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A Hard Day's Night
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Length:1h 32mins
Cast:Richard Lester, Wilfrid Brambell

Very little needs to be said about this trend-setting 1964 classic: Simply put, A Hard Day's Night is the finest rock 'n' roll comedy ever made. It hit America shortly after the Beatles themselves did, and with the Fab Four as popular as they were, Stateside audiences would've been happy just to see and hear John, Paul, George, and Ringo perform such hit songs as "Can't Buy Me Love," "I Should Have Known Better," "And I Love Her," and the title tune. But director Richard Lester (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum), working from a script by Alun Owen, further delighted moviegoers with his wonderfully offbeat, visually inventive chronicle of a 36-hour period in the group's hectic life. He made no attempt to turn the Beatles into actors but encouraged them to give free rein to their naturally zany impulses; the result was a wacky, fast-paced romp with a carefully cultivated air of spontaneity and hokey sight gags reminiscent of silent-era comedies. Initially designed to capitalize on the group's burgeoning popularity, A Hard Day's Night was, as expected, wildly successful -- but it proved to be surprisingly influential as well, inspiring Britain's Monty Python troupe, American "mockumentaries" such as This Is Spinal Tap, and even Hong Kong action star Jackie Chan! Happily, A Hard Day's Night remains just as vital as it was in 1964, reminding us again how very special the boys from Liverpool really were. Ed Hulse

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