A Hard Day's Night
A Hard Day's Night (1964) is a British comedy film written by Alun Owen and starring The Beatles during the height of Beatlemania. The director was Richard Lester, the producer Walter Shenson and the director of photography Gilbert Taylor. In addition to The Beatles, cast members included Wilfrid Brambell, Norman Rossington, John Junkin, Lionel Blair, Victor Spinetti, John Bluthal and Derek Nimmo. The soundtrack album A Hard Day's Night was The Beatles' first. The film premiered on July 6, 1964.
The film was shot for United Artists using a cinéma vérité style in black and white and produced over a period of 16 weeks in the spring of 1964. Black and white was chosen for its lower cost, and the short timescale was because the studio was convinced that Beatlemania would not last beyond the summer of '64. (Their primary interest in making the movie, in fact, was the potential sales from licensing a soundtrack album.) The film also used the innovative technique of cutting the images to the beat of the music, and because of this many see the film as playing a major role in development of modern music videos, especially the "Can't Buy Me Love" segment, which featured creative camera work, and the band running and jumping around in a field.
The film's director, Richard Lester, also directed The Beatles' 1965 film, Help!. He went on to direct several popular motion pictures of the 1970s and 1980s, including The Three Musketeers and Superman II.
Three extras would become famous in their own right. Phil Collins was an extra in the concert sequence and later became the drummer for Genesis. Pattie Boyd later married both George Harrison and Eric Clapton. A Hard Day's Night also marks the uncredited film debut of Charlotte Rampling as an attractive young dancer featured prominently in the disco sequences.
Unlike the standard rock and roll movies of the early 1960s, which tended to lack a plot, A Hard Day's Night had a solid, well-written script at the insistence of The Beatles and manager Brian Epstein. Screenwriter Alun Owen was chosen because they were familiar with his play No Trams to Lime Street, and Owen had a knack for Liverpudlian dialogue.
The film chronicles in a mock documentary-style The Beatles arriving at a theatre, rehearsing, and finally performing in a television special. Owen spent several days with the group, who told him their lives were like "a room and a car and a room and a car and a room and car". He realised that by 1964 The Beatles were prisoners of their own fame, and their schedule of performances and studio work by that time was extremely punishing, and this was written into the script. The character of Paul's grandfather refers to this, saying, "I was supposed to be getting a change of scenery, and so far I've been in a train and a room, and a car and a room, and a room and a room."
The film is one of the best depictions of Beatlemania. In various places, The Beatles comment cheekily on their own fame: for instance, at one point a fan recognises John Lennon as being John Lennon; he demurs, saying his face isn't quite right. The fan eventually agrees.
New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther noted the film is also a subtle satire on the image of rock-and-roll music (and The Beatles in particular) as a source of youth rebellion and defiance of authority. In the film, The Beatles are portrayed as likeable young lads who are constantly amazed at the attention they receive and who want nothing more than run around and have a good time; however, they have to deal with screaming crowds, idiot journalists who ask nonsense questions, and authority figures who constantly look down upon them. The biggest troublemaker in the film is an elderly senior citizen, Paul McCartney's "clean" grandfather (played by Wilfrid Brambell).
In 2004 the magazine Total Film named A Hard Day's Night the 42nd greatest British film of all time. In 2005, Time.com named it one of the 100 best films of the last 80 years.
The movie's strange title originated from something said by Ringo Starr, The Beatles' drummer. Starr described it this way in an interview with disc jockey Dave Hull in 1964: "We went to do a job, and we'd worked all day and we happened to work all night. I came up still thinking it was day I suppose, and I said, 'It's been a hard day...' and I looked around and saw it was dark so I said, '...night!' So we came to 'A Hard Day's Night.'"
According to Lennon in a 1980 interview with Playboy magazine: "I was going home in the car and Dick Lester [director of the movie] suggested the title, 'Hard Day's Night' from something Ringo had said. I had used it in 'In His Own Write' [a book Lennon was writing then], but it was an off-the-cuff remark by Ringo. You know, one of those malapropisms. A Ringo-ism, where he said it not to be funny... just said it. So Dick Lester said, 'We are going to use that title.'"
In a 1994 interview for The Beatles Anthology, however, McCartney disagreed with Lennon's recollections, basically stating that it was The Beatles and not Lester, who had come up with the idea of using Starr's verbal misstep: "The title was Ringo's. We'd almost finished making the film, and this fun bit arrived that we'd not known about before, which was naming the film. So we were sitting around at Twickenham studios having a little brain-storming session... and we said, 'Well, there was something Ringo said the other day.' Ringo would do these little malapropisms, he would say things slightly wrong, like people do, but his were always wonderful, very lyrical... they were sort of magic even though he was just getting it wrong. And he said after a concert, 'Phew, it's been a hard day's night.'"
In 1996, yet another version of events cropped up — in an Associated Press report, the producer of the movie A Hard Day's Night, Walter Shenson, stated that Lennon described to Shenson some of Starr's funnier gaffes, including "a hard day's night", whereupon Shenson immediately decided that that was going to be the title of the movie (the originally planned title was Beatlemania). Shenson then told Lennon that he needed a theme song for the film. That song, also titled "A Hard Day's Night", became a huge hit.