BBC2’s enjoying a bout of Beatlemania tonight and paying tribute to the group’s 1967 movie, The Magical Mystery Tour. While the channel will be airing the film (10:45pm), as well a new documentary about its making (9:45pm), the evening’s entertainment won’t, alas, stretch to any more of the Fab Four’s cinematic outings.
So, if you’re feeling inspired by the band’s psychedelic charabanc trip and want to check out some of their other offerings, here’s a brief guide to the Beatles in film.
A Hard Day’s Night
Made in 1964, A Hard Day’s Night is a fun, comedic farce that features appearances from some of Britain’s brightest acting talent of the day including Wilfrid Brambell and Derek Nimmo. As well as a top-notch soundtrack, the film marked a break with the type of corny musicals being made by Elvis and Cliff in previous years.
We gave it a five-star review and said: “[Director] Richard Lester's film is not just a homage to Buster Keaton-style slapstick and Busby Berkeley-style lavish spectacle; it's also a handbook of new-wave film techniques, from Federico Fellini and the nouvelle vague to Free Cinema and the Czech Film Miracle.”
The Fabs’ 1965 motion picture saw them move from black and white to colour in another madcap comedy. This time, Ringo’s come into possession of an ancient ceremonial ring coveted by an Eastern cult. With the inimitable Leo McKern (TV’s Rumpole of the Bailey) cast as the Beatles’ cultist antagonist and another superb soundtrack, Help! is bundles of fun.
Despite our in house reviewer calling the film “a disappointment after the exhilarating A Hard Day's Night,” we nevertheless gave it a four-star write-up and said: “the second Beatles feature is still hugely enjoyable.”
While the band’s 1968 animated adventure didn’t feature their voices, Yellow Submarine was regarded by the group as one of its best experiments in cinema. With a unique psychedelic look and suitably trippy set of songs, Yellow Submarine is an impressive imaginative feat and an artefact of the heady late 1960s.
We gave it a four-star review, described the film as an “amazing animated feature” and lauded it as “an endlessly inventive picture that blends 1960s psychedelia with such diverse styles as pop art and Art Deco.”
Let It Be
The last Beatles movie is the saddest of all, as Let It Be provides a film record of the band’s in-studio disintegration. Filmed over four weeks in 1969, Let It Be showcased the band recording and rehearsing songs for the Let It Be album, and featured footage of their famous rooftop concert. It’s been unavailable since the 1980s but its director Michael Lindsay-Hogg says it may get an official release in 2013…
We gave Let It Be four stars and said: "Astonishingly honest in its revelations, this underrated - and Oscar-winning - film provides a saddening, but pointedly intentional insight into the end of a dream."
If you fancy learning more fascinating facts about The Beatles, have a look at our Beatles A to Z