The Beatles took America by storm during their first visit to the U.S. in 1964. Just one month after their historic television appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, the band started working on a film that would bring Beatlemania to the big screen. A Hard Day’s Night captured the boyish charm of the four lads from Liverpool (John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Harrison) who would change the face of popular music the world over. “Directed with raucous, anything-goes verve by Richard Lester and featuring a slew of iconic pop anthems, including the title track, “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “I Should Have Known Better,” and “If I Fell,” A Hard Day’s Night, which reconceived the movie musical and exerted an incalculable influence on the music video, is one of the most deliriously entertaining movies of all time,” Janus Films writes. Criterion has restored the movie from the original 35mm camera negative for a first-time Blu-ray release that hit last month. In celebration of the release, A Hard Day’s Night is screening in select theaters this weekend. Here are 25 fun facts about the moptopped movie in preparation for your viewing.
The film’s working title was Beatlemania, but a new title was agreed upon when Ringo made an off-the-cuff comment after an exhausting day, inventing the phrase “A hard day’s night.”
The movie’s title track was written in one day, eight days before filming. The band played it for producer Walter Shenson in their dressing room the following morning.
The movie was called Yeah Yeah Yeah in Germany, Tutti Per Uno (All for One) in Italy, Quatre Garçons Dans Le Vent (Four Boys in the Wind) in France, Yeah! Yeah! Tässä tulemme! (Yeah! Yeah! Here We Come!) in Finland, and Os Reis do Iê-Iê-Iê (The Kings of Yeah-Yeah-Yeah) in Brazil.
A Hard Day’s Night was shot, edited, and mixed in just four months.
Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon attended the movie’s premiere at the London Pavilion on July 6, 1964 (the eve of Ringo’s 24th birthday and the 7th anniversary of Lennon and Paul meeting after John’s former band, The Quarrymen, performed at a Garden Fete.). Over 200,000 fans greeted the band for the film’s Liverpool debut.
A Hard Day’s Night competed for two Academy Awards, but lost in the Best Screenplay (Alan Owen) and Best Adapted Score (George Martin) categories. Weirdly enough, The Beatles didn’t win any nominations for their original songs.
It’s widely believed that in the scene where a reporter asks Lennon if he has any hobbies, he snatches another reporter’s notepad and writes the word “Tits” in response.
Model and artist Pattie Boyd appears in several scenes in the movie (she was one of the schoolgirls on the train, for example). Boyd fell in love with future husband George Harrison during filming.
In the “I’m Just Happy to Dance With You” scene, there’s a visual pun featuring a backdrop of beetles, the insects, behind the dancers.
Ringo’s solo scene at the riverside won critical praise, but his “acting” was actually the result of a hangover. He admitted:
Getting up early in the morning wasn’t our best talent and there’s an example of that in one scene: the one for which I got really good credit, walking by the river with a camera – the ‘lonely guy’ piece. I had come directly to work from a nightclub (very unprofessional) and was a little hungover, to say the least. Dick Lester had all his people there, and the kid that I was supposed to be doing the scene with, but I had no brain. I’d gone. We tried it several ways. They tried it with the kid doing his lines and someone off camera shouting mine. Then they had me doing the lines of the kid and the kid going ‘blah blah blah’. Or me saying, ‘And another thing, little guy…’ I was so out of it, they said, ‘Well’ let’s do anything.’ I said, ‘Let me just walk around and you film me,’ and that’s what we did. And why I look so cold and dejected is because I felt like shit. There’s no acting going on; I felt that bad.
Paul’s quotes Shakespeare’s Hamlet to his dressing room mirror: “Oh, that this too, too solid flesh would melt… Zap!”
The tailor in the film is The Beatles’ real tailor.
A Hard Day’s Night scribe Alun Owen, who spent several days observing the band before writing the movie, created “types” for each of the musicians: Lennon was the smart-ass, Paul was the cute and sensible one, George was the quiet and shy type, while Ringo was the laconic clown.
“The Beatles” is never mentioned in the movie’s dialogue, but the band’s name appears throughout the film.
A teenage Phil Collins appears in the audience during a scene set to “You Can’t Do That,” but it was cut from the film.
The crowd chasing the band at the beginning of the movie is a group of real fans.
The film popularized the word “grotty” (grotesque), which writer Alun Owen claimed was a term spoken in Liverpool. It was the first time the band had ever heard the word.
The decision to shoot in black and white was economical, not artistic.
Director Richard Lester stood in for Lennon during the scene where the Beatles escape to a field outside, set to “Can’t Buy Me Love.” The Beatle was busy that day, promoting his book, In His Own Write, at Foyles in London.
The absurdity of the news conference scene, which featured several real journalists, was meant to mimic the band’s press reception in New York during their first America tour. During their 1964 appearance, reporters were amused by the “Beatlemania” craze and frequently responded to the group in a condescending manner.
Studio United Artists was concerned about how the Beatles would appear on film and even considered dubbing their voices, replacing them with those of trained actors. Lester refused to allow that to happen.
There were two million advance orders for the movie’s soundtrack.
The climactic concert scene was captured with six cameras, in front of a 350-member audience full of screaming fans. A cameraman made a remark that the roar of the crowd loosened the fillings in his teeth.
The Le Cercle gambling club Ringo is invited to is the same nightspot where James Bond makes his first appearance in Dr. No.
Lester greatly admired the work of the French New Wave directors and aimed to copy their style using hand-held cameras, swish pans, jump cuts, and more.