×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Beatles: The Lost Concert

Repackaging footage reportedly inaccessible for decades, "The Beatles: The Lost Concert" presents what's billed as the Fab Four's only available complete live show.

With:
With: Chuck Berry, Sid Bernstein, Louise Harrison, Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Albert Hammond Jr., Nick Valensi, Duffy, Mark Ronson, Mike Mitchell, Maureen Cleave, Ed Rudy, Tommy Roe, Bruce Spizer, Paul Gambaccini, Larry Kane, John B. Lynn, Barry Richards, Ron Oberman, Beverly Rubin, Jamie Heigel Leier, Naomi Banks.

Repackaging footage reportedly inaccessible for decades, “The Beatles: The Lost Concert” presents what’s billed as the Fab Four’s only available complete live show — their first U.S. one, played to 8,000 screaming teenagers at a Washington, D.C., sports arena in February 1964. The short set is heavily padded with archival footage of the era, plus worshipful responses from present-day musicians who have little of interest to say. The desultory results are being shown at theaters nationwide May 17 and May 22, following a world preem at Gotham’s Ziegfeld May 6; completists who miss those dates will doubtless make the home-format release a profitable one.

The show was also originally broadcast via closed circuit in theaters for two days, one month after the gig itself, reportedly drawing 2 million ticketbuyers to the tune of $4 million. That package presumably included materials beyond the Beatles’ half-hour performance; we don’t see opening acts the Caravelles, Chiffons and Tommy Roe here, though Roe is among the present-day interviewees.

Playing for their biggest audience at the time (though much larger ones were soon to come) on a short initial American trip, just after their first “Ed Sullivan Show” appearance, the Liverpool lads seem a bit nonplussed, perhaps in part because the Washington Coliseum was unsuitable as a music venue. There were no monitors to allow them to hear themselves, and the PA system was intended primarily for sports-event announcers. The sound quality here is highly variable, to say the least. Still, that’s better than most attendees got: As one recalls, unless you were seated in the front rows, you could only hear “the beat and a lot of screaming.”

The set opens with George Harrison fronting a cover of Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven,” then flows through early hits including “From Me to You,” “I Saw Her Standing There,” “All My Loving,” “Please Please Me,” “She Loves You” and “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.” Novelties include the close three-part harmonies that dominate the lesser-known “This Boy,” and Ringo Starr’s rare lead vocal on “I Wanna Be Your Man” — though his mike barely registers, and that may be a mercy. Throughout, there are cutaways to mostly female viewers in varying states of extremis, albeit sitting politely. (It is noted that most U.S. teens scarcely knew how to behave at a concert then, erring on the side of caution.) Visually, multicamera footage is on the level of most live-event TV coverage of the era, primitive by today’s standards.

All this will be manna to nostalgic loyalists, if only mildly impressive to anyone else. “Lost Concert” is probably not the ideal intro to the Beatles for later generations, as their repertoire was still fairly one-note, and what distinguished them then requires explanation now. To that end, several surviving business associates, journos and fans recall Beatlemania’s impact and the era in general as illustrated by the requisite archival materials. That’s OK as far as it goes, though underwhelming; few insights will be news to most viewers, some trivia aside, though the idea that the band benefited from media hunger for a happy news story, at a time when the mourning period for President Kennedy was due to end, is an interesting theory.

The pic’s biggest waste of space, however, comes in the form of celebrity musicians who are mostly shot watching the footage, presumably agog with adoration. Too bad almost none of them — including two Strokes, Aerosmith’s Steve Tyler and Joe Perry, Brit pop thrush Duffy and Chuck Berry himself — have anything remotely intelligent to say.

The Beatles: The Lost Concert

Production: An Iambic Media production for WPMC. Produced by Chris Hunt, Steve Cole. Executive producers, Larry Marion, Marty Marion. Directed by Steve Cole.

Crew: Camera (color/B&W, HD/video), Simon Wagen; editor, Paul Aviles; sound, Colin Bowes, Rob Freeman, Alex Herrera, Caleb Mose, Michael Stahr, Chuck Stanton, Nick Walker, Phitz Hearne; restoration, Richard Watson. Reviewed on DVD, San Francisco, May 1, 2012. Running time: 95 MIN.

With: With: Chuck Berry, Sid Bernstein, Louise Harrison, Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Albert Hammond Jr., Nick Valensi, Duffy, Mark Ronson, Mike Mitchell, Maureen Cleave, Ed Rudy, Tommy Roe, Bruce Spizer, Paul Gambaccini, Larry Kane, John B. Lynn, Barry Richards, Ron Oberman, Beverly Rubin, Jamie Heigel Leier, Naomi Banks.

More Film

  • Spider-Man: Far From Home trailer

    Film News Roundup: 'Spider-Man: Far From Home' Trailer Sets Sony Pictures Record

    In today’s film news roundup, “Spider-Man: Far From Home” sets a studio record, Chris Meledandri and Glenn Close are honored, an art-house streaming service is unveiled, and “Cliffs of Freedom” gets a release. TRAILER STATS The first “Spider-Man: Far From Home” trailer has set a record as the biggest digital launch in Sony Pictures history [...]

  • Frank Grillo Hell on the Border

    Frank Grillo to Star in the Thriller 'Hell on the Border'

    Frank Grillo is set to star in the action-thriller “Hell on the Border” with Wes Miller directing. Miller also penned the script with Curtis Nichouls, Henry Penzi, and Sasha Yelaun producing. Ron Perlman is also on board to co-star. Plot details are unknown at this time. Production is currently underway in Birmingham, Ala. More Reviews [...]

  • Lee Unkrich Variety Oscars Nominees Lunch

    'Toy Story 3,' 'Coco' Director Lee Unkrich to Exit Pixar After 25 Years

    Lee Unkrich, who won Academy Awards for “Toy Story 3” and “Coco,” is departing Pixar Animation Studios after 25 years to spend more time with his family. Unkrich joined Pixar in 1994 after working as an assistant editor in television on “Silk Stalkings” and “Renegade.” He served as editor on Pixar’s first feature, 1995’s “Toy [...]

  • Velvet Buzzsaw trailer

    Netflix Original Movies: What to Look Forward To in 2019

    Following the biggest fourth-quarter worldwide subscriber gain ever and some controversy around increased prices in the U.S., Netflix looks to keep its momentum going into 2019. From Jan. 18 through March, the streaming site will release 10 original films, including action-packed thrillers, a post-apocalyptic sci-fi, quirky comedies, inspirational dramas, an artistic horror movie and a viral [...]

  • Third 'Fantastic Beasts' Production Start Pushed

    Third 'Fantastic Beasts' Production Start Pushed Back Several Months

    Warner Bros. is pushing back the production start date of its third “Fantastic Beasts” movie several months from July to the late fall, a spokesperson said Friday. Actors have been notified about the change in dates. The untitled third “Fantastic Beasts” movie has not yet set a release date. “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find [...]

  • The Beatles Eight Days a Week

    Imagine's Documentary Arm Sets First-Look Pact With Apple (EXCLUSIVE)

    Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Documentaries has set a first-look pact with Apple to develop non-fiction features and series. The deal comes as Imagine is investing heavily in the premium non-fiction arena. The company in June recruited RadicalMedia veteran Justin Wilkes to head Imagine Documentaries as president. The deal suggests that Apple sees docu [...]

  • Walt Disney HQ LA

    Disney Unveils Financial Data for DTC Unit, Sets April 11 for Investor Presentation

    Disney has rejiggered its business segments for earnings reporting to make room for the new unit housing its global streaming operations. Disney on Friday released restated earnings for fiscal 2018, 2017 and 2016 to give investors and financial analysts better visibility into its spending on the launch of the Disney Plus, ESPN Plus and other [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content