Now, more than half a century later, there has never been a rock & roll film that has surpassed “A Hard Day’s Night.” Not only is it a great rock movie and a great time capsule showing how insane Beatlemania was at its height, but it is simply a great movie (having made many “100 Greatest Films” lists) that influenced many subsequent filmmakers and is credited with single-handedly inventing the music video.
The next time you watch this classic, here are some things you can watch for that you might have missed before.
- The film’s shooting title was “Beatlemania.” Who made the actual decision to change it to “A Hard Day’s Night” is in dispute, but all agree the phrase was originally created by Ringo after a grueling work session.
- United Artists was sure that the Beatlemania was just a passing fad. They authorized a very small budget ($500,000) and memos at the time show that the studio thought the film would lose money. They were really only interested in the soundtrack album (where they believed they would make up the money they lost on the film). That’s the main reason the film was shot in black and white.
- Those opening scenes, where the boys are being chased by rabid fans to and through Marylebone Rail Station in London? The boys really are running for their lives. The film company used genuine Beatle fans who actually were trying to get their hands on the Fab Four.
- Look closely and you’ll see that George falls during that chase and Ringo goes tumbling after him. There was no way to cut due to those screaming fans. So the lads have to pick themselves up and continue their mad dash.
- While the script seems at times to be ad-libbed, it was all scripted. Screenwriter Allun Owen spent several weeks with the Beatles and all concerned say he came away with an incredible knack for being able to mimic their cheeky style.
- One of the young schoolgirls on the train was Patti Boyd, who went on to become George Harrison’s first wife and later, Eric Clapton’s wife. She was also to inspire the songs “Something (In the Way She Moves)” and “Layla.”
- In the famous “Can’t Buy Me Love” scene (credited with being the very first rock video), John was not available for the filming and so a double was used for the aerial shots.
- There is an “in” joke in the constant references to Paul’s grandfather as a “clean old man.” At that time, the actor playing John McCartney (Wilfred Bramell) played a junk man on British TV’s Steptoe and Son (the later American version was named Sanford and Son). As Steptoe, Bramell was constantly called a “dirty old man.” So the “clean old man” gags were funny to British audiences, but went right over the heads of American audiences.
- During the rapid fire press conference/cocktail party, asked what he calls his hairstyle, George replies, “Arthur.” That name was picked up and used as the name of an early trendy New York discotheque (pre-Studio 54).
- Don’t know if you’ll recognize him, but a very young Phil Collins is in the audience of kids at the televised concert that comes near the end of the film.
- Studio execs at United Artists in the States thought the Beatles’ accents would be incomprehensible to American audiences and asked that their real voices be replaced by voice actors with more “proper” British accents. Director Richard Lester declined their request.
- Where’s Paul’s solo scene? The other three Beatles all get short solo scenes: George with a TV producer, John with a dancer, and of course, Ringo going “adventuring.” But why no solo scene for Paul?
- Actually, there was. It was an encounter between Paul and an actress that happens while Paul is out looking for Ringo. The scene was shot but cut from the film because director Richard Lester felt it simply didn’t work. It came off as too stagey. Alas, the footage for this unused scene was destroyed by the studio in the days long before home video and bonus features were ever dreamed of. However, the scene did make it into the paperback novelization of the film and the actual script for it can be found here.
- The group’s name, “the Beatles,” is never said, even once, during the film. (It does appear on Ringo’s drum kit, the stage lighting during the concert and a helicopter at the end, but no one ever mentions their name out loud.)
Do yourself a favor and rent, buy or stream a copy of this classic soon.
Why did June Cleaver always wear high heels & pearls when performing household chores? The heels actually started in the second season – and for a very good reason. Her boys were growing taller and producers wanted June to maintain a height advantage over Wally & the Beaver to reinforce her role as mother.
The pearls were Barbara Billingsley’s idea and for a very good reason. She had a surgical scar at the base of her neck that she didn’t like. The pearls hid the scar.
The popular 1960s cartoon The Flintstones became a hit around the world but was not well received by one of television’s most iconic actors of all time, Jackie Gleason. According to Alan Reed Jr. (son of Alan Reed, who voiced Fred Flintstone), The Flintstones was inspired by The Honeymooners, Fred taking on the short-tempered and overbearing characteristics of Gleason’s vociferous Ralph Kramden while Barney’s rather goofy nature was modeled on Art Carney’s Ed Norton.
Gleason was none too pleased that the modern stone-age family was patterned after his beloved show and contemplated suing the creators of the cartoon. Although Gleason’s lawyers informed the actor that he could have The Flintstones canceled, they cautioned him that he would be known as “the guy who yanked Fred Flintstone off the air.” Understanding that many children and parents would be saddened, Gleason ultimately decided to let bygones be bygones.
A wild sitcom that lasted only a single season, but should have lasted longer, I’m Dickens, He’s Fenster had a talented cast. John Astin was Harry Dickens while Marty Ingels played Arch Fenster, two borderline incompetent carpenters. Emmaline Henry appeared as Dickens’ wife, Kate.
Other series regulars were the construction crew that joined the title character on jobs: Frank DeVol as Myron Bannister, David Ketchum as Mel Warshaw, Henry Beckman as Bob Mulligan, and Noam Pitlik as Bentley. Notable guest stars who appeared during the show’s brief run included Harvey Korman, Ellen Burstyn, Lee Meriwether and Yvonne Craig.
Is there a Baby Boomer worthy of the name that hasn’t seen Rebel Without a Cause? Doubtful, James Dean in that red jacket has become an everlasting icon of teenage angst and ambivalence.
But here are a few things about that classic film you may not know:
The title comes from a 1944 book – Warner Brothers purchased the rights to a book about a juvenile delinquent named Harold who wound up in the federal pen in Pennsylvania, For years, they tried to work into an acceptable screenplay. In fact, one of the first writers to try was a guy named Theodore Geisel – or as we know him better – Dr. Seuss.
Rock & Roll had only gotten a toe-hold on American television until the debut of Shindig, the first prime-show dedicated solely to rock music and Baby Boomers!
Prior to this, the only time you’d see a rock act in prime time was on The Ed Sullivan Show, but Ed would keep rock quarantined to a single act per show – and always intermingling with opera singers, plate spinners, Borscht Belt comics and singers who appealed to your mom and dad.
Yes, we had American Bandstand, but that aired in the late afternoon along with other “kid shows” like Huckleberry Hound. Shindig was the first time an entire 30-minute block was given over to appealing to the Baby Boom generation on a weekly basis.
Read on to discover more fascinating facts about this ground-breaking TV series!
The very first “rock & roll” film is also one of the best. Rock Around the Clock was rushed into production to capitalize on the success of its title song. That song had been released by Bill Haley & His Comets in 1954 to almost total apathy. It was forgotten until it became the song that played behind the opening credits of the definitive film about 1950s’ juvenile delinquency, Blackboard Jungle, in 1955. Overnight, rock & roll went from a small following of teenagers in a few cities to a nationwide phenomenon.
Columbia Pictures, always one of Hollywood’s lesser studios, decided to jump on the craze and quickly threw together a film that would showcase the music industry’s newest stars. The film was shot in one month (January, 1956) and rushed into theaters in March. Apparently, the studio was taking no chances that the “fad” for rock would die before they got make some money off of it.
In addition to Haley, the film also featured the Platters (performing what turned out to be their two biggest hits, “Only You” and “The Great Pretender) and a never-was rock ensemble that billed themselves as Freddie Bell and His Bellboys for the kids. The also an act aimed at a little older demographic, Tony Martinez and His Band.
Boston Blackie began life as a jewel thief and safecracker in a series f pulp stories written by Jack Boyle. He reached his greatest fame in a series of mystery movies produced in the 1940s by Columbia Pictures. In the movies, Blackie was now a reformed jewel thief, who nonetheless is always suspected by police inspector Farraday of being the guilty party in the mystery of the moment.
Portrayed on the screen by Chester Morris, Blackie was the engaging, witty rascal, always one step ahead of the police. He was drawn into solving these crimes in order to clear his name and get the cops off his back. A strong undercurrent of comedy ran through the popular series.
On paper, this TV series couldn’t miss. It was created by the two guys (Bill Persky & Sam Denoff) who had been head writers on The Dick Van Dyke Show and had launched Marlo Thomas to stardom by creating That Girl for her just a year earlier. It had TV series geniuses, Sheldon Leonard and Carl Reiner, calling the shots behind the scenes.
Unfortunately, Good Morning, World crashed and burned after only a single season.
The show’s premise was original. It starred Ronnie Schell and Joby Baker as a pair of zany morning DJs named Lewis & Clarke at a struggling L.A. radio station owned by Billy DeWolfe. Baker was married to a cute, sexy wife (Julie Parrish) while Schell was dating a ditzy blonde, played by a newcomer named Goldie Hawn.
All true fans know that 328 Chauncey St., Apartment 3-A is the Brooklyn address that Ralph Kramden and his wife, Alice, lived at in The Honeymooners.
That was bad news for Shurleen Conway. She REALLY lived at 328 Chauncey Street, Apartment 3-A in Brooklyn. Die-hard and somewhat deranged fans of the classic show continued showing up at her residence well into the 1980s hoping to catch a glimpse of Jackie Gleason’s alter ego.
There is no record whether she threatened to send them Bang! Zoom! To the Moon!
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