discovered and may no longer exist.
The Hindu god that Klang and his occult worships is "Kali" (Also known as Kali-Ma). Kali is the eastern equivalent to the "Grim Reaper". She is also the god worshiped by the occult in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984).
It is a popular belief that the first time John appeared in public wearing his trademark glasses was in film How I Won the War (1967). This is not true; John can be seen wearing his granny glasses during the scene in which the Beatles are in disguise at an airport, waiting for a flight to the Bahamas. In an earlier scene at the Indian restaurant, John can be seen spooning the same pair - or same type - of glasses out of his soup.
George Harrison said that during the filming of the sequence in which the Beatles threw a hose out the window and the army guards all fall down, they were in hysterics laughing and the scene took almost a day to film.
Throughout the filming, Paul McCartney drove director Richard Lester to distraction by constantly playing the melody of a new song he was working on called "Scrambled Eggs". By the time filming had wrapped, "Scrambled Eggs" had acquired new lyrics and a new title: "Yesterday".
In the pub scene, the other three Beatles are persuading Ringo to have his ring finger amputated. Ringo refuses, insisting that he will miss the digit. Paul counters with, "Well, you didn't miss your tonsils, did you?" Ringo actually underwent a tonsillectomy two months prior to filming.
The Bahamas, which is where the "Another Girl" sequence was filmed, was actually rather cold during filming. This why all the Beatles except Paul are wearing long-sleeve shirts in what looks like very hot weather.
Beatles producer George Martin joined the Beatles in the Alps for a skiing vacation, while they filmed there, but hardly got to enjoy it; he broke his ankle the very first day. Also, while Martin had provided the instrumental soundtrack for A Hard Day's Night (1964), he and Richard Lester hadn't gotten along, and Lester chose Ken Thorne for "Help!"'s instrumental score; in Martin's own words, "I was included out."
"Help!" was such a late decision for the film title, that when Capitol Records released the first single, "Ticket To Ride" / "Yes It Is", the A-Side was credited as being from the film, "Eight Arms To Hold You".
The original title of the movie was "Eight Arms to Hold You", although no one really liked it much and by the time the movie was edited, it didn't really fit the storyline at all. John Lennon had written the song "Help!" around the same time, and it suited the movie's theme so well it became the title song.
Before the ski shot in the Austrian Alps, The Beatles told Lester that they never skied before. Lester handed them skis and told them, "What better time to learn? Find a hill, and PRACTICE!" Lester said in a later interview, "We set cameras to follow them around, then gave those tapes to the Editor to create parts of the 'Ticket to Ride' scene."
According to still photos included in the "making of" documentary on the new Special Edition DVD, one of the features in Ringo's apartment space that was not used in the movie was a little dining room table and chairs in the vending machine wall that would pop out in the same manner as Paul's organ.
A miniaturized Paul is wearing flesh-colored bathing trunks during his brief (no pun intended) "nude scene" in "The Exciting Adventures of Paul On The Floor". The discarded chewing gum wrapper which he uses to wrap around himself as a towel is clearly labeled Wrigley's Spearmint Gum.
The lockup scene was filmed at a psychiatric hospital in the Bahamas. Not long afterward, the band attended a dinner with the Minister of Finance, where John Lennon criticized the hospital's conditions.
Beatles' reading material: The book John takes from the shelf and kisses before settling down to read, is his own "A Spaniard in the Works." Meanwhile, Paul has a selection of Superman comic books atop his organ. (In the novelization of the movie, the book John selects is "Les Liaisons Dangereuses", aka "Dangerous Liaisons".)
There's a moment in the "Ticket to Ride" sequence where The Beatles are skiing in the Austrian Alps, and appear to ski right underneath musical notation for the song itself. In the 2007 documentary that accompanied the film's DVD release, Richard Lester stated that the decision to add musical notes came from the fact that the lads were skiing under some unsightly "telegraph wires". Since he couldn't remove the wires digitally (this was the pre-CGI era, after all), he figured they'd make an ideal musical staff instead.
In the final "I'm going to miss the sacrifice" scene where Klang's men, The Beatles, Ahme and the good police of the Bahamas are on the beach where they are rolling around in the sand fighting, a strange shot of a pair of very feminine legs and skin covered with sand is inserted for a flash of a second.
The "ferocious man-eating tiger" which terrifies Ringo in the cellar of the pub is actually only a cub; it appears to be about ten months old. A real full-grown tiger would be MUCH larger. In addition to this, Ringo was also behind several inches of glass, separating between him and the tiger (this was mentioned in the special edition DVD).
During the closing credits, the Beatles and their co-stars take turns appearing as reflections in a giant ruby. During this sequence, George can be heard in voice-over, proclaiming "'I Need You' written by George Harrison!" and repeating this same information twice. As the movie ends, John's image is the last that appears in the ruby.
Victor Spinetti, who played one of the bumbling scientists, also appeared in two other Beatles films. This was Welsh actor Spinetti's second time playing opposite The Beatles, having portrayed the uppity TV Director in 'A Hard Day's Night' the previous year. He was a personal favourite actor of The Beatles, who asked him to appear in 'A Hard Day's Night' after seeing one of his theatre performances. (According to Spinetti, George Harrison told him, "You've gotta be in all our films. If you're not in them, me mum wouldn't come and see them, because she fancies you.") Two years after 'Help!', Spinetti showed up as an army sergeant in the band's third movie, 'Magical Mystery Tour'.
While filming in the Bahamas, The Beatles rented sports cars for each of them to drive in. According to various stories, they drove to a rock quarry and began having races and smashing into each other for fun. There is filmed evidence of this fact: in the theatrical trailer, there are excerpts of the Beatles driving around in the quarry, mixed with the movie footage.
There is also a second scene involving a gun, which takes place during the Beatles' visit to Buckingham Palace. This time, the gun fires; nobody is hit, but all four Beatles drop reflexively to the floor.
Ken Thorne's musical score is largely made up of elaborate orchestral re-arrangements of "A Hard Day's Night", "You Can't Do That", "I'm Happy Just to Dance with You", and "From Me to You" by The Beatles.
The Bahamas scenes, which come at the end of the movie, were actually the first to be shot. The Alps scenes were filmed second, and the England scenes were filmed last. One scene which never appeared in the final film involves Ringo milking a cow in the back room. It was supposed to take place just before John takes a book from the shelf and sits down in his pit.
A sequence in this film is credited with introducing many Americans to the sport of curling. Reportedly, some reviewers, as well as audience members, thought it was just another fantasy element made up for the film. Curling has been a legitimate Olympic sport since the 1920s.
While meeting with the Scotland Yard Superintendent about protection for Ringo, John asks him how the investigation of the "Great Train Robbery" was going. While this might seem like some type of throw away line, he is talking about a real event. On August 8th, 1963, thieves successfully robbed the London Mail Train which was hauling over 2 Million English Pounds worth of money. At the time "Help!" was made, Scotland Yard had yet to fully identify the men behind what was considered the biggest heist in history and had not yet fully recovered the money. (It's been said that the thieves weren't expecting such a huge haul and began throwing money away because they couldn't travel with it.) The robbery would go unsolved until 1968 when the mastermind, Bruce Reynolds, was finally caught.
The comic books seen in the Beatles' flat include Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #65 (December 1962), Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #67 (March 1963), Action Comics #304 (September 1963), Superman #165 (November 1963), Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #75 (March 1964), Action Comics #311 (April 1964), Action Comics #314 (July 1964) and Amazing Stories of Suspense #23 (August 1964). The director Richard Lester would later take over the direction of Superman II (1980) from Richard Donner and direct Superman III (1983).
Whilst filming the "Another Girl" scene Paul is playing a girl as if she's a bass guitar. At one point he throws his arm in the air and when he resumes "strumming" he accidentally brushes the girl. His face afterwards is a picture.