For, July 4, 2014

The Beatles were already rock-music superstars on the cusp of worldwide superduperstardom when their first movie, "A Hard Day's Night" (1964, b/w), pushed them even higher, thanks to a young director named Richard Lester.

The story goes that United Artists hired Lester to helm the Fab Four's first cinematic venture at the urging of the Beatles, who were quite taken with Lester's comedy short starring Peter Sellers, "The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film" (nominated for an Oscar in 1960).

The studio was fine with that because it just wanted a movie with the Beatles, expecting something akin to those that had come before, like a silly "Beach Party" movie, perhaps, but with lots of Beatles songs.

What they got was a film embraced not only by Beatles fans but their parents, their younger siblings and even jaded American movie critics. Nationally respected Village Voice critic Andrew Sarris famously wrote that " ‘A Hard Day's Night' is the ‘Citizen Kane' of jukebox musicals."


For the uninitiated, "A Hard Day's Night" has youthful John, Paul, George and Ringo going through the paces as they travel on a train and then by car to London for a show and a meet-and-greet with reporters, with Paul's grandfather (Wilfrid Brambell) in tow. What follows is clever banter, myriad sight gags and occasional surreal music-video breaks set to some of the group's biggest hits up to 1964.

The result is still a crowd-pleaser 50 years later. So if you haven't seen it, get down to the Tower Theater in Salt Lake City right away.


"A Hard Day's Night" is playing there for a week, but who knows if it will play beyond that?