We are all familiar with it. The opening chord and then the image of the boys running down the side-walk. It makes my heart race and for reasons I will never understand, I just want to let out a loud scream. After 25 years of being a Beatlemaniac, the movie A Hard Day’s Night still excites me. I must have seen it over 100 times by now and I have most of the dialogue memorized. I have bought it twice on VHS, once on DVD and plan on getting the new Blu-Ray DVD combo.
The first time I ever saw the classic Beatles movie was in 1989. I was in the 7th grade and it was the end of the school year. Like many teachers, my music teacher ended the school year by showing movies. He showed A Hard Day’s Night and Help! to finish off the year. While I wasn’t able to watch the film in one sitting and I had a difficult time hearing it over the chatter of middle school kids as well as being unfamiliar with the Liverpudlian accent, there was just something about it that I really enjoyed. I thought it was funny and the music was great. I knew I had to watch it again.
It must have been shown on the Disney channel or PBS or somewhere, because I recorded it off the TV and the tracking was terrible, but it was that bad VHS copy that I watched over and over again. I learned the lines, laughed and sang along. Then for the 30th anniversary of the Beatles coming to America, a home video collection box set was released. I was able to get “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Help!” and “Magical Mystery Tour” all on VHS in a box set. It was sort of confusing to me because it started with “I’ll Cry Instead” and I was not sure if it was supposed to begin with that song, as I hadn’t recorded it off the television that way. It was also around this time that I bought the book version of the script from a used book store and I would follow along while watching the film. In the summer after I graduated from high school I went to my first Beatle convention and they were showing all of the Beatles movies during the weekend. It was so much fun to watch “A Hard Day’s Night” on the big screen with other fans and to my amazement, they were screaming and cheering and participating with the movie. When I was 18, I had to get my wisdom teeth taken out and I was in a lot of pain. My mom put in my good old VHS copy of A Hard Day’s Night and remember wanting to laugh, but it hurt too much.
I brought the movie with me to college and my friends and I enjoyed watching it and my other Beatle films over and over again. We began quoting the movies and “grotty” quickly became part of our daily vocabulary as well as other “Beatleisms.” It really was amazing that “A Hard Day’s Night” was something that I could watch and not get tired of. I knew exactly what was going to happen and yet I still found it fresh and funny. When the “Making of A Hard Day’s Night” VHS came out, I loved hearing about some of the inside stories and jokes around the movie.
And so basically “AHDN” became part of my Beatle-fan life. I would watch it at Beatle conventions and a couple of times at home. And whenever it was re-released, I would watch it and buy it. The scenes are ingrained into my brain.
In early 2001, I went to a movie theater in St. Louis and for the first time ever I actually paid to see A Hard Day’s Night on the big screen. It was really amazing! The excitement was still there and everyone applauded when the film was over. This re-release came out on DVD a few years later and I had to get it in this new format.
|Photo from the 2001 re-release|
|Poster from the 2001 re-release|
In 2010 and again in 2013, I traveled to London and some of my favorite spots were locations where A Hard Day’s Night was made in 1964. Places such as Marylebone Station and the Turk’s Head pub look almost identical to how they looked in the movie.
This past Saturday I went again to see the film at the movie theater. There was only one theater in St. Louis that was showing the movie and thank goodness for GPS, because I couldn’t have found it otherwise. I went with my boyfriend, Shawn, who isn’t a Beatles fan and had never seen the movie before.
|Sara with her Diet Coke and the poster for the movie|
The first thing I noticed about this remastered version was how crystal clear the movie looked. I noticed things that I had never noticed before. Nothing huge or earth shattering to report, but just little things. One thing I had always been told was that my favorite Beatle person, Mal Evans was seen in the movie carrying a bass during the scene where John is talking to a woman about looking like “him.” In watching this version, I came to think it might not be Mal after all. This fellow has different glasses and different hair than Mal did in 1964 and his jaw line doesn’t look the same. Now, I could be wrong, but it sure didn’t look like the gentle giant that I have came to adore.
It also was extremely clear that when asked about his hobbies, John wrote a word that ended in “its.” I remember debates going wild on line about that topic in the late 1990’s. The sound was also very clear and crisp. I would love to always hear the Beatles sing that way!
I do want to add that this was my first time watching “A Hard Day’s Night” with popcorn and I had to hand my popcorn over because was getting too excited and thought I would spill it.
My boyfriend overall enjoyed the film. He thought the acting was a little bad, but he said that he could appreciate it for what it was. He said that for a black and white older movie, it was one of the best that he had seen. He also said that if he had seen the movie alone, he would have given it a 5/10 but sitting next to me, who was so excited throughout the whole movie, moved it up to an 8/10. But then he has to say nice things about it, doesn’t he?
I would say that you do not need to go see the movie at the movie theater on the big screen unless you just want to see it for the fun of it. However, if the new DVD / Blu-ray is as clear as what I saw, then it is a necessity for all Beatle fans to include in their collections.