“Now look, I’ve had a marvelous idea: just for once, let’s all try to behave like ordinary, respectable citizens.”
Response to Peary’s Review:
This cult classic does indeed remain a “treasure”, for all the reasons outlined in Peary’s review (he goes into further detail in his Cult Movies essay). As Peary notes, the film nicely shows that despite the boys’ silliness and “vices”, they “are neither lazy nor irresponsible”; while they’re not presented as “heroic or wise figures”, “they’re to be admired… because of their professional attitude toward their music.” Importantly, they “like their fans, though the adoration befuddles them” — and “their loyalty to one another has less to do with friendship than with each being aware that only three other people in the world know what they’re going through as the only sane people in a Beatles-crazy world… Over and over again, when the pressures of living in a fishbowl get them down, they pick up their instruments and, quickly, they’re smiling again”, singing classics such as “I Should Have Known Better”, “If I Fell”, “And I Love Her”, “I’m Happy Just to Dance With You”, “Tell Me Why”, and “She Loves You”.
There are numerous elements to enjoy about A Hard Day’s Night, and countless memorable scenes; as Roger Ebert noted, this movie “has not aged and is not dated; it stands outside its time, its genre and even rock. It is one of the great life-affirming landmarks of the movies.” The young Beatles’ infectious enthusiasm for life and music — those smiles! — is the biggest draw by far, but I also love the sly supporting performances (particularly by Brambell and Spinetti); the “mod” sets; the consistently creative camera moves and angles; and the wonderful subplot provided to “poor Ringo”, who gets to be the star for once in his career. Also classic, of course, are the many shots of screaming fans, both those running tirelessly after the Beatles wherever they go, and those attending the concert; I especially appreciated noting this time around how many male fans are in the audience. (Phil Collins — who narrated an engaging 1995 documentary about the making of the film entitled You Can’t Do That! — points out he was an audience member himself.)
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)