The Beatles and Films
The Beatles had a
limited but largely successful film career beginning
with A Hard Day's Night (1964), a loosely scripted
comic farce, sometimes compared to the Marx Brothers
in style. It focused on their hectic touring lifestyle
and was directed in a black-and-white documentary
style by an up-and-coming Richard Lester, who
was already known for directing the television
version of the Goon Show.
In 1965 came Help!, a Technicolor
extravaganza shot in exotic locations with the
style of a James Bond spoof.
Magical Mystery Tour, a McCartney
idea adapted from Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters
LSD-oriented bus tour of the UK, was critically
slammed when it aired on British television in
1967, but it is now considered a cult classic.
The animated Yellow Submarine followed
in 1968 but had little input from the Beatles
themselves save for a live-action epilogue and
the contribution of four new songs (including
one holdover from the Sgt. Pepper sessions, "Only
A Northern Song"). Nonetheless it was acclaimed
for its boldly innovative graphic style and clever
humour along with the soundtrack. The Beatles
are said to have been pleased with the result
and attended its highly publicised London premiere.
Let It Be was an ill-fated documentary
of the band in terminal decline, shot over an
extended period in 1969. The music from this formed
an album of the same name; although recorded before
Abbey Road, after contractual disputes along with
significant and controversial tinkering by producer
Phil Spector, this album was released in 1970.