- Actors: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr
- Directors: Richard Lester
- Format: NTSC
- Language: English
- Region: Region A/1
- Number of discs: 3
- MPAA Rating:
- Studio: Criterion
- Release Date: June 24 2014
- Run Time: 87 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 23 customer reviews
- ASIN: B00J2PQZEY
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #17,013 in Movies & TV Shows (See Top 100 in Movies & TV Shows)
Criterion Collection: A Hard Day's Night [Blu-ray]
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Meet the Beatles! Just one month after they exploded onto the U.S. scene with their Ed Sullivan Show appearance, John, Paul, George, and Ringo began working on a project that would bring their revolutionary talent to the big screen. A Hard Day’s Night, in which the bandmates play slapstick versions of themselves, captured the astonishing moment when they officially became the singular, irreverent idols of their generation and changed music forever. Directed with raucous, anything-goes verve by Richard Lester (Help!) and featuring a slew of iconic pop anthems, including the title track, “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “I Should Have Known Better,” and “If I Fell,” A Hard Day’s Night, which re-conceived the movie musical and exerted an incalculable influence on the music video, is one of the most deliriously entertaining movies of all time.
New 4K digital film restoration, approved by director Richard Lester, with three audio options—a monaural soundtrack, as well as stereo and 5.1 surround mixes supervised by sound producer Giles Martin. Audio commentary featuring various members of the film’s cast and crew. In Their Own Voices, a new piece combining interviews with the Beatles from 1964 with behind-the-scenes footage and photos. You Can’t Do That: The Making of “A Hard Day’s Night,” a 1994 documentary program by producer Walter Shenson. Things They Said Today, a 2002 documentary about the film featuring Lester, music producer George Martin, writer Alun Owen, cinematographer Gilbert Taylor, and others. New piece about Lester’s early work, featuring a new audio interview with the director. The Running Jumping and Standing Still Film (1959), Lester’s Oscar-nominated short featuring Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan. Anatomy of a Style, a new piece on Lester’s approach to editing. New interview with Mark Lewisohn, author of Tune In: The Beatles: All These Years—Volume One. Deleted scenes. Trailers. One Blu-ray and Two DVDs, with all content available in both formats. Plus: a booklet featuring an essay by critic Howard Hampton. More!
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Top Customer Reviews
As for this blu-ray release, a previous blu-ray release (released in 2009 by Alliance) was available, but is now out of print. It had 1080i video and 5.1 DTS HD-MA audio. The video and audio on that release was OK, but could've been better (mostly the video quality).
For this NEW blu-ray release from Criterion, the movie is getting a brand new 4K film restoration and a new 5.1 DTS HD-MA and PCM (uncompressed) mono audio tracks. Features included are the following:
---Audio commentary featuring various members of the film's cast and crew
---In Their Own Voices, a new piece combining interviews with the Beatles from 1964 with behind-the-scenes footage and photos
---You Can't Do That: The Making of "A Hard Day's Night," a 1994 documentary program by producer Walter Shenson
---Things They Said Today, a 2002 documentary about the film featuring Lester, music producer George Martin, writer Alun Owen, cinematographer Gilbert Taylor, and others
---New piece about Lester's early work, featuring a new audio interview with the director
---The Running Jumping and Standing Still Film(1959), Lester's Oscar-nominated short featuring Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan
---Anatomy of a Style, a new piece on Lester's approach to editing
---New interview with Mark Lewisohn, author of Tune In: The Beatles: All These Years--Volume One
---PLUS: An essay by critic Howard Hampton
The audio is very much clearer too, particularly the dialogue, at least if you listen to the stereo track. The mono track sounds like the optical soundtrack of the film, cleaned up some. I don't have a surround system, so I can't tell you about the surround. Thankfully, they avoided the gimmicky attempt to re-channel the music tracks, like on the previous Alliance release of A Hard Day's Night. The soundtrack on this Criterion DVD is done right, finally.
Just so you know...there's a mixing oversight during If I Fell. About 2/3 of the way through the song, Paul's backup vocal goes way out of sync. This is a flubbed vocal on the original recording, but was carefully mixed out of the original recording releases. I guess Giles Martin didn't notice this mistake. It's not too obtrusive though..really.
The movie still stands the test of time. Sure, it's from that mid-sixties era, with the swingin' hairstyles and clothes. But it's great fun, very entertaining, and moves along nicely.
The Feature Film:
An Almost Ideal Black & White Situation 'Picturewise':
Visually speaking, the Criterion Blu-Ray Presentation is positively STUNNING, with amazing depth and clarity, that to my eyes looks akin to viewing a near pristine 35mm Print! This is very simply, the best Visual presentation of this Classic that I've ever seen!
With that said, there are possibly a couple of visually related minor caveats. Upon rechecking my 2002 Miramax DVD, I noticed slightly less cropping on the top of the Screen during the A HARD DAY'S NIGHT Opening Titles at its 1.66:1 Aspect Ratio, than there is with Criterion's 1.75:1 Aspect Ratio Setup, though the former also has marginal cropping on the sides. From what I've read, Films during the early to mid 1960's were commonly released in the UK at the 1.66:1 Aspect Ratio, while 1.75:1 was more common in the U.S. during that same period. Thus, it appears that for the New Restoration, the U.S. Version prevailed. The second is only a possible caveat because I'm not certain that the A WALTER SHENSON PRODUCTION Introduction Card that only appears on the Miramax Version is original, though to my eyes, it does appear to be. In any case, I will state that in my opinion, the Criterion Version does seem to begin a tad abruptly (Only for the lack of any Pre-Opening!), though not enough to be jarring.
Overall Visual Evaluation: 9.5/10. I would have preferred the UK Aspect, and the original United Artists Opening Logo would have also been a nice touch. However, even with the very slight Aspect Ratio issue, I still consider Criterion's overall Visual presentation of A HARD DAY'S NIGHT to be the best (Especially the Blu-Ray Version!) that I've ever seen on Home Video.
Get Back 'The Sound':
If the overall superior Visual presentation isn't enough to persuade owners of previous A HARD DAY'S NIGHT Video Releases to purchase the Criterion Blu-Ray/DVD versions, in my opinion, as great as its Visuals are, it's the restored Audio that really makes this edition a must purchase for even this Classic's most casual Fans!
Regarding the Audio Restoration, I cannot fully comment on the 5.1 Surround Sound (Though it does sound great on our Flat Screen TV!), as our Entertainment Setup lacks in that area, and where A HARD DAY'S NIGHT is concerned, I really don't care since it wasn't originally released in that state, anyway! What I do care about however, is the obvious painstaking effort that was taken in restoring the Soundtrack to its original Theatrically run state! Because I only saw this Film on TV once in the 1970's when I was 12 years old, I had no real memory of the original Soundtrack and just assumed the Restorations from the 1980's on got this right, and never considered that some sounds originally present (Such as Screaming from Beatlemaniacs!) were eliminated by the Stereo Overdubbing, though the Overdubs themselves were obvious enough. Besides the 5.1 Surround, there are also Stereo 2.0 and original Monaural Sound options. Big kudos go to George Martin's Son, Gil for his considerable effort behind this "Fab" Audio Restoration!
Overall Audio Evaluation: 10/10. I simply cannot see (Or rather, hear!) how the Audio Restoration could have been made any better than it has here! Back are the Screams that have been missing at least since the now notorious 1980's Audio Restorations, and gone are the in retrospect, annoying "Roll Offs" that accompanied the Stereo Musical Overdubs! Also, the fact that this set provides three Audio options, including the original Monophonic for the purists, in addition to the 2.0 Stereo and 5.1 Surround selections, should satisfy all auditory preferences!
The Bonus Features:
I very much appreciate the inclusion of the 1994 Phil Collins Hosted "YOU CAN'T DO THAT": THE MAKING OF A HARD DAY'S NIGHT, as its absence from the 2002 Miramax DVD Release was one of my biggest disappointments, along with the lack of a Commentary Track, despite some promotional ads that stated the inclusion of one at the time of the Miramax Release! Could this have been the present Commentary Track (Taken from material produced in 2002!) that's now included on the new Criterion Release that perhaps didn't make the Miramax 2 DVD Set because it couldn't be prepared in time? Speaking of the Miramax Version, its original THINGS THEY SAID TODAY documentary also appears within the Criterion Set. One thing the Miramax Set has over Criterion's are the many exclusive A HARD DAY'S NIGHT Cast Member Video Profiles (My guess is Criterion didn't have the rights for these!), which unfortunately means that it won't be easy for me to part with the former!
Probably my biggest disappointment regarding the Bonus Features is the awful looking (In my opinion!) deleted "YOU CAN'T DO THAT" Film Clip that appears at the end of the Phil Collins Hosted Documentary. While I'll give benefit of the doubt to the possibility that an original Widescreen Version no longer exists (Or perhaps was never cropped from the Matte 1.37:1 Aspect, as it wasn't ultimately included within the Film?), did this really have to be made to look as though it had been put through the Video equivalent of a primitive Microsoft Paint Program? I would have been quite happy to have this in its original state, instead. YEECH!
One item that didn't make the Criterion Set is the "I'll Cry Instead" Prologue that was first played in Theaters during A HARD DAY'S NIGHT'S 1982 Re-release run. I have read that Richard Lester apparently didn't like this song and that was supposedly why it didn't make the Film's Soundtrack (Though it is on the UK Album Soundtrack.) the first time out. Perhaps this was left off the 2014 issue in order to get the Director's approval? I would also rather have seen the original 1964 UK and U.S. Theatrical Trailers be included in addition to, or instead of the 2000 and 2014 Trailers. This might also have been a good place for the aforementioned prologue.
The Bonus Features that were specifically prepared for this set are well put together and in my opinion, make for worthwhile viewing, with "IN THEIR OWN VOICES" being especially insightful!
Overall Bonus Features Evaluation: 9/10.
Overall Evaluation: 9.5/10
For those Beatlephiles who think that they don't need the Criterion Blu-Ray or even DVD because they already own a prior DVD/Blu-Ray issue seriously ought to rethink this stance! This isn't just another run of the mill, heck it's an Anniversary, so we'll reissue this and make a few quick bucks! This Restoration (Unlike a lot of others!) actually richly deserves to be referred to in that fashion! 50 years on, A HARD DAY'S NIGHT finally looks AND sounds as it should!
Simply put, I cannot recommend this set highly enough!
By the way, the Blu-Ray/DVD Set also includes an 80 Page Booklet that has some great Black & White and Color Photos, valuable information regarding the Video and Audio Transfers, and a 55 Page Section that contains a 1970 interview with A HARD DAY'S NIGHT Director Richard Lester!