DVD Review: A Hard Day’s Night

The Beatles are possibly the most well known pop group in history, but when A Hard Day’s Night was released they were only on the cusp of world domination. The band received many offers to make a film, but didn’t want to merely be the musical accompaniment to the action taking place on screen; they wanted to be the focus. Writer Alun Owens spent time with the band, penning a script which reflected the daily realities of the group.

John, Paul, George and Ringo are on the train bound for a show. Paul has to bring his grandfather along (Wilfrid Brambell), but don’t trust him for one second; that man is pure mischief. They are hounded by fans on arrival, hiding out in a hotel before going to a theatre to do a live recording. Along the way their management Norm (Norman Rossington) and Shake (John Junkin) attempt to keep the lads in check, stop them wandering off, keep the fans at bay and prevent Paul’s grandfather from getting up to no good.

A Hard Day’s Night still remains one of the best musical films ever made. It feels ad-libbed but in reality is tightly scripted, Owens being nominated for the best screenplay Oscar was his efforts. The script conveys a sense of confinement and claustrophobia, reflecting the bubble ‘The Fab Four’ were increasingly living in. Shot in black and white giving it a timeless feel, A Hard Day’s Night wouldn’t work without the strong charisma and personalities of the band themselves. They are clearly having a whale of a time which translates into the bonhomie on screen.

Director Richard Lester had previously worked on The Goon Show and that sense of surrealism and the bizarre is a major component of A Hard Day’s Night. His innovative brand of oddball filmmaking has been imitated widely and his quick-cutting style can be seen as a forerunner to modern pop videos. There is an impressive and informative array of bonus features on the disc.

A Hard Day’s Night is a wonderful ride and will leave you grinning from ear to ear.

Bonus Features

• In Their Own Voices – a new piece combining 1964 interviews with The Beatles with behind-the-scenes footage and photos
• You Can’t Do That: The Making of ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ – a documentary by producer Walter Shenson including an outtake performance by The Beatles
• Things They Said Today, a documentary about the film featuring director Richard Lester music producer George Martin, screenwriter Alun Owen and cinematographer Gilbert Taylor
• Picturewise – a new piece about Richard Lester‘s early work featuring a new audio interview with the director
• Anatomy of a Style – a new piece on Richard Lester‘s methods
• New interview with author Mark Lewisohn
• Audio commentary with cast and crew
• New 50th Anniversary trailer

A Hard Day’s night is released on Blu-ray and DVD by Second Sight on July 21

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