A Look at Criterion’s A Hard Day’s Night

8 Jul

By James Shaw (The Wind Up Geek) and Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

AHardDaysNightJ: There is something to be said for smaller theatres who get deprived of big name films because distribution companies don’t take them seriously. For The Vic Theatre, it is just another day surviving in the jungle. In the jungle the mighty dollar wins and that is as it should be but should community theatres be left to nibble on corporate bread crumbs as a result. Even during this cold war of cinema distribution, these theatres can still provide their own unique entertainment.

July 4th was the 50th anniversary of the release of A Hard Day’s Night, the film that was to introduce the Beatles to the world. It is hard to believe that 50 years have passed. It is even harder to believe that turning my room into a shrine to the fab four while wearing Beatles boots seemed not that long ago in comparison.

E: To see this film return to theatre has to be a delight for hard-core fans.

But for me, I had to put to scrutiny the remastering job done to it. Select theatres across North America are getting an advance copy to screen before it releases to video by Criterion on July 21st. Thankfully, in Victoria, BC., fans relived a day in the life of the band just as the mania was exploding.

The digital print is very lustrous with the silver and grey tones being accented on the big screen. However, a few out-of-place fibres could be noticed for those who are eagle-eyed. In this film’s case, there were a few spots that I noticed that could be fine-tuned. The audio, however, jumps a few decibels when the Fab Four start performing. Perhaps the issue is in the track’s transition from mono to stereo (or surround in the home release’s case).

J: This can be annoying for those who plan on buying the DVD release and want to turn the volume up just to hear the dialogue.  I had no complaints otherwise.

Although Help! (1965) is my favourite Beatles film, I can not deny what A Hard Day’s Night means to cinema goers like myself. the United Kingdom was a hive of activity in the 1960’s that made it one of the cultural meccas of the world. And Richard Lester’s film in itself is a time capsule of that era. It is a delight to watch not only the shooting locations (some which are gone) but for viewing the people and trends of its time. my case in point, when the Beatles turn a street corner to get back to a television studio, you see a woman sneaking a peek of the boys from a shop window.

E: That was probably an unscripted moment that the filmmakers chose to keep in. It’s those nuances which makes this film fresh, and when it predated the British Invasion into America and influenced one particular television show — yes, I grew up with The Monkees (along with Queen and KISS), over The Beatles.

At least I’m part Brit. I adore Davy Jones’ music; he was a holdout of that Beatles generation for me with his version of the crop top haircut.

J: The cast in this film is top-notch with comedienne Anna Quayle (Father Charlie), Norman Rossington (Curry and Chips), Derek Guyler (Sykes) playing a police sergeant who himself was with the RAF police during the second world war, and the Beatles long-suffering not-so-nice-guy Victor Spinetti. Spineti would eventually be cast in the Beatles second outing, Help!.

E: I particularly liked John McCartney (Wilfrid Brambell), Paul’s fictional grandfather. He really provided the best laugh out loud moments for the film. When Brambell is best known for Steptoe and Son, that was one moment of spot-on casting.

J: I was raised in a British household so that television comedy was part of the required viewing. It helped to open the door to my love and appreciation for UK television, radio and film.

The Beatles were merely players in the grand scheme of things with A Hard Day’s Night and Help!. I would even come to appreciate their solo outings How I Won the War (John Lennon), The Magic Christian (Ringo Starr), Give My Regards To Broad Street (Paul McCartney), and Withnail and I (George Harrison).

And A Hard Day’s Night isn’t the only film coming to the Vic Theatre. On July 8th will see the premiere of A Brony Tale. This documentary looks at the people who are fans of My Little Pony. On July 25th Ed recommends seeing Life Itself, directed by Steve James (Hoop Dreams). This retrospective offers an unapologetic look at the life of Roger Ebert, one of the most influential movie critics of the last century.

Trailer Credit: Movieclips Trailers.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: