July 29: The Beatles movie Help! was released in 1965
“The movie was out of our control. With A Hard Day’s Night, we had a lot of input, and it was semi-realistic. But with Help!, Dick Lester didn’t tell us what it was all about.”
– John Lennon on filming Help!
“I realize, looking back, how advanced it was. It was a precursor to the Batman “Pow! Wow!” on TV—that kind of stuff. But [Lester] never explained it to us. Partly, maybe, because we hadn’t spent a lot of time together between A Hard Day’s Night and Help!, and partly because we were smoking marijuana for breakfast during that period. Nobody could communicate with us, it was all glazed eyes and giggling all the time. In our own world. It’s like doing nothing most of the time, but still having to rise at 7 am, so we became bored.”
– John Lennon to David Sheff
Help! is a 1965 film directed by Richard Lester, starring the Beatles–John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr—and featuring Leo McKern, Eleanor Bron, Victor Spinetti, John Bluthal, Roy Kinnear and Patrick Cargill. Help! was the second feature film made by the Beatles and is a comedy adventure which sees the group come up against an evil cult.
Not as enjoyable as A Hard Day’s Night but almost, I love it!
The Beatles later said the film was shot in a “haze of marijuana”. According to Starr’s interviews in The Beatles Anthology, during the Austrian Alps film shooting, he and McCartney ran off over the hill from the “curling” scene set to smoke a joint.
The soundtrack was released as an album, also called Help!
Trailer for the restored version:
The Beatles said the film was inspired by the Marx Brothers classic Duck Soup. It was also directly satirical of the James Bond series of films.
The humour of the film is strongly influenced by the abstract humour of the Goon Show, the director had personal and direct experience in the conversion of the radio format to television, and personal working experience with Peter Sellers in particular. Beatles recording producer George Martin had also produced records for the Goon Show team. McCartney has always said that the Beatles style of humour was taken from the Goon Show. Many of the film’s concepts are derived from Goon Shows, such as the presence of wild animals, music, and abstractions such as the closing statement that concludes the film.
The Beatles – The Night Before (clip from the movie):
… a forerunner to music videos. … Lester seemed to find the right tone for Help!, creating an enjoyable portrait of the Beatles and never allowing the film to take itself too seriously. His style would later be co-opted by Bob Rafaelson for the Monkees’ television series in the ’60s and has continued to influence rock musicals like Spice World in 1998
– Allmovie‘s Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.
Swedish poster for Help!
There’s a good Blu-ray release from 2013, well worth buying!