A Hard Day’s Night, film review

A Hard Day’s Night (U). Dir. Richard Lester. Starring: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Wilfrid Brambell.  89 mins

As invigorating and funny now as it was on its original release half a century ago, A Hard Day’s Night offers both a perfect showcase for the Beatles and an intriguing snapshot of fast-changing, early-1960s British society. Richard Lester, the director, was a master of dynamic and zany film-making, full of running and jumping.

One of the first shots we see is of the Beatles fleeing their teenage fans; from there, Lester never lets the tempo slip. He is helped by Alun Owen’s irreverent and self-reflexive screenplay, which sees John, Paul, Ringo and George heading down from Liverpool to London to appear on a concert on a TV show.

Accompanying them, and blissfully trying to steal scenes from under their noses, is Wilfrid Brambell, of Steptoe and Son fame, as Paul’s “very clean” and mischievous grandfather. The film, re-released in a new 4K digital restoration, can’t help but have tremendous poignance given everything that has happened, for better or worse, to the band members in the intervening 50 years.

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