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!
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.
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!
Before A Christmas Story, before the Grinch and Charlie Brown, most Baby Boomers’ holiday tradition was watching the movie White Christmas, the 1954 musical starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen. We saw it so often, we probably knew almost every line by heart.
But here are a few things you probably didn’t know about the movie:
1. The Danny Kaye part was intended for Fred Astaire. The movie began as a quasi-remake of Holiday Inn, the black & white film that first teamed Bing Crosby and Astaire and the movie debut of the Irving Berlin song, “White Christmas.” But Astaire had announced his retirement (it wouldn’t stick) and turned the part down. It was then offered to Donald O’Connor, who accepted. Then he became ill and had to bow out. So, Kaye was the producers' third choice.
2. The musical number “Sisters” wasn’t in the original script. Crosby and Kaye were horsing around with the girls’ costume on the set. It cracked up director Michael Curtiz so much that he had the number worked up and included in the film.
3. Try and see Vera Ellen’s neck. Throughout the film, Vera is always wearing a turtleneck, scarf or other covering around her neck. No one knows why. Some theorize that there was some flaw in her neck that she was covering up. Others think it was Vera Ellen’s attempt to create a trademark look for herself.
4. While Rosemary Clooney plays Vera Ellen’s older sister, she was actually 7 years younger than her co-star. Also, Bing Crosby was a bit older than Dean Jagger, who plays “the old general” in the film. By the way, Bing was nearly twice Clooney’s age (51 to her 26!).
5. If you look closely, you’ll see future West Side Story star George Chakiris as a chorus boy in the production numbers.
6. The photo of “Benny the Dog-Faced Boy” who was brother to Rosemary & Vera is a photo of a grown-up Alfalfa Switzer of Little Rascals fame.
7. Bob Fosse worked on the film as an uncredited choreographer. It was early in the legendary dancer/choreographer/director’s career and Vera Ellen brought him on to choreograph her numbers, but without screen credit.
I Walked with a Zombie may be the best movie with the dumbest title in motion picture history. Cranked out by b-movie horror unit at RKO pictures in 1943, this low budget gem is far better than you might expect.
This was the second in a strong of really good low-key horror movie produced under the supervision of Val Lewton, one of filmland’s most underappreciated artists.
RKO had two rules he had to follow. One, he had to produce his films on a small budget. Two, he had to use titles the studio’s marketing department had already dreamed up and tested. The studio didn’t care about the actual plots, as long as Lewton used the titles.
So after they saddled Lewton with The Cat People and he turned that title into a really great horror movie, they gave him an even sillier title for his follow-up.
I Walked with a Zombie concerns a young nurse (Frances Dee) who arrives at a sugar plantation on the Caribbean island of Saint Sebastian. She is to care for the invalid wife of the plantation’s owner, played by Tom Conway. The wife appears near catatonic and is given to taking silent, dreamlike walks at night. The local legend is that the wife is not sick, but actually dead and returned to life as a zombie by the island’s voodoo practitioners.
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