Happy 50th to "A Hard Day's Night"
by David Soulsby, author of the novel "Somewhere in the Distance"
If ever a movie captured the true verve and essence of a rock band, it has to be
A Hard Day’s Night. What The Beatles were in the flesh is what you see on screen: four cheekily
confident, lively, mischievous young men on top of their musical game, producing pop songs of sublime
simplicity that were as catchy as any ever written. They knew they were good and it shows.
The film came out in the summer of 1964 and cemented The Beatles’ phenomenal hold on
the music scene, exposing them to an even bigger worldwide audience and declaring that they were undoubtedly
the best group around. It would be wrong to say that everyone loved them but there were few even among their
detractors who could deny their impact and importance in a decade that threw up such dramatic and historic
The man in the director’s chair was American-born Richard Lester. He’d arrived in
Britain in the early Fifties and worked on small budget television series and comedies that allowed him the
chance to experiment and improvise. In 1960 he concocted a short film for the iconic comedians The Goons,
which boasted Peter Sellers among its stars. : the movie was entitled The Running, Jumping & Standing
Still Film. It was a mad mix of mayhem, laugh-out-loud visual jokes and surreal humor, and it became a
cult item. I saw it with a group of school pals at a small cartoon cinema in London’s West End one wet
Saturday afternoon. It was a ray of sunshine. We loved it. It was so anarchic and silly. John Lennon in
particular was a fan, so it was fitting that when A Hard Day’s Night was planned it was Lester who
was at the helm. He had just the right offbeat outlook that was needed to showcase The Beatles in all their
I recall first watching A Hard Day’s Night at an afternoon showing. The
theatre was sparsely populated, with just a few people dotted around the auditorium. There were none of the
screaming fans that had created such a noisy atmosphere at many of the night-time viewings. And that was OK
by me as I could hear the songs in all their finery and fully appreciate the strangeness and absurdity of the
fun and frolics being played out in front of me without too many distractions. It was a joy to watch. I
caught up with it again some years later when it aired on TV and it hadn’t lost its sparkle, charm and appeal
: now, 50 years on, a digitally restored version is released and it really is a must see for those who first
saw it in the Sixties, so they can relive the moment, and also for those who weren’t around then but would
maybe like to see and hear what all the fuss was about.
The album was always among my favorites. I can still listen to Tell Me Why,
I Should Have Known Better, And I Love Her and Can’t Buy Me Love and it doesn’t
seem but a few days ago that they were first on the scene. That I feel is a true mark of great music. It
transcends time and mortality. It will always be there for someone to listen to, always be there to be
enjoyed and treasured.
Still on The Beatles theme, I just caught up with the musical Let It Be,
which features most of The Beatles fabulous hits from the very early days to the final curtain. The show
doesn’t spend too much time on the story line but the music more than makes up for that. It’s a ticket to
ride into the Sixties heyday and wallow in the nostalgia of yesterday. Close your eyes and it could really be
John, Paul, George and Ringo on stage. It’s enough to get you up on your feet, twisting and shouting! There
are superb renditions of I Want To Hold Your Hand, Ticket To Ride, A Day In The
Life, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, and, of course, Let It Be.
David Soulsby lives in Romford, Essex, England, and is now retired after 46 years as a journalist. During his career, he worked on local and national
newspapers and magazines, and in the Sixties met many of his musical heroes, including Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan,
Roy Orbison, Sonny Boy Williamson, James Brown and Mel Torme. He’s now freelancing as a writer
and proof-reader, working from home. He’s the author of Somewhere In The Distance, a novel
about four friends growing up in the