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flick pick | A Hard Day's Night 1964
Directed by: Richard Lester
Written by: Alun Owen
Starring: George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr
Language: English
Look for it at the video store under: comedy, classic, musical

Watch it when you’re in the mood for something: true?!?, whimsical, witty
The critic says: ½/ 5 the rating system explained
Fun factor: ½/5

Plot synopsis Shot in pseudo-documentary style, A Hard Day’s Night tells the fictional story of a “typical” day in the life of four young pop stars: The Beatles. Beatle-mania has hit Britain in full force, and John, Paul, George and Ringo can’t step outside for a second without hordes of screaming, crying young girls chasing them down. The day begins as the four are herded onto a train, en route to a live performance that’ll take place on television later that afternoon. Hampered by the presence of Paul’s trouble-stirring, manipulative, oddball grandfather, and by the fact that they’re constantly being recognized and mobbed wherever they go, the band copes with ridiculous interviewers at a press conference, a high-strung stage manager, as well as other handlers hell-bent on reigning in the mischievous, irreverent, and completely irrepressible young Beatles.

Review You’re a cold, cold soul if you can resist the infectious charm of The Beatles in their first film, A Hard Day’s Night. From the movie’s memorable madcap-frenetic opening scene, in which we watch the adorably-mop-topped, sharply dressed foursome running through the city streets with a horde of lovesick fans hot on their heels, A Hard Day’s Night just begs you to smile, sing along, and debate over which of the fab four is your personal favorite. Director Richard Lester’s decision to shoot much of the film in cinema verité style perfectly captures the ambience of the early 1960s, while at the same time giving it a timeless, fresh feel that makes you almost forget the sad fact that two of the exhilaratingly alive Beatles you see on-screen are no longer, actually, alive. Whereas today’s pop stars cum talentless movie star wannabes seem to feel the need to pretend to act, the Beatles are able to come off as completely, winningly natural in their first film foray precisely because they’re simply playing exaggerated versions of themselves. (Though, as the DVD’s extras reveal, the images that were to arise for each Beatle as a result of the movie weren’t entirely true to who the Beatles really were – in real life, apparently, one wouldn’t have been able to so neatly pigeonhole John as the brilliant one, Paul as the cute one, George as the quiet one, Ringo as the lovably under-appreciated one – it’s a wonderful thing the way that the film manages to at least make you feel like you’re getting to know the amazingly charismatic, unique individuals behind the group.) Screenwriter Alun Owen’s delightfully witty lines seem to roll spontaneously off each Beatles’ tongue, resulting in moment after moment of supremely quotable one-liners (one of my favorites is George’s response to a reporter’s inquiry about what he calls his haircut: “Arthur!”), and there’s a sort of wonderfully inspired, completely surreal zaniness that surfaces from time to time as well, all of which combine to make A Hard Day’s Night a true classic of a rock-n-roll comedy. —reviewed by Yee-Fan Sun

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