Is there any rock-themed film that seems as fresh, daring and funny as the Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night”? Sure, Ken Russell’s “Tommy” has Jack Nicholson singing and Ann-Margret rolling around in baked beans, and “This Is Spinal Tap” has as many laughs-per-second as any film in history. Still, “A Hard Day’s Night” simply cannot be topped.
This was hammered home to me several months ago when my then-3-year-old became near-obsessed with watching it. (“HELP!” also is a favorite, mainly for scene of Paul McCartney using a blonde for a guitar during “Another Girl.”) But after watching the Beatles’ first film many, many times over the past few months, I am more impressed than ever with Richard Lester’s skills as director, and the brashness and utter joy of the Fab Four on screen.
This year, “A Hard Day’s Night” turns 50, and a remastered and restored version is touring the country. It has its Buffalo premiere on July 6 in the Screening Room Cinema Cafe (3131 Sheridan Drive, Amherst), and screens again on July 8, 10 and 12. Times are 7:30 on July 6, 8, and 10, and 7:30 and 9:30 on July 12. For more info, visit www.screeningroom.net.
The film’s level of cinephile respect was affirmed this month with its DVD and Blu-ray release on the Criterion Collection label. The release features a new documentary, vintage clips and Lester’s Oscar-nominated 1960 short “The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film.”
Still, there is something special about watching “A Hard Day’s Night” in public, where you can scream alongside the rest of the audience. If you see a 4-year-old bum-rushing the screen in a Beatles T-shirt, trailed by a slightly-stressed dad, say hello to my son and me.