The Beatles: Eight Days a Week—The Touring Years

Movie Information

The Story: Rare archival footage provides a glimpse into the Fab Four's brief touring career. The Lowdown: A must-see for Beatles fans, it may not be quite perfect, but it's a hell of a lot of fun.
Genre: Music Documentary
Director: Ron Howard
Starring: Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, George Harrison
Rated: NR

3063246-poster-p-1-ultimate-beatles-fan-ron-howard-got-to-geek-out-making-eight-days-a-week-1000x576Eight Days a Week knows its audience and plays to them unabashedly. There is no doubt in my mind this film would’ve been Ken Hanke’s Pick of the Week and probably would’ve found its way onto his year-end best-of list — even though he hated documentaries. I’m slightly too young to fall within the target demographic likely to be transfixed by this mesmeric memory machine, but that qualification should grant me an air of credibility when I say that nostalgic baby boomers are not the sole audience to which this doc will appeal. For those of us who missed out on Beatlemania, but still grew up in a world indelibly altered by the band’s outsized influence, there’s a unique value in Ron Howard’s tightly focused recounting of four years in the life of what almost certainly amounts to the most famous group of musicians in human history.the-beatles-eight-days-a-week-touring-documentary-trailer-ron-howard-0

At this point, is there anything left to say about the Beatles that hasn’t been mentioned often and elsewhere? If there is, Howard isn’t much interested in finding out. However, there is plenty of new material to show, and it all looks great. Rather than upsetting any unturned stones, Howard’s depiction of the Fab Four is all rose-colored glasses, digging deep into the vaults of the Beatles’ archives (courtesy of Apple Corps, corporate gatekeeper to all things Beatles) for some true gems of rare and unseen performance footage. Everything has been remastered to look and sound better than any Beatles film I’ve ever seen, and that’s no small feat for a band that has shown up in archival footage at least 120 times (if IMDb is to be trusted).the-beatles-eight-days-a-week-the-touring-years1

As its unwieldy but appropriate title would imply, The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years follows the band through their remarkably brief tenure as a troupe of traveling troubadours, starting in 1962 with the band’s finalized lineup playing early shows in Hamburg, Germany, or at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, England, and ending with the ill-fated 1966 tour that led the band back to the studio for good. What works about Howard’s curtailed narrative is that it favors depth over breadth, a focus that allows for a more evocative interpretation of this critical chapter in the history of the Beatles and rock music as a whole. I found myself wishing the film had gone on to cover Sgt. Pepper’s and beyond, but I doubt it would work as well if it had.ctvfqdv8enkm8uyuqu8dlheg9kn

Notably absent is any salacious detail, as the film glosses over the groupies and cuts out right before the heavy drug use starts. But anybody dying for dirt can find plenty elsewhere (or just watch 2007’s Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story and get the gist). Instead, this is an unabashed love letter from a dedicated fan. If the spit-shine the band gets from Howard is every bit as superficial and contrived as the one they got from manager Brian Epstein in their early days, that doesn’t make it the slightest bit less fun.maxresdefault-14

If I have any real complaints with this film, they can only be assigned to Howard’s peculiar, workmanlike direction. Howard’s veneration of his subject is blatant, as though he were more concerned with presenting untarnished myth than unvarnished truth. While this is not, strictly speaking, a problem in and of itself, at times it detracts from the film’s stronger elements. As a documentarian, he seems to be resting on the laurels of his access to the archives, with the vintage performance and interview footage far outstripping his awkwardly animated stills and arbitrary talking heads. Is it interesting to see footage of a teenage Sigourney Weaver at an early concert as she recounts memories of straightening her hair with beer cans? Sure. Does it contribute much to the overall film? Not really. Of slightly more interest is the social commentary on the band’s significance to race relations in the U.S., as provided by Whoopi Goldberg and Dr. Kitty Oliver, but even these interviews seem largely extraneous. The only interview segments that unquestionably work are those of the band members (including John and George — obviously and unfortunately posthumous) and journalist Larry Kane, who was effectively embedded on tour with the band. But then Malcolm Gladwell pops up to talk about the genesis of youth culture and my eyes glaze over, if only for a moment.the-beatles-eight-days-a-week-the-touring-years-2016-george-harrison-ringo-starr-paul-mccartney-john-lennon

Minor quibbles aside, Eight Days is a great film, and one likely to please devotees and more casual aficionados alike. It’s a genuine shame this film seems primarily aimed at the streaming home video market (the theatrical run almost amounts to a prolonged ad for its Hulu debut just days after it opens on the big screen), because this is a movie that begs to be viewed with a good audience and great sound. Just be prepared to have the soundtrack stuck in your head for days after seeing this one. Not rated.

Special 7:30 screening Thursday, with regular show times starting Friday, at Fine Arts Theatre


Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

6 thoughts on “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week—The Touring Years

  1. Randi Brooks

    You are so right about all of the groupies The Beatles had sex with being totally left out of the movie.

    The Beatles had sex with *tons* of young women groupies,many who were just teen girls especially during their touring years of 1963-1966 ironically they did this the most during the joke fake cleaned up image Brian Epstein created for them in their early days.In reality they were like pimps playing the part of priests! It’s no coincidence that in The Beatles Anthology video series that Paul,George and Ringo made,the story that is reported of The Beatles being thrown out of a US hotel in August 1965 because Paul was found in his hotel bedroom with an underage girl, that is included in the first great Beatles documentary from 1982 The Complete Beatles which none of them had any involvement making,is completely left out of The Beatles Anthology.

    Paul McCartney also said in Hunter Davies 1968 first edition of the only authorized Beatles biography called,The Beatles, that he had sex at age 15 with a girl who was older and bigger than him,and most 15 year old boys weren’t having sex in 1957,and he said he bragged about it to his classmates the next day and that he was the first one in his class to have sex.Paul also said in this book,that he would go into strip clubs at only 13 and he was the lad in his class that drew nude women.He also got another girl who was his girl friend,pregnant when he was 17 and she was 16,and Paul’s father and her parents wanted them to get married but she had a miscarriage.

    Hunter Davies says in his 1985 update of his Beatles biography, that The Beatles were no different from any other rock band when it came to groupies and he said they just had more to chose from. He said it was up to the road manager to say to these young women,you,you and you 5 minutes later which is really sexist and disgusting but it’s totally typical for every rock band which is what they always were.

  2. Randi Brooks

    I really didn’t want to link to this article because unfortunately it says it appeared in Penthouse, the sexist,woman-hating,degrading and violent pornographic magazine in 1984,but I can’t find the full interview anywhere else.

    This is a great interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono at The St.Regis Hotel in September 1971. And Yoko was asked if she knew about what really went on during The Beatles tours,and she says she had thought that he’s an artist I’m sure he has had a few affairs, and she said she was really shocked and she said Oh God! when John told her the whole story about what he called all of the raving that went on their tours,Yoko said she had never heard the word groupie before.And Yoko was no innocent either,John was her third husband,she had a daughter with her second husband,and she had quite a few affairs and even abortions in the 1960’s.

    John is also asked if playing 8 hours a night from 1960-1962 as The Beatles did in Hamburg Germany improved their playing and he said oh absolutely because before that they had only played bits and pieces but in hamburg they played for hours and hours and that’s how they developed their rock n roll sound and playing.He also mentions how they took (meaning speed pills) to stay awake playing so long.

  3. Randi Brooks

    The description of Ron Howard’s Beatles documentary looks like it’s great,and I really truly hope that this helps debunk this extremely ignorant,ridiculous,ludicrous stupid myth that The Beatles were ever a stupid,uncool,untalented boy band! They were and still are The Greatest *rock n roll,and rock band ever*!

    Oh and I hope it deals with how primitive,and limited their sound systems were in those days too,George Harrison said in the Beatles Anthology video series,that special 100 watt amplifiers were built and that they went up from the only 30 watts they had before,they also had no feedback monitors so they couldn’t even hear themselves singing and playing,but amazingly they managed to play in so good and in sync with each other anyway.

    And it was amazing they sounded as good as they did live,nobody could have sounded great on those poor sound systems it was impossible. But The Beatles were so great,they would have even sounded good playing out of a cave.

  4. Randi Brooks

    The Beatles were *never* a ”boy band”! As a poster Reverend Rock,who is a rock musician,reverend and a big Beatles fan said on a classic rock site years ago,that anyone who knows The Beatles history knows it’s ludicrous to even *suggest* such a thing!

    The Monkees didn’t even start off as a genuine band, they were all musical but they were originally hired as actors to play members of a TV pop rock band for their TV show, they didn’t start off playing together like Paul at age 15,George age 14 and John age 16 playing guitars and singing,then playing a few years later for 8 hours a night in sleazy strip clubs like The Beatles did in Hamburg Germany(or anywhere) for 2 years in a row,taking speed pills to stay awake to do it,and working their a*ses off playing as a real rock n roll band,and then playing successfully in the Cavern club as a real rock n roll band for years by the time they made it big.

    And The Beatles wrote and played a lot of great rock n roll and pop rock songs in their early days. John and Paul wrote the rock n roll song I Wanna Be Your Man write in front of Keith Richards and Mick Jagger in 1963 and they were both really impressed that they could just write a song just like that,and it inspired them to start writing their own songs and both bands became good friends from then on. And this song was one of The Rolling Stones first hits.

    There is just no comparison to The Monkees etc. A guy so accurately said on a message board many years ago when some idiots called them a ”boy band” that The Beatles were *never* a boy band,not even during their 1963-1965 period. And another guy said a few years after this on another forum,when some idiot said this,that he too once thought the early Beatles were a boy band like NYSNC,or The Back Street Boys,until he got out of 7th grade.

    And younger people don’t know what type of music was out in 1963,even though I wasn’t born yet,I know that The Beatles early songs like She Loves You and I Want To Hold Your Hand were hard rock compared to the music out then.There was just Bobby Darin,The Four Seasons,Bobby Vinton and The Beach Boys surfing hits.

  5. Randi Brooks

    Both VH1 and MTV have been using Richie Unterberger’s excellent All Music Guide’s long Beatles biography as their Beatles biography they both used to not have a very good biography of The Beatles.Here are great Beatles biographies that totally debunk this totally stupid,inaccurate,ludicrous,ridiculous myth that they were ever a ‘’boy band’’!

    The Beatles own documentary The Beatles Anthology

    The great 1982 Beatles documentary,The Complete Beatles narrated by award winning British actor Malcolm McDowell

    And any great reputable accurate Beatles biography would debunk this ludicrous,stupid myth.And I have *never* read or heard *any* legitimate serious rock critics or rock music journalists describe them this way and for extremely great reasons!

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.