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)

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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)

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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)

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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!

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My Beatles Record Collection Pt. 7 — ‘Magical Mystery Tour and Other Splendid Hits’

I have always loved the fish-eye lens pictures from The Beatles' brief trip to India in 1966 with a passion. And I think I may have just found my favourite!

I have always loved the fish-eye lens pictures from The Beatles’ brief trip to India in 1966 with a passion. And I think I may have just found my favourite!

And so it is the 1st of March… Happy Autumn (or Spring, if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere)! In Adelaide, the month of March (or really, mid February ’till the end of March) is Festival Season. We have lots of music and arts festivals at this time of year, and it is a really awesome place to be! Tonight, I’m going to see a stage production of The Who’s Tommy (as a part of the Adelaide Festival), and next weekend I will be spending three days at WOMADelaide (a world music festival, with the best food, iced tea and shops, too!)! And in unrelated news, we are playing a Beatles medley in my school concert band! Yay! But onto the post…

‘My Beatles Record Collection’ is back — late… Sorry about that. But alas, this month I will be focusing on a The Beatles’ studio album which never really was a proper studio album — Magical Mystery TourMagical Mystery Tour was released (ironically) on December 8th, 1967, as the soundtrack to the ill-fated “film” of the same name (which I have only watched once. I didn’t hate it, but it was a bit odd…) In countries on which The Beatles were released on Parlophone, it was released as a double EP, complete with a fancy booklet and fancy packaging. But in the land of good ol’ Captiol Records (America), it was released as a full length LP along with the Beatles’ singles from ’67, because EPs were apparently “useless” at that point in time. But anyway, due to its different release methods, it is often debated between Beatles fans as to whether it should be included in the core discography or not. Ever since the ’87 remixes, EMI has included along with the core selection as a studio album as the material was never available on an actual studio album. But I am in the latter camp. Magical Mystery Tour, to me, is a Captiol compilation of a similar ilk to pretty much any Beatles album released in America before Sgt. Pepper. But oh well. As an album, some of the tracks include ‘Flying’, ‘Blue Jay Way’ (my favourite song on the album!), ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ and the famous ‘I Am The Walrus’ (goo goo g’joob). I’d say it is just as mad and psychedelic as Pepper, and I love mad psychedelia! 🙂

America was not the only place to have a Magical Mystery Tour LP, however. In 1970, the same album was released in Australia, under a slightly different title of Magical Mystery Tour and Other Splendid Hits. But it was not released on Apple, or Parlophone. It was released on a label named World Record Club (exclusively in Australia, according to the back!), which was a mail-order catalogue type thing. I obtained my copy in a cool record shop in Melbourne back in July, and apparently they are quite rare!

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This is the front cover. Note how it is so different to the US/official cover which we all know so well! The picture is a still from the ‘I Am The Walrus’ scene of the film. The font of the title is different, too. But then, the actual title itself is different too, so…

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This is the back cover (obviously!). I actually like the back cover, as it makes it clear to the listener which songs are from the film, and which ones are “other selections”. I find it interesting how some quirky pieces of text which are synonymous with the original EP/LP — like the “‘No, you’re not!’ said Little Nicola” bit underneath ‘I Am The Walrus’, and the production being credited to ‘Big George Martin’ — are included on the back of this version, too! Oh, and that little star in the top right-hand corner says ‘STEREO’, by the way. By the time that MMT was released in Australia as an LP, mono had long been not used for albums. The Beatles were in fact the first popular band to utilise stereo, as far back as Please Please Me. Funny to think how all The Beatles’ albums were packed in between 1963 – 1970. Amazing…

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This is the vinyl itself! The inner sleeve is quite interesting, as it is made of quite thick, translucent plastic — as opposed to the paper or flimsier, transparent plastic inner sleeves of the Parlophone/Apple releases. You can see the WRC record label here, too. According to Wikipedia, WRC was actually owned by EMI from 1965 onwards — which would explain why the inclusion of a Beatles album in one of those mail order catalogues (they usually weren’t included).

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A close-up of the label. The actual text isn’t that different to what one would discover on a regular Beatles release label, though of course the label itself is. Apparently WRC felt a need to point out that it should spin at 33 1/3 RPM…

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And a close-up of the vinyl! It’s in really, really good condition — near mint, actually! The vinyl is still very shiny — to the point where I had to have a few goes to try and not get my iPad reflected on the vinyl! And for a record made in 1970, the vinyl is quite heavyweight. (A lot heavier than the flimsy ‘orange label’ reissues of the same time, anyway…) It plays really well, so I am pleased!

And there we go…done for another month. I am especially looking forward to doing this month’s ‘MBRC’, as it is time for a very special double album. And I am lucky enough to have an equally special pressing of this album…

Oh, and yesterday (February 28th) would have been the 73rd birthday of my favourite Stone, Brian Jones! Lately, I have been doing a lot of reading on Brian (and The Stones). Amongst other things, Brian was a huge influence on The Stones in the early days, and he was an amazing multi-instrumentalist who made many good Stones songs great. I shall write a proper post about him at some point in the future, but for now, I shall post a few pictures of him below. Happy birthday, Brian!

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I’ll go back to my normal blogging schedule next week, I think. I have a great Beatley idea which has been in the works for a very good while, and it shall see the light of day next week! But until then, good day sunshine 🙂

‘Through The Looking Glass’

 

The 'cover' of my 'debut single' (okay, not really my debut single...) - drawn/designed by moi!

The ‘cover’ of my ‘debut single’ (okay, not really my debut single…) – drawn/designed by moi! Was going to upload it today, but WordPress won’t let me… Oh, and Sadie Rigby is my proposed stage-name (my real name being too susceptible to mispronunciations) – guess which two Beatles tunes I drew inspiration from!

 

Well – I thought it was about time I published another poem! This one is called ‘Through The Looking Glass’, and is about – you guessed it – the Lewis Carroll classic, Alice Through The Looking Glass. I wrote this one for the ‘Art and Poetry’ division of a “academic gala day” called the da Vinci Decathlon. It involves ten divisions (hence the event name), including engineering, maths (or ‘mathematics’), English, philosophy, science, code-breaking, cartography, acting, general knowledge and – obviously – art and poetry (don’t ask me why poetry wasn’t in English…). I wasn’t involved in the science/maths-related tasks (much stronger in more creative/wordy/arty/musical subjects…), but I helped out with English, philosophy, acting, general knowledge and – again, obviously – art and poetry. In the general knowledge division, one of the questions was ‘Name the Beatles album about a tour’ (Magical Mystery Tour – and it’s not even a proper studio album (it was only released in the US at first), as I pointed out on the bus trip back to school, that day), to my delight! But – back on topic – I wrote the poem for the art and poetry bit (the theme of which was ‘Through The Looking Glass’) to order, so I feel know I can do better, but I’m quite proud of it (if I say so myself!). Oh, and my school won the Art and Poetry, and came third overall! I quoted ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’ for a couple of lines, so see if you can spot what parts I am referring to. Here it is:

 

Through The Looking Glass

Hair the colour of freshly-fallen snow,

A dress of sapphire-blue sky;

The ‘angel’ trips and slips through the glass –

‘Agh,’ she screams as she plummets down,

through blatantly-beastly black.

Our ‘angel’ awakes amongst chaos and magic –

‘ROAR,’ yells the lion, ‘splat’ cracks the egg.

Marmalade trees, kaleidoscope eyes,

Newspaper taxis, marshmallow pies.

A cloud of ruby-coloured royalty sashays through the land;

A tart in her palm, a dagger in her sleeve.

In a midst of fury, she thrusts it at the picturesque young girl;

‘Help!’ she cries as she draws her last breath.

The glass that was the entry to this world, shattered by murder.

The angel’s once-blue dress now stained with the colour of fire.

 

So there you go – a poem that is about two months old and quite obviously written to order, but I don’t mind it at all (otherwise it wouldn’t be up here!). Now, I was going to post my cover of ‘Norwegian Wood’, but it looks like WordPress want me to purchase a ‘Space Upgrade’ to enable me to post M4a files. Well, WordPress – I’ll get you back, some day! Back on topic, though – hope you enjoyed my poem, and good day sunshine! 🙂

 

 

 

The Poll On The Hill

 

Wouldn't this be just fab to have on your wall? Sadly, I do not own one as of yet.

Wouldn’t this be just fab to have on your wall? Sadly, I do not own one as of yet.

 

Excuse my incredibly lame pun – I think it’s the worst I’ve come up with yet (you’re trying too hard, tangerinetrees99!)! This blogging session’s album is Magical Mystery Tour, and the title track is just finishing – as all Beatlemaniacs know, ‘The Fool On The Hill’ is the second track (it just started), and I’ve already done a ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ pun, so guess what I’m punning on this time?!

But anyway – as one would think – I’m going to post a poll. I’m also going to assume that your computer/phone/tablet/MP3 player/whatever internet-enabled device you’re reading this on doesn’t also take form as a hill, so it will not be a ‘poll on the hill’. As you’ve probably guessed, I have a tendency to go off on tangents, so I will post the poll before this turns into the word-count of the millennium (yay – ‘Blue Jay Way’ just came on!).

 

 

I love hearing who people’s favourite Beatles are – you can find out a lot about that person from their answer. I’d also love to see who’s the most popular Beatle out of everyone who can withstand my lame puns, thus reads this blog, so please vote! As you will have probably gathered from my ‘Welcome’ post (and my ‘When The Beatles Drove Us Wild’ review), my favourite Beatle is John/John Winston Lennon/John Ono Lennon/Dr Winston O’Boogie/Johnny, whose song ‘I Am The Walrus’ has just come on (and I bet you I’ll be in hysterics in a few seconds!)! Anyway, I’m going to get a tan from the British (Australian??) rain – which was pouring down in thick sheets just a second ago, but has seemingly stopped – with a walrus and the eggmen (more puns)! Good day rain/sunshine 🙂

 

My “Magical Mystery Tour” To Melbourne

Hi all,

Today, we are coming back to Adelaide (I am currently writing this in the QANTAS lounge!), from Melbourne.

I had a fantastic time at the Beatles In Australia exhibit, but it was slightly different to it’s Sydney equivalent. I was disappointed to see that John’s suit had not made an appearance (it must have been sent back to the V&A, where it is kept), and that the gift shop was fairly limited (I did, however, purchase an Anthology 2 disc!) but it was still fabulous! It’s quite ironic, really, that John, Paul, George and Ringo can still create the same euphoria that they did all those years ago, isn’t it? Look out, future children/godchildren/nieces/nephews – prepared to be brainwashed with the Fab Four! Sadly, photography was prohibited within the exhibition (probably because of Apple Corps.’ strict copyright laws), but here is the link to the accompanying website, plus a sneaky shot of me out the front!

http://www.thebeatlesinaustralia.com/

Posing as the Fifth Beatle at the entrance to the exhibition - note t-shirt with incredibly-attractive picture of John and Paul!

Posing as the Fifth Beatle at the entrance to the exhibition – note t-shirt with incredibly-attractive picture of John and Paul!

The exhibition (in Melbourne) included sights such as a drumhead signed by Ringo, a block of stone from the urinal at The Cavern, a jukebox stacked with all the singles released by The Fabs before June ’64 (when they came), a projection of ‘The Beatles Sing For Shell’ (a TV broadcast of one of their Melbourne concerts from ’64) and one of John’s famous Lennon caps that he had actually worn (!). If you’re in Melbourne before July 1st, go and check it out – it’s a must-see for every Beatlemaniac!

Despite the fact Beatles merchandise within the exhibition was limited, I managed to find a stall in the Queen Victoria Markets which was selling band t-shirts – I found one with an incredibly-attractive picture of John and Paul repeated film-style over a black background. I also found an official Beatles postcard in a vintage clothing shop (in which I also bought a gorgeous 1960s orange shift-dress, that fits perfectly!). My latest editions to my collection of Beatle-y things are pictured below.

Left to right: ‘Anthology 2’ CD, exhibition pamphlet, John and Paul tee and Beatles postcard.

When The Beatles Drove Us Wild is on tonight (as you probably already know) – apparently, it scans everything from the concerts to their effect on society, from the famous campaign to bring them to Adelaide (thanks, Bob Francis!) to groupies, and according to The Advertiser, John says something “that will pierce your heart” at the end (what are you going to say, Johnny?). Make sure you tune in!

Also, it’s my Dad’s birthday (da da da da da da, da da) today – if you’re reading this, Dad, happy birthday; hope you  had a great day!

So anyway, have a great rest of your Tuesday (I’m missing a day of school – how fun!), and enjoy my Beatles picture of the week! Bye for now.

Isn't this just so darn cute?!

Isn’t this just so darn cute?!