This is the next entry in a Theatre… a Movie… and a Time, a series that was begun here. It will be a special record in this ongoing mini-memoir of mine. Not only revisiting a memorable movie of my youth, but gathering some of its effect now five decades later after a recent screening. In the best place a fan could hope for — a darkened movie theater with strangers — sharing a love for the greatest rock ‘n roll movie of all time.
Again, my favorite haunt of late, Trailers From Hell, made the case for my feelings on the matter. In a blog post…
“Andrew Sarris called it the Citizen Kane of jukebox musicals but A Hard Day’s Night long ago broke free from the constraints of being “just” a great musical. Director Richard Lester’s most remarkable accomplishment was making the movie equivalent of a great Beatles song, a soaring, occasionally heartbreaking, ode to joy played out in 87 minutes.”
…and by really nailing the film’s essence care of its trailer. Their regular guru, director-producer Alan Arkush, in rare form:
The Royal Theatre:
[pictures are care of the Cinema Treasures site]
July 22, 2014: Fifty years…half a century…with one movie that started and at the heart of it all. Sure, I saw a number of films in 1964 as a ten-year old. Many of them first-run, in fact. Some have even stayed with and given me extraordinary joy in later revisits. One in particular, which received a highlight last week. A favorite Sean Connery film with its own movie legacy among these memory downloads that contained this infamous piece of dialogue:
“My dear girl, there are some things that just aren’t done, such as drinking Dom Perignon ’53 above the temperature of 38 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s just as bad as listening to the Beatles without earmuffs!”
I had by this time seen Richard Lester’s A Hard Day’s Night and knew how thoroughly and utterly wrong moviemakers made OO7 out to be at that very moment. An older group’s snide judgment reflected on the screen. On the other side of the chasm where I, and a whole lot of others my age, stood. Many generations would eventually join in admiration with regards to this marvel, as the decades have shown. But back then, we were at our widest apart.
Mine has not, and will never be, the last when it comes to The Lads and Richard Lester’s film. As Three Rows Back and Filmplicity prove. The quick, low-budget production pushed by United Artists so it could put out a new soundtrack album, loaded with new Beatles songs, to feed, grow and cash in on the mania. While that did happen, its mark on pop culture has been so much more. In a word, unsurpassed. Certainly, for those who experienced it firsthand.
Me, for one.
I’ve seen the film a handful of times on the big screen over the years. Owned a copy in all of its consumer formats, except Laserdisc, for countless revisits at home1. So when it was announced the film was to land back in theaters for its 2014 golden anniversary, I wasn’t going to miss it. But the way the cookie crumbles would conspire against that wish. The first shot, at the TCM Film Festival in April, where it enjoyed the world premiere at the event2.
My colleague Sal Gomez covered the event for Examiner.com.
I’d miss the screening, sad to say. The death of a longtime friend will do that. When it finally ran locally, I thought I’d catch the film at the end of June. Nope. Not to be. Work and family would offer their own crises for the start of summer. Such is the lot for some of us parents. A long ago set of lyrics in a Michael Franks song came to mind. Crystallize my predicament of ever catching The Lads where and when I most wanted for this celebration:
All of the people in wonderland have wondrous plans
That never come to pass
Life in all her wisdom’s laid them low
I’d almost come to the conclusion to just be happy with the new Criterion Collection Blu-ray Disc gotten. Luckily, while A Hard Day’s Night disappeared from where it initially ran, an old venue, now newly remodeled as a triple-screen cinema, the Royal Theatre began its turn. Decided not to plan anything as something always got in the way, if I did. Just took off last Tuesday on the spur of the moment, right after work, to make the 4:40 PM screening.
There I sat once more, like I had once at the Warner Huntington Park. Mid-hall, center row, in the comfy seats the art house offered the coterie this venerable place attracted. Watching the range of ticket buyers who’d done the same that day as they strolled in right after me. A good many my age, most younger. A few no older than I’d been when first gazing at The Beatles’ debut film. Everyone quieting even more after the trailers and cell phone warning passed.
Listening for the iconic opening chord that became the sound, musically and cinematically, still ringing around the globe…and forever in this fan’s soul.