Released in 1964, Richard Lester's arnachic musical comedy starring The Beatles was a huge breath of fresh air at the time, and still feels surprisingly fresh today. Breaking the mould of sanitised pop films, such as Cliff Richard and the Shadows' Summer Holiday or any of Elvis's efforts, it's a fictional documentary of a perceived Day In the Life of the Fab Four, underpinned with gentle satire.
Shot in a black-and-white cinéma vérité style, there's some enjoyable slapstick here - with shades of Buster Keaton and the Keystone Cops - experimental creative photography (in line with the then current fad of nouvelle vague), and even some promising acting, especially from John Lennon (who went on feature in Lester's How I Won The War and Ringo Starr (who later co-starred with Peter Sellers in The Magic Christian).
Filmed at the height of the whirlwind madness of early 1960s Beatlemania, one of the film's strengths is that the Beatles are allowed to be themselves, as much as possible. Taking off at a rip-roaring pace and rarely pausing for breath, the film follows the group as they arrive at a theatre, rehearse and finally perform a TV special. On hand to provide solid comic support are Wilfrid Brambell (as Paul McCartney's grandfather), Norman Rossington and John Junkin.
A Hard Day's Night shows The Beatles as prisoners of their own fame, very much exactly how the group felt at that time, bound to punishing performance and studio schedules. And, without doubt, it's the best of The Beatles' movie jaunts, towering way above Help!, Magical Mystery Tour and the depressing Let It Be.