Yet when I went to see The Beatles in “A Hard Day’s Night” over the weekend, I did not leave the theater feeling I experienced an old movie.
It certainly fits the criteria; it is filmed in black and white, and it was released 50 years ago nearly to the day. Yet, many movies filmed in the 70s, 80s, and even the 90s seem more dated than The Beatles first film. Perhaps it doesn’t feel old because it contains dialogue that’s both witty and humorous, and every time I watch it still seems fresh to me.
Filming in black and white was an interesting choice for “A Hard Day’s Night”, considering that by 1964, most films were shot in color. Supposedly, United Artists did not want to spend the extra money, or take the chance on an English quartet that could be just a flash in the pan. They were wrong, of course, and I’m glad they were. There is something special about seeing The Beatles in Black and White, and though there are colorized versions of the film available, I like it as is. United Artists really missed the mark on their forecasting for “A Hard Day’s Night”, as the screenplay went on to be nominated for an Oscar that year. It lost to “Father Goose”, a romantic comedy starring Cary Grant and Leslie Caron, shot in color, of course, but as any writer would probably admit, a nomination is almost as good as a win.
Black and white or color, “A Hard Day’s Night” stands the test of time, and the one line zingers come so fast and quick, especially during the scenes that show the media interviewing The Beatles, you really have to pay attention to catch them all.
The four boys from Liverpool turned in good performances considering none of them had acting experience. Of course, they played comic versions of themselves, but that is not an easy task to pull off (think Elvis and his hammy performances in movies). The storyline is also believable. It focuses on the four young lads, and their first television appearance in England. Along the way they are asked to stay put in a hotel room and answer fan mail, and then in a studio while they wait to go on. Of course, they don’t listen. They just want to go out to and have fun. Who doesn’t want to do that in their early 20s?
If you have not seen this film, run to the nearest theater. If it’s not playing near you, a special 50th Anniversary version is also available on DVD and Blu-ray. Even if you have seen it one, twice, or a dozens of times like me, it is worth another look. It’s by far the best film of the summer.