A Hard Day’s Night is a wacky, offbeat piece of filming, charged with vitality, and inventiveness by director Dick Lester, slickly lensed and put over at a fair lick. No attempt has been paid to build the Beatles up as Oliviers; they are at their best when the pic has a misleading air of off-the-cuff spontaneity.
Running at 83 minutes, in black and white, it keeps Beatles within their ability. Alun Owen’s screenplay merely attempts to portray an exaggerated 36 hours in the lives of the Beatles. But, though exaggerated, the thin story lines gives a shrewd idea of the pressure and difficulties under which they work and live.
Four set off by train to keep a live television date and, before taking off by helicopter for their next stint, they have some rum adventures. A skirmish with the police, mobbing by hysterical fans, then a press conference, riotous moments in a tavern, a jazz cellar, a gambling club and at TV rehearsals all work into the crazy tapestry and offer the Beatles a chance to display their sense of humor and approach to life.
To give the almost documentary storyline a boost scriptwriter Owen has introduced Paul’s grandfather, a mischief making mixer with an eye on the main chance. Played by Wilfrid Brambell with sharp perception, his presence is a great buffer for the boys’ throwaway sense of comedy.
[In 1982, pic was reissued with an extra song, ‘I’ll Cry Instead’, added at the start, and all other songs remixed in stereo.]
1964: Nominations: Best Story & Screenplay, Adapted Music Score