This article was last updated on May 26, 2022
By Stephen Pate – Five months after The Beatles conquered America on the Ed Sullivan Show, United Artists released the comedy “A Hard Day’s Night“, considered by critics one of the top 100 films of all time.
I have waited years for this movie to be restored and re-released. Now we get to enjoy it again.
For the 50th anniversary of its release in July 1964, the movie has been painstakingly and beautifully restored for both theatrical and home viewing as A Hard Day’s Night (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray + DVD). The reissue contains both the Blu-ray and DVD disks plus plenty of additional material.
The black and white film, musical comedy perfectly captures the excitement, wit and exuberance of the most popular rock group of all time. The Beatles were changing rock and roll forever and we knew it.
The week it opened in 1964, my older brother and I saw the film together and we were filled with excitement and joy. Within 2 weeks I had seen the movie 5 times and went on the view it 30 times before it was taken out of circulation in 1967 or 1968.
Dylan later sang “How does it feel?” We felt happy and excited watching this movie.
To create the movie, The Beatles’ producers hired noted director Richard Lester who cut his teeth directing Peter Sellers, The Goon Show and the hilarious classic “The Running Jumping and Standing Still Film.”
The Scottish playwright Alun Owen was hired not so much to write a script as to capture the natural irreverent wit of The Beatles. In one scene, a reporter asks Ringo “Are you a mod or rocker?” to which her replies “I’m not. I’m a mocker.”
The title was just one of those malapropisms that rolled off Ringo’s tongue. “‘It’s been a hard day…’ and I looked around and saw it was dark so I said, ‘…night!”
New musical soundtrack
The Beatles wrote 11 new songs for the movie.
“A Hard Day’s Night”
“I Should Have Known Better”
“I Wanna Be Your Man”
“Don’t Bother Me” (Harrison)
“All My Loving”
“If I Fell”
“Can’t Buy Me Love”
“And I Love Her”
“I’m Happy Just to Dance with You”
“Ringo’s Theme (This Boy)”
“Tell Me Why”
The soundtrack album A Hard Day’s Night [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] also includes the earlier hit song “She Loves You”. The album was # 1 in the UK in July 1964 and spent 14 weeks at the Billboard Chart # 1 position as The Beatles 4th US album.
“A Hard Day’s Night” is almost universally agreed to be on of the top films of all time. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 99% Fresh Tatometer.
“A Hard Day’s Night” “rejected the status quo with an irreverent, quick-cutting documentary style that could fairly be described as mod, rocking and mocking.” wrote Elizabeth Weitzman in the New York Daily News.
“The results remain pop perfection.” Wall Street Journal
“The whole movie is an ecstatic mix of serendipity and invention. The Beatles were ready for their cinematic breakthrough.” Orange County Register
“Let’s talk about joy, and about wistfulness, because one so often trails the other, and both are woven into the DNA of A Hard Day’s Night.” Village Voice
Obviously I love this movie. It is a classic, one of the best movies of all time because it lifts up the viewer to a level of joy they were not in before. It also has technical aspects of film making that have been studied and copied for 5 decades by other film makers. For instance, kike them or not, The Monkees would not have been created without this movie.
Criterion Collection 50th Anniversary Restoration
Criterion has been lovingly and studiously restoring the world’s great movies since 1984. Criterion created “The Director’s Cut” release of movies and the special edition with copious extra materials.
Until DVD’s became popular, Criterion Collection movies could only be obtained as LaserDisc in limited numbers for prices from $80 to $250. Back in the day I considered a new Criterion Collection release to be an exciting event.
“A Hard Day’s Night (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray + DVD)” has received a meticulous restoration and re-release. “The year-and-a-half-long restoration process culminates in both a recently-released dual format Blu-ray and DVD edition and a nationwide theatrical release this weekend by Janus Films (Criterion’s theatrical distribution wing) to commemorate the film’s 50th anniversary. Audiences will now get to enjoy the movie—a somewhat exaggerated, semi-autobiographical musical-comedy that features some of the Fab Four’s biggest hits—at home or on the big screen. Here’s how Criterion restored the classic film.” You can read the whole story in the article How the Criterion Collection Restored ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ for a Theater Near You
By Stephen Pate, NJN Network