A Hard Day’s Night

Movie Information

The Story: The Beatles perform a televised concert, have various adventures and nearly lose Ringo in the process. The Lowdown: Here we have one of the greatest — and arguably most important — films of the 1960s getting a two-day (Saturday and Sunday) re-issue in honor of its 50th anniversary. Oh, it's not like A Hard Day's Night has ever been entirely away — in fact, it had a national re-release back in 2000 — but it's always a treat to see this on a big screen with an audience. Plus, this new restoration ought to look, and sound, great.
Genre: Musical Comedy
Director: Richard Lester
Starring: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Wilfrid Brambell, Norm Rossington, John Junkin, Victor Spinetti
Rated: NR



There’s probably absolutely nothing new to be said about Richard Lester’s 1964 classic A Hard Day’s Night. Oceans of ink have been spilled on it, and I’m responsible for some of it. The truth is, however, that there are always going to be people who have never seen it, and there are always going to be people who want to see it one more time. Those of us who saw it in 1964 realized — even if a lot of us were too young to articulate it — that this was something very special, something almost magical and that the movies would never quite be the same. The years have proved that — and they’ve proved that the magic is still there at the flip of a projector switch. What’s even more remarkable is that the movie was envisioned as a cheap cash-in on Beatlemania (in fact, Beatlemania was its working title) — a carefully contrived pseudo-documentary that presented the Beatles as the world wanted them to be (reality only slightly intrudes). But somehow it managed to actually capture for all time the sense of that moment, and it did so, in part, by breaking nearly every rule in the book about what a movie should be.




All movies work better with an audience, but a film like A Hard Day’s Night becomes a separate experience with one. Whether you saw it in 1964 in a theater packed with screaming kids or at a college screening or on its 2000 re-issue or even the recent local screening, it’s always new and different with a new audience. (I suppose it’s possible to get a dud audience, but I’ve never seen it happen.) I remember the kids in ’64 (and that slightly perplexed me at the time), but I also remember the later audiences. I remember the little girl — no more than seven or eight — lying flat on her back right under the screen upstairs at the Fine Arts just staring up at John, Paul, George and Ringo. I remember the guy who got up and danced in the aisle at that recent screening. There’s always something — and you get a masterpiece of film in the bargain.


About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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4 thoughts on “A Hard Day’s Night

  1. Ken Hanke

    So…uh, who went to see this? I haven’t seen the figures yet, but I’m told that it exceeded every expectation.

    • I went to the Sunday 2 p.m. show, which appeared to be nearly sold out. (I’d love to know how it compared to the Saturday night showing.)

      Lots of people pre-ordered their tickets, judging from those in line with me. It was a fun nostalgia trip for some, many of whom applauded at the beginning and end of the movie. And those who hadn’t seen it before (such as my mother, who I took to the screening) enjoyed seeing The Beatles at such a young, carefree stage of their careers. Even the kids in attendance seemed to have fun because of the music.

      I know the Asheville Film Society screens classics like this throughout the year, but it was fun to have an “event” during a weekend that gave people an opportunity to either see a film they hadn’t seen before or reunite with a favorite memory.

  2. Ken Hanke

    Believe me, no one is more pleased with how well it did than I. What theater no. was it in on Sunday? To get the weekend gross it did, I’m guessing it was moved to a larger house than no. 6. Whatever the case, it did well enough that there are another two shows this weekend — 7 p.m. on Sat. and 2 p.m. on Sun.

    I regret somewhat that the AFS doesn’t show movies on the weekend, but that’s prime time for theaters and they are not likely to give up a theater for an evening.

    • Sunday’s show played in theater No. 10.

      I’m thrilled to hear that two more shows are playing this weekend. I might have to see it again!

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