Ignored Obscured Restored
This is the next installment of my series on Rock music in films; today covering the British Invasion.
The Beatles reached into the homes of millions of Americans via The Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday evening, February 9, 1964, launching Beatlemania. A month later, the Beatles began filming their first movie – A Hard Day’s Night – that was released in the US the following August.
Like the Beatles’ music itself, A Hard Day’s Night set the bar for quality very high. It’s not only a good Beatle movie or a good Rock music movie; it’s simply a good movie – a very good pun and quip filled movie.
The screenplay was written by Alun Owen and deftly directed by Richard Lester. Both provide ample opportunities for each Beatle to reveal their personality. The Beatles prove that they are more than lovable mop tops. They are smart and funny young men. The scene where George accidentally stumbles into a focus group meeting for a ‘60s version of a style influencer is hilarious.
The segment where the boys escape the TV studio and romp around the Thornbury Playing Fields in Isleworth, Middlesex, to “Can’t By Me Love” was shot using camera techniques that would be copied many times over, especially by The Monkees.
Other movies starring British Invasion groups include fellow Liverpudlians Gerry and the Pacemakers in Ferry Cross the Mersey (1965), Herman’s Hermits’ Hold On (1966), and The Dave Clark Five in Having a Wild Weekend (1965). They all seem to try to imitate A Hard Days Night to a greater or lesser degree. But all fail.
Check out the DC5 mimicking the Can’t Buy Me Love, Thornbury scene at the end of this clip:
Having a Wild Weekend (originally Catch Us If You Can in England) is a decent film, the directorial debut by a young John Boorman who later achieved success with Deliverance (1972). The plot involves a young model/actress Dinah (Barbara Ferris) who wants to escape the pressure of being the commercial image behind a meat industry campaign. Stuntman Steve (Dave Clark) – who was a real-life stuntman before becoming a rock star — sympathizes with the craziness surrounding them and takes her away on an impromptu journey.
The film doesn’t take advantage of any “on-screen” performances by the group, a decision that limits its appeal. But it does include several DC5 recordings – “It’s Gonna Be Alright,” “Move On,” “I Like It” and, of course, “Catch Us If You Can.”
So stay tuned. There’s more to come in this exploration on the topic of Rock music in films.
Enjoy… until next week.