My Ranking Of The Beatles’ Movies

the beatles movies

One of my favourite things about The Beatles is their movies. They’re not cinematic masterpieces, or anything, but they have a certain loveable charm about them. Watching their movies has become something of a ritual for me, and I’ve loved them ever since I’ve been a fan!

So today, I thought I’d rank The Beatles’ movies in order, from least-favourite to favourite. Of course, this is only my opinion. But anyway…

5. Magical Mystery Tour (1967)

MMT_poster

Paul made a lot of good decisions in the late-’60s. Like Sgt Pepper, or his distrust of Allen Klein. Magical Mystery Tour was not one of these. The film has the honour of being the only Beatles film I dislike.

The movie makes no sense, whatsoever. I’m still yet to work out what the wizards are about – did they plan the mystery tour, or are they there for no reason at all? And what about the “view” during the ‘Flying’ sequence? What filmic purpose does the stripper fulfil? Who are the people on the bus supposed to be? I presume much of the comedy consists of The Beatles’ inside jokes, but as the viewer is not privy to these, they are left to wonder what on Earth is going on. The movie’s considerable lack of a storyline, however, is the film’s most serious downfall. This does not help the consistency of the film, and much of, if not all, of the scenes seem to have been filmed for the sake of it. Its incoherent & amateurish atmosphere made it quite cringeworthy to watch in parts, and I found it to mostly be a product of badly-made self-indulgence.

There are, however, some highlights. I’ve always loved the ‘Blue Jay Way’ song sequence, for the wonderfully-psychedelic camera work, and the fact that the choreography in the ‘Your Mother Should Know’ scene actually worked is pretty cool, too. And, of course, the music is simply wonderful – boasting tracks like ‘I Am The Walrus’ and ‘Fool On The Hill’ – and the accompanying album is perhaps one of The Beatles’ best. However, I felt the positives were somewhat outweighed, and that its status as “one of the most expensive home movies ever” is justified.

4. Let It Be (1970)

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I really like Let It Be. The Beatles must be the only band to have such a fly-on-the-wall documentary featuring such a seminal part of their history behind them, and for that, I’m very grateful!

There is no denying that the film is incredibly difficult to watch in parts. Over its course, you watch the band fall apart before your eyes. You see Paul become more domineering, and more desperate to keep The Beatles alive. You see George become increasingly disillusioned with the band. You see the affect that John’s heroin addiction at the time was having. And oh, I felt so much pity on poor Ringo, who’s clearly fed up with the other three’s almost-constant fighting.

However, the good moments are really good. Classics like ‘Two Of Us’, ‘Across The Universe’, ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ and ‘Oh! Darling’ – and even tunes like ‘Octopus’s Garden’ – are created within the film, and watching their evolution is fascinating viewing. And of course, the last 20 minutes of the film consists of the famous Rooftop Concert, one of the most iconic moments in music history. The Beatles’ live performance is stunning, especially considering that they’d been confined to the studio for the previous three years. The magic between the four is enthralling to watch, and the reactions of the surrounding residents are incredibly interesting, too. I find it sad that the only way you can watch the film currently is on bad-quality bootleg, though it’s a must-watch for any Beatles fan!

3. A Hard Day’s Night (1964)

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A Hard Day’s Night is arguably the best Beatles film. Rotten Tomatoes ranks it as the fifth best film of all time, and it has been credited with inventing both the mockumentary and the music clip. It has also been said to have influenced the way that movies and music performances were filmed, too. The Beatles’ humour is at its sharpest and wittiest, their music at its most joyfully poppy and the band at the height of their teenage-orientated success.

The Beatles had never acted before A Hard Day’s Night, but there are so many great moments within the film. My favourite is perhaps this scene featuring George – the humour is so sarcastically cynical and deadpan, and it’s absolutely hilarious! Other favourites of mine include the scene in which John plays with a toy boat in the bath (so ridiculously silly that it actually works) and the scene where The Beatles visit a club, and the concert at the end of the film. The movie’s influence on music clips is also clear to to the modern viewer – the various techniques used in the ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ sequences make for a swift departure from miming the songs, which was commonplace at the time. The faux-documentary presentation of the storyline also invented the “mockumentary”, and the irony and sheer ridiculousness of some of the band’s antics clearly influenced future films, such as This Is Spinal Tap. And of course, the music is great, too. The movie’s accompanying album of the same name was the only Beatles album to consist entirely of Lennon/McCartney songs, and though they are still reasonably poppy and “people-pleasing”, it’s clear that The Beatles were beginning to become the influential pop-culture icons they were to end up.

I had the pleasure of seeing A Hard Day’s Night in a cinema, last year, in HD and surround sound. It was a truly amazing experience, and I discovered a new love for the film. Perhaps the only reason it isn’t higher in my ranking is that it lacks the nostalgia that 2 & 1 have attached with them, for me.

2. Help! (1965)

beatles-help-poster

Help! – The Beatles’ second foray into the film industry – is not technically as good as A Hard Day’s Night. The humour isn’t quite as intelligent, and there’s a faint junket vibe wafting around it. However, I’ve always loved it.

The film, at various points, almost leaps off the screen in its vibrant technicolour. The Beatles’ apartment (furnished with a modernist aesthetic still considered stylish today), in particular, is displayed in comically bright hues of green, blue and orange. When an Eastern cult – the central villains of the movie – attempt to douse Ringo in their sacrificial paint, a river of red spills over the image. The stunning whites of the Swiss Alps glint in the ‘Ticket To Ride’ sequence, and the blue, sunny skies of the Bahamas provide contrast. Leading heroine’s Ahme’s costumes are shown in shades of rose-pink, turquoise and glimmering silver. The innovative and influential filming of scenes such as the ‘Another Girl’ song sequence feature a hint of proto-psychedelia, highlighting the changing times. The Beatles’ music featured in the film shows the end of their early era, predicting the changes that would come with the soon-to-follow Rubber Soul. The movie includes tracks like the folk-rock genius of ‘You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away’, the keyboard-driven rock of ‘The Night Before’, the beautifully guitar-driven ‘You’re Gonna Lose That Girl’ and, of course, ‘Help!’ itself, and the A-side of the accompanying album is one of my favourites of all time. And whilst the humour isn’t quite as intelligent as that of its predecessor, A Hard Day’s Night, the movie certainly has more than its fair share of witticisms and proto-Python skits. Some wonderfully-funny one-liners stemmed from the script, and of course, the entire film itself is a product of satire. It’s hilarious!

Help!, all in all, is a ridiculously funny and influential movie, showcasing some of The Beatles’ best tunes and foreshadowing their future direction. It was my original favourite Beatles film, and I must have watched it more than twenty times over the past two years!

1. Yellow Submarine (1968)

Beatles_Yellow_Submarine_move_poster

Yellow Submarine, in my opinion, is something that the other Beatles films aren’t; a cinematic masterpiece. And though the band were barely involved with it – only featuring for a few minutes at the end of the film – it has become my favourite Beatles movie.

Perhaps the most endearing point about the movie, for me, is its animation. Even more colourful than the bouncy technicolour of Help!, and psychedelically surrealistic & wildly chaotic, the movie is still considered mindblowing viewing over forty-five years after its release. Featuring highlights like the bold pop-art of the ‘Only A Northern Song’ scene, the darting flapper-throwback of the ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’, the contrasting minimalism of the ‘Nowhere Man’ scene and the futurism of the ‘It’s All Too Much’ sequence, the film is unarguably one of, if not the, most beautiful films of all time. The music, too, is exquisite – though much of the film consists of previously-released masterpieces such as ‘All You Need Is Love’ and the aforementioned ‘Nowhere Man’, the original songs are mostly darkly psychedelic, creative gems, including ‘Hey Bulldog’ and (the also aforementioned) ‘Only A Northern Song’ and ‘It’s All Too Much’. The humour, though overshadowed by the extraordinary visuals and music, is also stunningly funny. Many of the jokes consist of Beatle-themed puns, which any Beatles fan will appreciate, though many of the other jokes are wonderfully witty and sharp. The movie is clearly a product of its era, centring around a message of peace, love and good music. Some may argue that this is a negative, though I disagree. In a way, it is such an essence of its time that it hasn’t dated at all.

Yellow Submarine is a deserved classic. Innovative, mindblowing and a work of art in a way the other Beatles films are not, it is an exquisite piece of film history. The film was my first Beatles movie, and I’ve loved it ever since.

What’s your favourite Beatles film? How would you rank them? Be sure to tell me in the comments!

My Ranking of The Beatles’ Albums

The Beatles with four of their five first LPs. One would assume the photo was taken in between August (Help!) and December (Rubber Soul), 1965.

The Beatles with four of their five first LPs. One would assume the photo was taken in between August (Help!) and December (Rubber Soul), 1965.

A note to begin with: The sun is up, the sky is blue (it’s beautiful and so are you / dear Prudence — why won’t you come out to play?), ‘All You Need Is The Beatles’ is only one hundred and thirty six views away from its thousandth view (well, it’ll be even closer by the time you read this) and COMMENTS HAVE FINALLY BEEN ENABLED ON THIS BLOG! Yay! So be sure to send me a postcard, drop me a line, stating point of view! 

I had this idea first a few months ago (about a month after I started this blog. It’s funny to think that it’s four months old — not that old in the scheme of things, I guess, but it feels more like last month that I created my WordPress account and posted my ‘Welcome’ post, as opposed to over a season), and I thought I’d do it today! I hadn’t actually listened to all of The Beatles’ studio albums at that point (well, I knew most of the songs, but anyway), and I’m listening to the only one I haven’t yet done so yet right now. I will not be including Magical Mystery Tour in this post as I believe it is not a proper studio album (instead a Capitol Records butcher job of the songs off the film and the band’s 1967 — that’s not to say I don’t love the album 🙂 ), and please remember this is only my humble opinion. Oh, and please remember that a worst ranking on a Beatles album ranking list in my case still makes it better than pretty much everything ever recorded (with maybe two or three exceptions). Pretty much everything. So I still love it dearly, but just not as much as number one!

Okay, okay, yes, yes — I’ll shut up now and get on with the ranking. Here we go!

12. Yellow Submarine

yellow submarine

I feel The Beatles (or Apple) really should have gone ahead with their original idea for the release of the Yellow Submarine track — a double EP, as with the Parlophone release of the Magical Mystery Tour soundtrack. The songs ‘Yellow Submarine’ (whilst it probably needed to be included on the album for obvious reasons) and ‘All You Need Is Love’ (though I believe the ‘Yellow Submarine’ version is different from the better-known one) had already been included on different albums/singles/EPs, and did we really need the classical George Martin Orchestra bits on the album? This is, in fact, the only one I haven’t listened to in full before now (I opted for the better — IMO — Yellow Submarine Songtrack) — I have watched Yellow Submarine a billion-trillion (okay, maybe not quite that much) times, though, so I’ve of course heard them before. Actually physically LISTENING to the album does make me think that Apple didn’t need to follow in the direction of the Capitol butchers [insert certain famous R. Whitaker-photographed cover here] and create a soundtrack in the style of the US A Hard Day’s Night and Help! albums, but it also takes me back to that Spring day a year ago when I first watched Yellow Submarine. I remember sitting in our top room (the DVD player with the main TV wouldn’t actually work), absorbed by psychedelic masterpiece animation (‘Eleanor Rigby’ and ‘It’s All Too Much’ come to mind) and the middle-era Beatles tunes, many of which I hadn’t heard before (the only album I owned was 1, and I’d only listened as far as The Fabs’ other well-known hits and Rubber Soul).

Despite my criticism of the inclusion of the GMO soundtrack and songs which had already been on other releases, I absolutely love the originals! ‘Hey Bulldog’, ‘It’s All Too Much’ and ‘Only A Northern Song’ are some of my favourite Beatles songs, and I don’t want to imagine life without them — thus I don’t want to imagine life with the Yellow Submarine album, either!

DID YOU KNOW? Yellow Submarine was the first album to feature the “devil horns” hand symbol on the cover.

BEST SONGS: ‘Hey Bulldog’, ‘It’s All Too Much’, ‘Only A Northern Song’

11. A Hard Day’s Night

a hard day's night

Despite the above being the background image of this blog, A Hard Day’s Night is far from my favourite Beatles album. Why, you ask? Here is my reasoning:

Those of you who know me will know I’m a alt./indie/folk/psych rock fiend when I’m not listening to The Beatles. The Beatles usually satisfy this love — much of their early/late-era stuff rocks really hard, and they were of course comprised of folk and psych rock in their middle era (my favourite). Their only album that I find too poppy is A Hard Day’s Night. Whilst the album is made up completely of Lennon/McCartney compositions, their songwriting hadn’t really started to mature yet, and it’s still all I-love-her-and-she-loves-me (excepting ‘I’ll Cry Instead’, which was probably The Fab Four’s first example of confessional lyricism). I’m not a huge fan of the title song, which I find too poppy in particular, and ‘And I Love Her’ doesn’t have the bluesy Lennon touch (though I think he contributed) that other McCartney ballads have (i.e. ‘Michelle’), and ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ I feel needs more pizzazz (I do actually like these songs, though). So I’m probably being a bit controversial citing a so-called “leap” in The Beatles’ career one of my least favourite Beatles albums, but who cares? There are actually some songs on the above that I love dearly, which will be listed below.

DID YOU KNOW? A Hard Day’s Night is the only Beatles album to only comprise of Lennon/McCartney compositions. The next all-original album — Rubber Soul — also had two Harrison compositions.

BEST SONGS: ‘I Should Have Known Better’, ‘Tell Me Why’, ‘If I Fell’, ‘Things We Said Today’ and ‘You Can’t Do That’.

10. With The Beatles

with the beatles

Whilst I think this beats the album below in the covers department (except here in Australia. Ugh. The Australian cover is atrocious. EMI Australia is the Capitol of the record-cover world), I don’t like it as much  I actually rank it equal to the below (you’ll have to wait to see what it is), but one had to go before. I don’t think the covers are as electrifying as the ones on the below, but then my favourite Beatles cover is on With The Beatles (it’s ‘Money (That’s What I Want’). I do genuinely love this album, but I do prefer The Beatles’ later stuff, so unfortunately it ended up here.

DID YOU KNOW? With The Beatles includes the song ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’, which was the Rolling Stones’ first hit. John and Paul finished the song off in the corner of a room whilst Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were talking.

BEST SONGS: ‘It Won’t Be Long’, ‘Not A Second Time’, ‘Money (That’s What I Want)’, ‘Please Mr Postman’

9. Please Please Me

beatles please please me

This is what ‘the below’ is! Please Please Me! You can probably see what I mean about With The Beatles having a better cover. It certainly ain’t Revolver. And I can see why The Beatles were going to parody it for the cover of Get Back-turn-Let It Be. And Ringo has a quiff.

But seriously (without out-of-the-blue remarks concerning Richard Starkey’s choice of hair styling in the early 1960s), this album is a Beatlemaniac’s secret weapon whilst trying to point out that The Beatles were a rock band, end of story. They rock dead hard on this album. And no wonder – they had come straight from The Cavern and Hamburg!

DID YOU KNOW? Most of Please Please Me was recorded within a marathon 12-hour session. John had a cold that day, and promptly lost his voice after the recording of ‘Twist and Shout’ (the last song to be recorded).

BEST SONGS: ‘Please Please Me’, ‘There’s A Place’, ‘Baby It’s You’ (I have liked the Shirlees’ version for years, so I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered The Beatles did it), ‘I Saw Her Standing There’.

8. Beatles For Sale

beatles for sale

This is, personally, one of my favourite Beatles covers, but of course the stupid cover butcher-rers over here in the Southern Hemisphere had to ruin it by creating a rubbish replacement. More on that later, though.

This is actually one of my favourite Beatles albums, despite it being 8. If you asked me tomorrow, it could be in a completely different place. It’s got some of my favourite Lennon compositions (‘I’m A Loser’, ‘I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party’), some of the most beautiful harmonies John and Paul ever did (‘Baby’s In Black’) and of course the amazing drums in ‘What You’re Doing’!

DID YOU KNOW? Beatles For Sale (along with With The Beatles) was one of the two albums to have an alternate cover in Australia. Apparently John actually wrote a letter to EMI in protest, but alas to no avail. C’mon EMI Australia – listen to the artist!

BEST SONGS: ‘No Reply’, ‘I’m A Loser’, ‘Baby’s In Black’, ‘I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party’, ‘What You’re Doing’

7. Let It Be

LetItBe

I love this album, but it’s mish-mashy. And it has my least-favourite Beatles song (the Spector version of ‘The Long And Winding Road’. Despite the fact he is a crazed murderer who let off guns in recording sessions at John’s ‘Lost Weekend’, I love his work on John and George’s stuff and most of Let It Be. But ‘The Long And Winding Road’ should have been left as it was.) on it. But it has ‘Across The Universe’! And the album version of ‘Let It Be’ (which I think is far superior to the single)! And ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’! And ‘For You Blue’! And ‘Get Back’!

DID YOU KNOW? Though it was the last album to be released, Let It Be was the second-to-last album to be recorded. Abbey Road was actually recorded after.

BEST SONGS: ‘Across The Universe’, ‘Let It Be’ (album version), ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’, ‘For You Blue’, ‘Get Back.

6. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

sgt pepper

I know this is supposed to be The Beatles’ best album. But I beg to differ. I don’t feel it possesses the same magic that I feel a certain other Beatles psychedelic masterpiece does. But I still love this album. I listened to it the other day, and it was better than I remembered it. It did give me that euphoric feeling I get sometimes whilst listening to the Fabs, but not as strong as some other albums. But anyway, the thing is beautiful. Completely and utterly beautiful. And that is all.

DID YOU KNOW? The crowd of people on the cover include Bob Dylan, Stu Sutcliffe, Mae West and Shirley Temple. John suggested having Jesus and Hitler, but that didn’t happen. Gandhi was originally on the cover, but was painted out at the request of EMI.

BEST SONGS: ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’, ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’, ‘Lovely Rita’, ‘A Day In The Life’

5. Help!

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Help! was the second Beatles studio album and the first actual LP I bought. And yes, I prefer it to Sgt. Pepper — but as I said above, if you asked me tomorrow, it’d probably be a different story.

But however, The Beatles were maturing, and the film soundtrack side in particular is impeccable. Everything from ‘Help!’ to ‘The Night Before’, ‘You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away’ to ‘Ticket To Ride’ was of incredibly high calibre, and breaking boundaries like never before. The second side, not so much, but c’mon – it has ‘Dizzy Miss Lizzy’!

DID YOU KNOW? The song ‘Help!’ was actually a cry for help from John, who was depressed, trapped by Beatlemania and unsure of the path of his life at the time. He later called this period (going from about late ’64 to late ’65 — poor thing) his ‘Fat Elvis Period’. Some of his best work (i.e. ‘You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away’, ‘Nowhere Man’) came from this period, but at a cruel cost.

BEST SONGS: The entire first side.

4. The Beatles (a.k.a. The White Album)

the white album

 

This would have been far from my favourite Beatles album if you’d asked me a couple of months ago. Then I went to the White Album Concert, and was utterly blown away! It came further and further to the top of this list, and it made it to here!

Everything (well, nearly everything) in this album is good. And the thing is that there’s something for everybody. Whether you like hard-rocking proto-metal (‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’, ‘Helter Skelter’), Eric Clapton (‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’), soft and hypnotic fingerpicking (‘Dear Prudence’, ‘Blackbird’), satirical social commentary (‘Piggies’), Paul’s — quote John — ‘granny s**t’ (‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’) or even 9-minute experimental avant-garde-ness that involves a monotone voice reciting ‘number nine, number nine’ and Yoko Ono saying ‘You become naked’ (‘Revolution 9’), there’s something for you. And then there’s more!

DID YOU KNOW? The White Album includes John’s only solo Beatle track, ‘Julia’. Paul had been recording stuff by himself and releasing it as The Beatles as early as Help!.

BEST SONGS: ‘Dear Prudence’, ‘Long Long Long’, ‘Cry Baby Cry’, ‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’, ‘Helter Skelter’, ‘Blackbird’– too many to list. That’s the beauty of a double album.

3. Abbey Road

Beatles_-_Abbey_Road

I used to always think of Abbey Road and Sgt. Pepper as part one and part two. Both experimental, both ahead-of-their-time — but I have always preferred Abbey Road. As with below (you’ll see what it is), I first heard it on a plane. I now own it on CD, and I listened to it yesterday — for what seems like the first time, properly. The bass lines sounded impeccable, it sounded like The Beatles were actually in the room singing ‘Because’, The Abbey Road Medley was better than it was before (a feat I thought impossible!)! Just, wow!

DID YOU KNOW? The last song The Beatles recorded together was ‘The End’ (the second-to-last track on AR, if you count ‘Her Majesty’ as a proper track), rather fittingly. Apparently it was pretty much the only session after John got together with Yoko that he attended without her (according to Geoff Emerick).

BEST SONGS: ‘Come T Just do yourself a favour and listen to the entire album.

2. Rubber Soul

rubber soul

Words (not even THE word – pun intended) cannot explain my love for this album. I heard this dead early in my Beatles fandom — only a month after I bought my first album, 1. As I said above, I first heard this on a plane. I hadn’t heard any of the songs before (excepting ‘Norwegian Wood’), and was I in for a treat! Some of the band’s most obscure numbers quickly became some of my favourites. And let’s just say it changed my life almost as much as 1 did. It’s my goal, in fact, to cover the entirety of this album. So far, I’ve done ‘The Word’, and I should be doing ‘I’m Looking Through You’ next.

DID YOU KNOW? The undistorted, cropped version of the cover (possibly my favourite picture of The Beatles) resurfaced after over 47 years early last year. It is still unknown whether it is genuine, but I like to think it is.

BEST SONGS: See ‘Best Songs’ for Abbey Road — or in other words (coincidentally, ‘The Word’ is playing), do yourself a favour and listen to the entire album.

And now for number one (drum roll please, Ringo)…

1. Revolver

Revolver

From the ‘one, two, three, four’ mutterings of ‘Taxman’ to the trippy piano outro of ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’, Revolver is undoubtedly a masterpiece. And in my opinion, it’s The Beatles’ best album. I first listened to this album (after being mind-blown by ‘I’m Only Sleeping’ two months earlier) in February, after bribing myself with it as a treat at the end of a particularly probing school day. And I was hooked. But nothing — nothing in this world AT ALL — quite affected me like a casual listening to my mono 1st-edition LP of the above one Tuesday evening. About halfway through ‘I’m Only Sleeping’, something hit me. An intense feeling of insane, euphoric love. That emotion continued through the rest of the album, whether it be to the acidic overdrive of ‘She Said She Said’ (my favourite Beatles song), to the clavichord in ‘For No One’, the chorusing in ‘Yellow Submarine’, to the tight, harmonised ‘oohs’ in ‘Here, There and Everywhere’. Of course I had thought before that The Beatles were the best thing that ever happened to the music world, or maybe even the world in general if I was feeling particularly ambitious. But it was only then for the first time that I actually knew it.

DID YOU KNOW? Suggested names for Revolver involved AbracadabraBeatles on Safari, Magic Circles and After Geography. Revolver was decided on three weeks before the release.

BEST SONGS: I’m not even going to tell you to do yourself a favour. It’s essential to your existence that you listen to this album. Every single song on this album is mind-blowing, IMO. Every. Single. Song.

 

So there you go — that’s my opinion. And sorry, that was insanely long (and I’ve been writing this for nearly two hours). But I hope you read it, and I promise I won’t go that long again. Have a fab rest of your day, wherever you are, and good day sunshine! 🙂