In 1964, the Beatles starred in A Hard Day’s Night, a zany comedy featuring a soundtrack of Beatles music that was immediately recognized as a classic and has gone on to become one of the most influential musical films ever made. But their second film, Help!, which premiered on July 29, 1965, at the London Pavilion in London’s ritzy West End, was not greeted as enthusiastically.
But time has aged the second Beatles movie well, and the madcap comedy-adventure, which included seven then-new Beatles tunes that have since become standards, including “Ticket to Ride,” “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away” and the brilliant title tune “Help!,” is now thought of as an important landmark in its own right. Contemporary filmmakers, including Spike Lee and John Landis, cite Help! as an inspiration for their own approach to movie making.
In fact, the Rotten Tomatoes site now gives Help! a 91 percent positive rating from critics, and an admirable 87 percent favorable from audiences. But in contrast to A Hard Day’s Night, the film is not widely seen or distributed more than a half-century after its initial release. The Beatles’ second movie saw its United States premiere on August 25, 1965.
There were several other significant differences between A Hard Day’s Night and Help!, the most obvious being that while the first Beatles film was shot in black and white, Help! was filmed entirely in color.
A Hard Day’s Night presented a fictionalized, but not entirely unrealistic account of the Beatles’ daily existence at the beginning of the Beatlemania phenomenon. Help! abandoned all attempts at realism, placing the Beatles in a far-flung, outrageous adventure, spanning the globe from the Bahamas to Switzerland in a lighthearted parody of the British spy movie genre that was hugely popular at the time.
Now, courtesy of the site DailyMoton.com, the entire Beatles film Help! may be viewed on this page, below.
But perhaps the biggest difference between the first and second Beatles films is that by their own account, between the making of the two movies, The Beatles — John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr — made an important discovery that changed their lives, and that was marijuana. In fact, they enjoyed the drug, which at that time was still a novelty in Britain and the United States, so much that they shot Help! while in what they, themselves, called “a haze of marijuana.”
The American-born director, Richard Lester, directed both of the first two Beatles movies.
Though the movie itself was lighthearted and even campy, and it was a clear influence on the now-iconic American TV shows, Batman and The Monkees, which hit the airwaves less than a year after the release of Help!, the title song was penned by Lennon. According to the songwriter himself, the song was anything but funny, representing his deeply troubled emotional state at the time.
“Most people think of it as a fast rock ‘n’ roll song. I didn’t realize it at the time — I just wrote the song because I was commissioned to write it for the movie — but later I knew, really I was crying out for help. ‘Help!’ was about me, although it was a bit poetic. I think everything comes out in the songs,” Lennon said years later. “I remember I got very emotional at the time, singing the lyrics. Whatever I’m singing, I really mean it. I don’t mess about.”
[Featured Image By AP File Photo/AP Images]