100 Awesome Things – Part 11

I just saw A Hard Day's Night in my favourite cinema. I haven't seen it in a long while.

When I was fifteen, I watched A Hard Day's Night almost every night upon returning from the misery of school. Some nights, I watched it twice. I fast-forwarded through bits I didn't dig so much – never got along with the "Can't Buy Me Love" scene because I never rated that song very highly.

I loved it, though. The humour: sometimes wry, sometimes broad, sometimes rather naughty for the times, the in-jokes. It became a new language for me to talk in – my friend Louise also knew the movie and we would pepper our conversation with "that's an in-joke you know" and the likes. I was a Lennon Person then, and I think he gets a lot of the best lines in the movie, so maybe that's why I was a Lennon person (constantly re-reading Coleman's Lennon biography helped).

I watched the damn film so many times that I could still recite most of the script along with them when I saw it earlier. And yet it felt fresh and new in some ways to see it on a big screen: I hadn't noticed that Wilfred Brambell's character is actually reading a nudie magazine at the start. I'd forgotten how much of a shock that first chord in "A Hard Day's Night" is when it opens the movie. I found new appreciation for the "Can't Buy Me Love" segment on the big screen, and through not being able to FF through it.

To this day, I still think of the supporting cast as being "…who was in A Hard Day's Night" with few exceptions. Anna Quayle will always be Mrs Monroe from Grange Hill first; and Wilfred Brambell is and ever will be Steptoe first and foremost. It doesn't matter that Norman Rossington had a lengthy and successful career, when I saw him in his Sharpe appearance, my reaction was "You're a swine!"

It even influenced how I speak: there are some lines I use in every day speech that I'd basically forgotten I'd nicked from them! Today my work colleague Phil and I will occasionally (OK, regularly) break into a quote-the-movie game if so much as a word or theme comes up in the everyday. "A drag, a well known drag." You can imagine what we were like during the fuss about Swine Flu.

As a lover of movies as much as of music, I find it a fascinating film. Shot in black and white, it captures that moment just before the 1960s became "The Sixties" both in terms of how London and her people are depicted, and in cinema terms. Hand-held cameras, quick cuts, a realistic chaos, editing in time with the songs and even some Altman-like talking over each other… these are not things one saw in movies much if at all before. Mostly though, they're already taking the piss out of Beatlemania while it's still going on! It is, I think, really quite scornful, not even gentle satire at times. It's the weary scorn George displayed in his Anthology interviews where he talked about the fans giving their screams but the Beatles giving their nervous systems. The scene with George and the marketing guy still works perfectly today because hell, that's all it is now!

I think the Beatles often get credited with doing things "first" when maybe it's not fully accurate or fair. But A Hard Day's Night was something new and fresh and game-changing. Not just because of those four, but thanks to Alun Owen's script and Richard Lester's direction. I must've seen it more than 100 times and today was like meeting an old pal one hasn't seen for a long time and discovering that they're still delightful.

So today's Awesome thing is "I'm Happy Just To Dance WIth You" because it was one of my favourite songs in the film, because although I thought then that the sun shone out of Lennon's arse, I was beginning to realise that Harrison was just as interesting a character… "bonus" Lionel Blair at the beginning, too…

Last thing: the icon accompanying this post is one I made years ago when I still cared to do such things. It's a reference to a line in A Hard Day's Night.

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3 Responses to 100 Awesome Things – Part 11

  1. ashleigh_713 says:

    There are so many times when I’m reading your posts, particularly the music ones and I’m really excited about what I’m reading and often shaking my head in agreement. Then I don’t know what to comment, although if we were having a two way conversation, it would be easy. I really hope to be able to meet or at least have a phone talk, though that wouldn’t be the ideal thing. It’ll probably be mid October and I’m not sure who’ll be with me. Hopefully there will not be another heat wave and I may not eat the whole time we’re there, just in case more food poisoning is lurking.

    • apollarock says:

      That would be SO COOL.

      …and I’m just glad anyone’s still reading!


      • ashleigh_713 says:

        Yep, it would and I hope _will_ be! Waiting for the jubilee and the Olympics aree over is making the wait worse Did I mention we also didn’t get to do the Ireland 3 nights, 4 days in Ireland that was already paid for? We wanted to go to the Guiness Storehouse in Dublin in honor of my dad, we had a rental car and were just going to wander. The good thing is that the travel insurance covered all of that, so we really have to do that, it would be just wrong not to!

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