Carter B. Horsley
In his October 27,
1996 review, Roger Ebert wrote that "After more than three decades, it has
not aged and is not dated; it stands outside its time, its genre and even rock.
It is one of the great life-affirming landmarks of the movies."
"...It was clear from the outset that 'A Hard Day's
Night' was in a different category from the rock musicals that had starred
Elvis and his imitators. It was smart, it was irreverent, it didn't take itself
seriously, and it was shot and edited by Richard Lester in an electrifying
black-and-white, semi-documentary style that seemed to follow the boys during a
day in their lives. And it was charged with the personalities of the Beatles,
whose one-liners dismissed the very process of stardom they were undergoing.
'Are you a mod or a rocker?' Ringo is asked at a press conference. 'I'm a
mocker,' he says....
"The film is wall to wall with great songs, including
'I Should Have Known Better,' 'Can't Buy Me Love,' 'I Wanna Be Your Man,' 'All
My Loving,' 'Happy Just to Dance With You,' 'She Loves You,' and others,
including the title song, inspired by a remark dropped by Starr and written
overnight by Lennon and McCartney.
"The Beatles were obviously not housebroken....Although
their manager (Norman Rossington) tries to control them and their TV director
(Victor Spinetti) goes berserk because of their improvisations during a live TV
broadcast, they act according to the way they feel.
In his June 2, 2014 review at blu-ray.com, Dr. Svet Atanasov provides the following commentary:
"Richard Lester's pseudo-documentary A Hard Day's Night has
that unique energy that is present in many of Jean-Luc Godard's early films. It
is so overwhelming that it is almost irrelevant where the film wants to go and
how it wants to get there.
"The film beings in Liverpool,
where George, John, Paul, and Ringo board a train together with their manager
Norm (Norman Rossington) and Paul's grandfather (Wifred Brambell). They are on
their way to London,
where the Beatles are scheduled to perform live on a popular TV show. While
traveling, the boys try to relax but are frequently annoyed by pretentious
adults and distracted by beautiful young girls.
Lennon in bath with toy submarine
the boys are constantly on the move -- they meet curious reporters, talk to
excited producers, and routinely try to avoid large crowds of screaming girls.
They never seem to have any free time to rehearse or entertain themselves.
Ringo beng chased
"Hours before the band is to perform live, Ringo disguises
himself with a trenchcoat and disappears. The show's producer (Victor Spinetti)
panics and everyone goes on the streets looking for Ringo.
Harrison gives "mirror" shave
"The film was scripted but it frequently looks and feels like
George, John, Paul, and Ringo are simply being themselves while Lester's camera
observes them from afar. The magic is in the careful framing and editing. The
entire film is essentially a large collection of uneven episodes blending
behind- the-scenes footage with music clips that remind of the various music
mockumentaries MTV popularized. However, these episodes are so effectively
framed and edited that the energy they sustain until the final credits roll
makes it quite easy for one to believe that George, John, Paul, and Ringo might
have been unaware that Lester's camera was filming them....
Ringo trying to sneak a banana
Harrison, Lennon and Ringo
"In the U.S, a different version of the album was released. In
addition to the songs from the UK
version, there were four instrumental tracks from the film's soundtrack
performed by George Martin's Orchestra. The U.S.
version of A Hard Day's Night was released a month before the UK version (in
late June 1964).
"The original soundtrack of A Hard Day's Night was in mono.
However, because the studio album was recorded entirely on four-track tape,
consequently a stereo versions of it was created."