By Stephen Pate – Criterion Collection created the concept of additional materials in home movies. Criterion has prepared an impressive array of Beatles bits for fans with A Hard Day’s Night (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray + DVD)
While many people will collect “A Hard Day’s Night” for The Beatles, the movie also has significant innovations in modern comedy and musicals.
Restoring a 50-year-old movie is a complex and tedious job. Film decays and even the masters are not perfect. The restoration team did a huge job to get it right.
The restoration was done as 4K digital video to get the highest quality image. The director Richard Lester, since deceased, approved the process.
There are three audio options—a mono soundtrack (original) as well as new stereo and 5.1 surround mixes supervised by sound producer Giles Martin, the son of original Beatles producer George Martin, at Abbey Road Studios. On the discs the sound is in uncompressed mono (highest quality), uncompressed stereo, and DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray.
Few people today realize how influential Director Richard Lester was in modern cinema. American-born, he learned his craft working with Peter Sellers and The Goon Show, who were forerunners for comedy shows like Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
Lester believed audiences were capable of getting the jokes in movies faster than American television shows and they did not need a laugh track. With “A Hard Day’s Night” he sped up the tempo of the verbal and physical humor so that you could not get all the jokes during one viewing. Audiences were literally laughing through the next gag and took two or more times through the film to get all the jokes.
After Hard Day’s Night, Lester went on to direct the hilarious comedy The Knack… And How to Get It. The Knack defied you to get all the jokes at once. It didn’t take other movie producers and directors long to see the advantage of more densely pack editing that we accept today.
• Audio commentary featuring cast and crew (dual-format only)
•In Their Own Voices, a new piece combining 1964 interviews with The Beatles with behind-the-scenes footage and photos
•“You Can’t Do That”: The Making of “A Hard Day’s Night,” a 1994 documentary by producer Walter Shenson including an outtake performance by The Beatles
•Things They Said Today, a 2002 documentary about the film featuring Director Richard Lester, music producer George Martin, screenwriter Alun Owen, and cinematographer Gilbert Taylor
•Picturewise, a new piece about Richard Lester’s early work, featuring a new audio interview with the director
•The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film (1960), Lester’s Oscar-nominated short which got The Beatles to ask for Richard Lester as their director
•Anatomy of a Style, a new piece on Richard Lester’s methods
•New interview with author Mark Lewisohn
•PLUS: An essay by critic Howard Hampton and excerpts from a 1970 interview with Lester
By Stephen Pate, NJN Network