Friday, 16 September 2005

A Hard Day's Night

So how does one maintain one's sanity whilst ploughing through eighty-five essays...? I don't know about you, but The Beatles work for me. I've been repeatedly (repeatedly is putting it mildly) playing A Hard Day's Night on my PC with the sound turned off. God, how I love that movie. Thank you, Richard Lester.

Pompous Old Git On Train:I fought in the War, you know!
Lennon: Bet you're sorry you won.

I never did like Paul. Typically selfconscious and ingratiating McCartney behaviour here: Paul being smarmy at some schoolgirls. (They are excellent schoolgirls.) It is all very innocent and harmless and utterly unreal. Manipulative, yes: but it's done with such charm and so much eagerness to please, and it's impossible to be suspicious and resentful of an attempt to make you buy a Beatles record.

Divvying up the afternoon's fan mail: Ringo only gets one letter. It's because of his enormous nose, apparently.

Paul's Grandfather: (to lady in gambling club) I bet you're a grand swimmer.

Wilfrid Brambell. If you're old enough, you might remember him from Steptoe & Son. (I do, barely.) As Steptoe he was a filthy, foul, putrid old man; in this movie, the running gag is that he's "very clean." He's a dead ringer for James Joyce - without actually physically resembling Joyce at all though.

This is probably my favourite part. At a very Swinging party - it looks quite unscripted, "real" - the four Beatles are quite obviously conquering heroes. Ringo is dancing with various girls. A remarkably fine specimen of Inbred Upper-Class Twit British Manhood finds himself dancing alongside Ringo from Liverpool, and obviously can't quite believe or get over his astonishing good fortune. Lord Twit does a ridiculous little leap of joy. Ringo imitates him. Twit's delighted, lopsided, dopey grin instantly doubles in width. Oh my god, he's invented a new dance - and RINGO STARR think's it's cool! Twit does it again. Ringo does it again, again. It's priceless.

Ringo is my hero, actually. He gets all the good lines. Here he is, telling a lady reporter that he's neither a Mod nor a Rocker...

The TV special director wears a mohair jumper, as signifier of his general Christopher Marlowe-ish-ness.


Paul! (note, please, fussy little waistcoat. Sign of relentless middle-class self-fashioning, and avatar of the awful. awful. awful Fair Isle vest he would insist on wearing all the way through Magical Mystery Tour)

George! (much funkier)

and Ringo!

I'm almost looking forward to the next batch of essays.


shauna said...

you are SO on the money with Paul and that revolting waistcoat! so easy to see how he later 'evolved' to put out shite like Mull of Kintyre.

it is just such a brilliant movie though, and ringo totally steals the show :)

JM said...

I LOVE that movie. I also agree that Ringo completely steals the show.

Ben.H said...

Agreed. As a callow youth in the 80s I managed to drag some school mates to a screening at the local cinema. I would like to think I changed their lives.

It's a pity Wilfrid Brambell had to drop out of playing The Mothers' bass player in Frank Zappa's 200 Motels.

"I'll murder that Lennon!" (twice!)


R H said...

Wilfrid Brambell was one of the best actors I've seen. Steptoe was one of the best shows. He was born for the part.

R H said...

In private life he was a spiv; an antique collector devoted to fine living. As Steptoe he was a bum, a dirty old bugger living in a trash heap.
The truth is he could be either, anytime he wanted.

Phantom Scribbler said...

(Shamefacedly) Paul was my favorite when I was a child. Sigh. The edginess of the others, it made me anxious.

Of course later in life I got cool and adopted John as my favorite. But I've always felt like a bit of a poser about it.

My kid's favorite is Ringo. Based on Yellow Submarine, of course.

Lucy said...

not because of Thomas the Frickin Tank Engine, Phantom?

Lucy Tartan said...

good one, Lucy!

Jellyfish said...

Ace post.

I've gone through various favorites over the years. Paul is so charming and gregarious and funny, but YES, you get the impression he's a real knob. Also, first wife barely cold in the ground when he... well, you know.

John, so cuttingly witty in the early footage, massive talent, also endearingly a child genius like my own brother, but clearly a massive prat, plus 'Imagine' gives me the shits and he is, inconveniently, dead.

Ringo, probably the nicest of the bunch, yet it always bugged me that he wasn't that good a singer or songwriter.

I eventually fell into the George basket. Wrote some great stuff. Nice singer. Impressively lucid in those docos they made a few years back. His son seems a nice lad. Now also inconveniently deceased, but the tribute concert was great, though. Viva George.

The film is tops. Someone involved - writer? director? - was also involved in the Spice Girls movie, which honest to God, is actually quite funny.

I'll be going now.

genevieve said...

The Spice Girls movie struck me as heavily borrowing from the Beatles in some intangible way. Maybe it was the bus.And the accents...
Laura, you seem to remember that old skipping rhyme. (In on) John, (Out on) Paul, (Over on) George, (Under on) Ringo. Love the bit where a girl thinks she recognises John.

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