A Hard Day’s Night Screen 19 articles

A Hard Day’s Night

1964

A Hard Day’s Night Poster
  • The movie is beautifully photographed. It uses "underground" cinema techniques, it swings. It's not locked to one spot, it moves freely. But neither good acting nor good photography can make a good movie. There must be an artist behind it. There must be a madness of a different kind. Two or three inspired shots remain two or three inspired shots. There is no movie. "A Hard Day's Night" is a sufficiently well-made melodrama about the Beatles.

  • Lester's gimmicky camera-trickery - jump-cuts, fast and slow motion, etc, etc - is so much icing on the cake, and has dated badly; but the mop-tops are likeably relaxed, with Lennon offering a few welcome moments of his dry, acerbic wit.

  • A Hard Day's Night, rereleased this week at Film Forum, is hardly a great film. But as the movie that first projected the Beatles as something other than the lucky beneficiaries of a mindless teenage fad, it's laden with cultural significance.

  • The music endures on its own, and the movie endures because it offers so much more than the music. Speaking lines frequently cribbed from their own remarks at press conferences, the Beatles seem wholly relaxed playing mild caricatures of themselves, with Lennon in particular demonstrating enough natural skill that Lester wound up casting him in How I Won The War a few years later.

  • Lester clearly aligns with anarchy, reflecting it in the film’s still-enlivening sense of “anything goes” stylistic play: the whizz-bang editing, the roving camerawork, the use of fast motion. It’s the Beatles themselves, however, that remain the main draw of A Hard Day’s Night. Whatever you think of their off-stage antics in the film, there’s no doubt about the sheer innocent joy they radiate, whether as musicians or as actors.

  • The fact remains that A Hard Day's Night has turned out to be the Citizen Kane of jukebox musicals, the brilliant crystallization of such diverse cultural particles as the pop movie, rock 'n' roll, cinéma vérité, the nouvelle vague, free cinema, the affectedly hand-held camera, frenzied cutting, the cult of the sexless subadolescent, the semidocumentary, and studied spontaneity.

  • Made on the fly to capitalize on The Beatles' meteoric rise, Richard Lester's joyous and innovative pseudo-documentary is also transparently promotional, a shrewdly calculated exercise in star manufacture. Yet even as it strings together the obligatory hit parade of singles and performance sequences, the film conveys an intensely liberated spirit, with fun interludes and digressions that make bubblegum out of the French New Wave.

  • The sixties gave us artists whose work turned the mirror back on the media: Andy Warhol and Jean-Luc Godard, and also the Beatles, who, in their first film, “A Hard Day’s Night,” from 1964, center their action on a television appearance and mock its codes and conventions even as they fulfill them, beyond their producers’ wildest dreams.

  • Richard Lester directed and it’s impossible to overstate the influence Hard Day’s Nighthas had on our culture. It is still being imitated today. Or, the imitations are imitating the imitations. The film’s impact has been so completely absorbed that you can’t even feel it anymore. But that’s the beauty of going back to the original: you can see it there, in clear crisp black-and-white, the genesis of so much, the genesis of everything.

  • Made by the satiric director Richard Lester, the film bucks the trend of rock movies cleaning up sex symbols for teens to introduce to their mothers. If anything, its manic energy feels like a regression from Ed Sullivan back to the band's drunken, prellie-fueled apprenticeship in Hamburg clubs.

  • A split second before Ringo and the tall guy (Jeremy Lloyd—stage actor, Beatles acquaintance, and regular clubgoer) start jumping, on the sidelines there’s another toothy lovely in a vest, listening to John. It first looks like she has one stylish boot up on the table. But when you look more closely—and A Hard Day’s Night repays frame-by-frame examination more fully than the Zapruder film—you discover her heel is actually cupped in a companion’s hand...

  • Joy and freedom: those feelings were what the Beatles brought to an astonished world when they appeared as if by divine fiat in the early ‘60s, and they’re the same feelings that "A Hard Day’s Night" perfectly preserves for those too young to have experienced Beatlemania first-hand. Fifty years later, I watch the film and feel about it almost exactly as my 12-year-old self did. That would be astonishing, perhaps, if I’d not learned long ago to expect such serendipitous miracles from the Beatles.

  • Even through the mystical blur of my affection for it, I can see that A Hard Day’s Nightis one of the world’s perfect films. Lester, who’d previously directed a trad jazz caper called Ring-A-Ding Rhythm!, knew just what to do with the material (written by Alun Owen) and with the stars, who were already on their way to being (almost) bigger than Jesus.

  • Aside from its very dry sense of humour, the alchemical result of Lester's direction, Alun Owen's screenplay and the Beatles' deadpan line delivery, there are so many remarkable things about this movie... The use of editing to enhance a script, leaving that perfect beat between the final syllable and the hard cut to wring the comic best out of every punchline.

  • It’s true that few films kick off with such a sense of immediacy: the film just starts with a bang... and carries us right along on its rush (as an integral part of the stylistic boldness, the credits proper are left to the very end, set to a montage of Robert Freeman photo portraits). Yet if there was ever a film in which spontaneity was manifestly manufactured, it’s this one—and the manufacture of spontaneity is what this idiosyncratically cynical masterpiece is all about.

  • The movie certainly hasn’t looked or sounded this good since 1964 – I can remember seeing a scratchy, dirty, squawky print at some point in the ’80s – and the net effect is one of wonder and revelation. Two of the four Beatles are long dead and those screaming tween girls in their audience are collecting their pensions, but the movie delivers a tremendous jolt of youthful energy, a combination of cheerfulness, cynicism and pop transcendence that’s much greater than the sum of its parts.

  • United Artists hired him on the basis of his influential short "The Running, Jumping and Standing Still Film," the intimate and gracefully surreal style of which will be recognizable to anyone who's seen Lester's Beatles pictures. . . . This was a scripted motion picture, but it was often scripted on the fly. Luckily for Lester the Beatles were witty with or without a script and had reserves of natural laid-back charisma.

  • The screaming fans . . . are the movie’s visible, beating heart — the literal manifestation of the awe and adoration that Richard Lester and his cinematographer Gilbert Taylor lavish on the Beatles. What makes A Hard Day’s Night more than an exhilarating, cinematically alive comedy, what makes it a profound statement of belief in the transcendent possibility of art, is looking at those screaming girls and thinking, “That’s me.”

  • A Hard Day’s Night turned me on to the Beatles as it did for countless others, and the opening sequence goes a long way in establishing why. There’s an instant rush in watching hordes of British youths rapt in Beatlemania chasing their idols, while the film’s title track adds to the joyous fervor of their pursuit. Every time I’ve watched this sequence I immediately get swept away by its momentum...

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