The 60s Official Site


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 changes.

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 manic glory.  

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 SoulsbyDavid Soulsby lives in Romford, Essex, England, and is now Somewhere in the Distanceretired 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 Sixties.