Beatles Movies

Beatle Movies: A Hard Days Night, Help, Magical Mystery Tour and Let It Be.

A Hard Day’s Night – The plot was the Beatles on their way to a television appearance and the chaos that happens on the way there. Fans are chasing them everywhere and this part was in real life identical. Throw in Paul’s movie grandfather and you have the movie. The film is rated in the top 100 of some movie lists. The sound track is great and the Beatles were natural comedians and they had a witty script. A Hard Day’s Night was very close to real life because it was partly written by someone who went on tour with the Beatles and wrote some first hand information.

The Beatles were compared to the Marx Brothers when the movie came out. This movie is where their image was set in the public’s eye…John the intellectual, Paul the cute one, George the quiet one and Ringo the funny one (all of them were funny) of course it wasn’t that simple in real life.

This is the best movie they made and it fit them perfectly. I was fortunate enough to see this at a movie theater when it was re-released in 2000. Seeing the movie they way it was shown in 1964 was a great experience.

Help – A religious cult lost a ring that they had to have for a sacrifice ritual… Guess who had the ring? Ringo of course… the ring would not come off of his hand so they made trips to various places to help Ringo including Scotland Yard and mad scientists. The film looks great restored with vivid color. The filming locations included England, Austria and the Bahamas. The cinematography of the movie was great.

This was my introduction to Beatles movies and although not critically acclaimed it still is a good movie. John didn’t think much of the movie…his quote was “it was like being a frog in a movie about clams.”…it is enjoyable all the same. I’ve probably watched it more than any of their movies.

Magical Mystery Tour – The Beatles making a colorful home movie is the best way to describe it. The music makes the movie. It was a psychedelic trip that most Beatles fans enjoy. Where else can you see a video of I Am the Walrus, Blue Jay Way and The Fool on the Hill? They play 4 wizards that…well…. they play 4 wizards. I have seen this movie multiple times and every time I think maybe I missed something previously and its better than I remember…no… except you get to see them in their psychedelic phase and above all else the music. I can’t say I don’t enjoy it but only a little at a time.

It has been restored with a “making of” included with it. I enjoyed the documentary more than the movie, It’s not for non Beatles fans but for Beatles fans its a fascinating look an interesting time for them. I have to admit I like scenes from this movie more than the whole movie like Lennon’s spaghetti scene I Am the Walrus scene… The ending with the tuxedos is pretty cool also.

Yellow Submarine – A beautiful animated movie with the Beatles looking for Pepperland. I saw this as a kid and was mesmerized by the colors and these strange talking characters. Most of the soundtrack are older songs and orchestrated music by George Martin. The Beatles didn’t even do the voices because they were not really interested but ended up loving the movie. They did appear at the end of the movie in person.

This movie is very enjoyable for kids and adults. I pull it out every year and watch it.  My favorite character is Jeremy who helps and hinders and is a unique character in the movie to say the least. The animation is terrific and ahead of it’s time. To some people this is their favorite Beatles movie. Watch this movie if you can… it is enjoyable.

Let It Be – A record of the Beatles breaking up. They stayed together for another year but this is a glimpse of the tensions that were happening. I’m a huge Beatles fan but it is hard watching this movie at times but I do like it. The first half is somewhat depressing but the second half lightens up when Billy Preston starts playing keyboards and they move the recording to the Apple headquarters. The rooftop scene is great and it is the last live performance of them and I would like to see the complete performance. Every time I watch I hope they will work it out… of course it won’t happen. You see George and Paul have a small fight and you see Yoko sticking to John like glue.

The music is great of course… from Let It Be to I Dig a Pony. You get the rawest Beatles performance since they played in Hamburg warts and all. I have a bootleg copy of this and it was actually released on laser disc but a blue ray release will not happen anytime soon because from what I’ve read the Harrison and Lennon (Yoko) estate does not want it released. I’ve also read where Paul and Ringo don’t like it and I’ve read where they don’t care. They have released so much…why not finish the story and release this…

It’s been so many years ago and it’s not like it hasn’t been documented that they were not getting along. This is for Beatles fans only.

 

 

Saturday Night Live

It started out as Saturday Night… Saturday Night Live title belonged to ABC for a show hosted by Howard Cosell who was out of his league. ABC let Saturday Night have the Live part after Cosell’s show was over.

Who was the best cast through the years? This is a question that is debated over and over again. The people arguing usually picks the cast they grew up with. I grew up with Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo. Personally, I always thought the original cast was the best and it wasn’t even close. John Belushi, Dan Ackroyd, Chevy Chase (though I liked his replacement better…Bill Murray), Gilda Radner, Jane Curtin, Garrett Morris and my favorite overlooked cast member Laraine Newman.

Why do I like the original cast the most? They tried new things and went out on a limb. Some of the skits succeeded some didn’t but they were different from anything on TV at that time…and also at this time. That cast pushed the envelop to use a worn-out phrase but in this instance it is true. Lorne Michaels guided the show and even the musical guests were usually hip bands and artists unknown to the general public and some are legendary now. No way would Michaels ever dream of that now…he usually gets whoever is the most popular to draw in the ratings. He could not do what he did in the 70s anymore because of ratings…and it is sad. Michaels also used the complete ensemble. It was not the Eddie Murphy and the Joe Piscopo show of the early eighties. It was about getting an unknown cast and building them and all of them having a shot…not a star-driven show that gave all the best bits to the stars.

A lot of the skits are now famous… Ackroyd’s Bassomatic, the Samurai, the uncomfortable but funny Word Association with Richard Pryor, The Mr. Bill Show, Weekend Update, Roseanne Rosannadanna, Land Shark, Bag of Glass, The Wild and Crazy Guys, the Coneheads, The Lounge Singer, Mr. Mike, The Blues Brothers and many more.

The writers for the show were not in the Carol Burnett comedy vein..they were not in the current SNL vein either. The style was more aggressive, especially with Michael O’Donoghue. He was a comedy trailblazer with National Lampoon and added dark humor to SNL. Other writers were Franken and Davis, Rosie Shuster, Alan Zweibel, Marilyn Miller, Anne Beatts, Herb Sargent, Tom Schiller and also Ackroyd and Chase.

The two members that didn’t get as much publicity as the others were Newman and Morris and are not as well remembered today. Newman and Ackroyd were the best character actors on the show…they could play anyone.  That cast tried to test all the limits. SNL has turned into just another comedy show through the years. The original group also did some serious skits along with comedy and trips into the bizarre (See Mr. Mike). …It separated the original from any other cast.

There were other great casts but none resonated like the original to me. It was also the timing of when they debuted…and look at the talent in that cast…

The host each week was usually under the radar actors, writers, musicians and sometimes athletes. You usually didn’t see A-list actors but if you did they were carefully chosen. The one big mistake was Milton Berle…how he got to host I don’t know but that is the only show of the first five years I will try to avoid… He was that bad.

I like the feel of underground the first five years had but you can only be that for so long…popularity takes over. Those first 5 great years (the first four were great…the fifth good) set the foundation that holds to this day…just without the daring and danger…in other words, it has become vanilla like the rest of the world.

Cheers to the show that introduced Acapulco Gold to a television audience.

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The Bassomatic…something you cannot explain with words.

The best Star Trek parody…

Needless changes to the original Star Wars

In 1977 a New Hope (then just called Star Wars) came out. It blew out records and changed Hollywood. The original first 3 came out at a perfect time. Science Fiction was not a sure box office hit then and it’s a wonder George Lucas got it made. Some of the script writing was iffy but as a whole, it was a wonderful saga. Not only were the movies good but the merchandising went crazy.

The prequels I just didn’t like. The feel of the originals was gone. Lucas said he wanted a change but he changed it just to another space flick. Anakin Skywalker played by Hayden Christensen just wasn’t right. Either bad casting combined with a bad script but to me, he was not convincing. He did do better in Revenge of the Sith but still, in my opinion, it wasn’t where it should have been. Ewan Mcgregor was wonderful as Obi-Wan and the standout to me in all the prequels.

What Lucas did to the original three re-releasing them caught backlash from fans. Changing some scenes…where Han shoots first and adding more decoration throughout the films. What made me upset is Lucas only offered a poor quality DVD set of the original three in 2006 without the changes. One dedicated fan Petr Harmáček spent half a decade tracking down high-quality prints of the 3 original films and put them back together and it’s called “Star Wars Despecialized Edition” that you can download. Petr did a great job with these and it shows you how great these looked when they were released.

There was no need for extra CGI decoration when these movies were re-released. I have nothing against CGI but I do like to see the films as the audience did way back when. When I went to see “The Force Awakens” I knew within the first 5 minutes that Star Wars had the same feel as the first ones. I also liked Rogue One and The Last Jedi…The Last Jedi got some complaints but I still liked it. It was a great send off for Carrie Fisher.

 

Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton

Charlie and Buster were two of the best screen comedians ever to walk the earth. They both had similar upbringings. Buster and his family in American vaudeville. Charlie worked in British music halls. Charlie rose to stardom in silent movies in the 1910’s beginning with Keystone, Mutual (where he made his best short comedies)  Essanay and then he confounded United Artist with Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and W. D. Griffith. After that Charlie went into full feature films.

Buster started silent shorts in 1917 with Roscoe Arbuckle. After Roscoe broke out on his own so did Buster….he did some more short films which were brilliant. He then went into full features. Buster was just so different than anyone else. He was so still while the world moved in chaos around him. He was a brilliant actor-director and also writer which he often didn’t take credit for doing. If Buster would have just made “The General” his place in film history would be cemented. The same can be said of Charlie Chaplin and his masterpiece “The Gold Rush.”

There was no competition between the two in popularity. Charlie won hands down over Buster and probably everyone else in comedy and drama. His character “The Tramp” was internationally loved. All in all Keaton was a better film maker. They were two different comedians. Chaplin would reach for pathos…sometimes a little too much. Keaton seemed much more real. Keaton’s site gags were incredible and sometimes dangerous to his health…like have a front of a building that weighed a ton (so it wouldn’t twist in the wind) fall on him with the upstairs opening clearing him around 2 inches on each side. He never smiled because it would have ruined his character. Both are worth watching and with Keaton’s films like Sherlock Jr…you wonder how he did some of the things he did with the primitive camera’s they used.

Both were funny men. The other big comedian was Harold Lloyd but he was more of an actor playing a comedian….he was really successful though… second to Chaplin in making money.

 

 

Charlie and Buster older both appear in Charlie’s Limelight.