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Thursday, 23 March 2017

Hard Day's Night (1964) [Guest review by Reecey.]

Another guest review! Honestly, I could get used to this middle-of-the-week day off.

Hard Day's Night (1964)

[Guest review by Reecey.]

Hard Day’s Night is a film depicting a ‘normal’ day for The Beatles, but in reality is exactly as much fluff as Spice World, which isn’t a surprise since the latter was clearly inspired by it.

One of my favourite things about this film is the piece of meta humour that shows up within the first five minutes of the film and is continued throughout the whole thing. The source of the meta humour coming from the actor that they got to play Paul’s grand-dad.

This is a man named Wilfrid Brambell, and his most well known role at the time was that of Albert Steptoe in the hit series Steptoe and Son. That was a dark sitcom about a father and son rag and bone man operation in perpetual hard times.

So the joke that is repeated throughout Hard Day’s Night is an inversion of Harold Steptoe’s admonishment that his father is ‘a dirty old man’,with characters mentioning, sometimes right out of nowhere, that his grand-dad is very clean.

In fact, there is a very Mitchell and Webb moment with John and a character called Shake, where John insists that he’s clean in a strange and disjointed way, and Shake agrees in bewilderment.

And then Norm, their road manager, randomly says it too moments after meeting him.

If you have no idea who the actor is, then watching this film is an almost surreal experience, where the cleanliness of some random, crotchety, old man is constantly being reinforced.

It’s like being introduced into a cult.

(By the way, the introduction of Norm is where the rare photo of John Lennon sniffing coke comes from.)

Editor's note: I want everyone to know that the file title for this photo is
'John Lennon cokehead' as if the visual pun wasn't bad enough.

Although it’s fairly surreal without factoring that in, the very next thing that happens is a stuffy, bowler hatted, probably a banker, businessman shows up, is negative amounts of fun, and then the Fab Four proceed to troll him.

Including by getting out of the train, procuring a bicycle and running/riding alongside it asking for their ball back. Then they’re back on the train like they never left it.

Then after that Norm’s giving Shake a hard time for being taller than him, and Paul’s grandad is egging on the whole thing.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, really, the peak, as far as I’m concerned is when John disappears out of a bath, giving Norm the shock of his life, only to appear, mostly dry beside him to admonish him for wasting time.

John likes to give Norm a hard time, it seems, as later on Norm bemoans that it’s a battle of nerves between the two of them, and that he knows he can’t win.

To be honest, it’s clear at this point that if I try to talk about all the weird and bizarre happenings in this film, we’ll be here all day. It’s chock full of them.

So let’s take a moment to talk about the music, man.

Let’s get this right out of the way, a shockingly large amount of the music in this film just isn’t that great.

Yes, it’s got Hard Day’s Night and a few other classics, like Can’t Buy Me Love, but this film is from 1964, most of the Beatles’ best music just did not exist at this point, so prepare for long scenes of nothing much interesting with background music that you’ve likely never heard before.

The performance that the film is leading up to (despite not really having much in the way of plot) covers songs that we’ve already heard earlier on in the film, and they’re not much more engaging the second time around. Thankfully, though, that segment does end with She Loves You, which is one of my personal favourites.

Now, it wouldn’t be one of my reviews if I didn’t bring up something socially conscious at some point.

So this time, it’s back to race. Unlike Gideon’s Day, I’m pretty sure that this film does have at least one person in it who isn’t white. I believe that one of the audience members at the end was South Asian, which still seems like a rather low figure in 1960s London, but, you know, it’s more than none.

However, that’s just scorekeeping at this point, this is a perpetual issue with things of this sort of age.

No, the problem here is when Ringo is taken to a police station (don’t ask) and the copper who took him there says to the duty sergeant ‘Yeah, he’s a right little aboriginal’.

Double you.



If I didn’t have any context, I would have no idea what that was supposed to even mean. But I do, so it’s clearly bad.

I know that the duty sergeant said that he sounded like a savage, but why was this considered an appropriate response?!

Because it was 1964, that’s why.

Still, I can’t say that I’m not disappointed.

I’d still recommend this film, for it’s strange surrealist quality, if nothing else.

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