Friday, February 7, 2014
YEAH, YEAH, YEAH!
Sunday marks the (ulp) 50th anniversary of The Beatles' first of three consecutive appearances on the Ed Sullivan TV show. The date was February 9, 1964, and nothing in music, society, or pop culture was ever the same again.
Only two and a half years later, The Beatles stopped touring in order to concentrate on writing and recording the music that was the defining soundtrack of the 1960s. And their influence continued to shape the culture, if no longer on stage, definitely over the airwaves and onscreen. The group made five official movies together as a band, not to mention various individual solo acting projects, vanity productions, and concert films.
The Beatles' infectious music and cheeky irreverence are as irresistible today as ever. To celebrate fifty years of the Fab Four in America, here are some of their best onscreen appearances to get you into that vintage Beatlemania vibe.
A HARD DAY'S NIGHT (1964) The first Beatles movie is a day-in-the-life adventure full of the knockabout slapstick and faster-than-a-speeding-bullet wisecracks that taught an entire generation how to be cool. It's also a radical comedy of class and youth as the upstart lads from the industrial north gleefully overrun fusty old rules and traditions. More than a great rock 'n' roll movie—and it's one of the best, especially since the soundtrack was digitally restored in 2000—it has only improved with age.
HELP! (1965) This lavish color musical comedy is a slapstick spoof on the James Bond spy film craze with a tribe of scimitar-wielding East Indian cultists pursuing the boys from London to the Swiss Alps to the Bahamas because Ringo is wearing the sacred sacrificial ring of the next chosen victim. But there's still plenty of time for music.
YELLOW SUBMARINE (1968) The Beatles lent their blessing to this opulent, psychedelic animated fairy tale with an opium-dream plot in which the band is whisked off to save the magical kingdom of Pepperland with their special brand of music and merriment.
LET IT BE (1970) Director Michael Lindsay-Hogg's doc on The Beatles' last recording sessions captures John, Paul, George, and Ringo on the verge of splitting up, yet they still create some indelible musical moments.
THE CONCERT FOR BANGLADESH (1972) Years before Band-Aid and Live-Aid, George Harrison organized and headlined this first all-star charity rock concert, which features Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Leon Russell, Billy Preston, and, oh yeah, Bob Dylan.
GIVE MY REGARDS TO BROAD STREET (1984) Paul McCartney returns to the day-in-the-life format in this musical confection. Despite a feeble plot, it has a terrific soundtrack of 14 McCartney songs. Released exactly two decades after A Hard Day's Night, it offers a sharp commentary on his 20 years in the pop culture mainstream. (Read complete article in this week's Good Times)