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The Making of “A Hard Day's Night” Movie Review

lester film owen collins

The Making of “A Hard Day's Night” unravels one mystery I've been trying to solve for-absotively-ever: if Phil Collins, then 14, made his film debut in it, where the heck WAS he? Collins himself answers the question and shows us a crowd shot in which only his family could recognize him screaming along with all the other teenaged extras. This new documentary, produced by and featuring Walter Shenson (who made the original film), reveals other little-known facts about the world's most famous rock musical: Ringo's choice of reading material in the movie was Anatomy of a Murder; John WASN'T in the fondly remembered field sequence; and the title song over the credits was—literally—written overnight, after the rest of the movie was already completed. Also included is the “You Can't Do That” number, shaved from the final release, as well as an informal trailer the Beatles shot to promote the picture. The surprise for producer Walter Shenson and director Richard Lester was that the Beatles were such naturals in their very first movie. Alun Owen's Oscar-nominated screenplay was deliberately composed of very short bits of dialogue so that none of its four stars would have to say or do anything that would expose their lack of training as actors. Surprise, surprise; under the expert guidance of Lester, they turned out to be so engaging onscreen that Owen wrote extra sequences to highlight George Harrison and Ringo Starr. Moreover, at least a dozen of John Lennon's ad-libs remained in the finished movie. (Charitably unmentioned is the fact that one of Paul McCartney's solo moments wound up on the cutting room floor due to his self-conscious performance.) The years have been kind to actor Victor Spinetti, who recalls his work in the film with obvious pride and pleasure. Clearly, A Hard Day's Night, made thousands of miles away from executive busy mitts in Hollywood, was a happy experience for its fortunate creators. The Making of “A Hard Day's Night” is an affectionate look back at the musical classic helmed by the man MTV has long identified as its father. The great Richard Lester accepts the compliment, but characteristically, insists on a blood test.

1994 60m/C Phil Collins, The Beatles, Victor Spinetti, Alun Owen, Richard Lester, Peter Noone; W: David Leaf. VHS

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