Many pop stars, from Elvis Presley to Mariah Carey, have tried their hand at being film stars. The Beatles stand out from the pack because they made multiple films often considered classics. A Hard Day’s Night and Yellow Submarine are often considered two of the best films of the 1960s.
Of course, not every Beatles movie was universally acclaimed. John Lennon had some very strong criticisms for some of the Beatles’ films. In fact, he said one of the Beatles films managed to infuriate the Fab Four.
John Lennon’s problems with the Beatles film ‘A Hard Day’s Night’
In 1971, Jann S. Wenner famously interviewed John for Rolling Stone. The lengthy interview would become the most well-known of John’s career. It was even published as a book called Lennon Remembers. In the exchange, John mostly discussed music but he also shared his opinions on certain films.
Surprisingly, he wasn’t a big fan of the film A Hard Day’s Night. That movie is often considered one of the Beatles’ best. In fact, some critics consider A Hard Day’s Night to be revolutionary for its storytelling. John, however, was disappointed by the finished product.
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He told Wenner “The story wasn’t bad but it could have been better. Another illusion was that we were just puppets and that these great people, like [the Beatles’ manager] Brian Epstein and [the film’s director] Dick Lester, created the situation and made this whole f*ckin’ thing, and precisely because we were what we were, realistic. We didn’t want to make a f*ckin’ sh*tty pop movie… and we insisted on having a real writer to write it.”
John elaborated on why the film disappointed the band. “We were a bit infuriated by the glibness and shiftiness of the dialogue and we were always trying to get it more realistic, but they wouldn’t have it. It ended up O.K., but the next one was just bullsh*t, because it really had nothing to do with the Beatles. They just put us here and there. Dick Lester was good, he had ideas ahead of their times, like using Batman comic strip lettering and balloons.”
How did audiences react to the film?
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The Beatles clearly weren’t big fans of the movie. However, it was a massive success with the public. In fact, Vanity Fair reports A Hard Day’s Night was the first movie in the history of cinema to be profitable while it was still being filmed!
How did this happen? The film’s soundtrack was released before the film was. Because the studio behind the movie, United Artists, owned the rights to the soundtrack, they quickly received a return on their investment.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the film grossed over $12 million — a hefty sum for the early 1960s. A Hard Day’s Night even got rereleased to theaters in 2014. Clearly, the film struck a chord — even if the Beatles didn’t like it much.
Also see: John Lennon Was Sometimes ‘Embarrassed’ by an Album Ringo Starr Loved Making