A Hard Day's Night
is "among the five best movie musicals I've ever seen," says Roger Ebert, "right up there with Singin' in the Rain
." That ringing endorsement of the most famous film from rock's most famous group, the Beatles, is only one of the testimonials recorded in You Can't Do That: The Making of "A Hard Day's Night."
This engrossing 1994 documentary is hosted by Phil Collins, who actually appeared in the original among a crowd of frenzied teenagers at the theater where the songs were filmed. There's plenty of behind-the-scenes footage, and producer Walter Shenson, director Richard Lester, and screenwriter Alun Owen, among others, contribute comments, which are occasionally punctuated by brief clips from the film (à la HBO's 1990s series Dream On
). Micky Dolenz, Roger McGuinn, and Beatles fans are also interviewed, and George Harrison's voice is heard briefly. Filmed at the height of Beatlemania shortly after their 1964 trip to the U.S., A Hard Day's Night
was conceived as an excuse to release a soundtrack album
. But while nine songs were written, only seven were used in the film, and for many fans the chief item of interest here will be the inclusion of one unused performance, "You Can't Do That," shown partially during the documentary, then in its entirety as an epilogue. --David Horiuchi
The DVD of Help!
includes a text description of the 1996 restoration, plus 2 minutes of newsreels and 4.5 minutes of promotional footage (including black-and-white footage from the film set and from the royal world premiere, and color and black-and-white stills from the set with Beatle voice-overs). The DVD of Magical Mystery Tour
includes 3 minutes of black-and-white newsreels featuring the Baker Street psychedelic shop and Maharishi Mahash Yogi's meditation retreat. Each of the above DVDs includes trailers from the other three films included in the set, plus A Hard Day's Night
also includes its own trailer, but curiously Magical Mystery Tour
does not. The Beatles: The First U.S. Visit
and You Can't Do That: The Making of "A Hard Day's Night"
include trivia quizzes on, respectively, the Beatles' 1964 U.S. trip and A Hard Day's Night