A Hard Day’s Night

Director: Richard Lester
Screenwriters: Alun Owen

Institute History


Special Guest: Director Richard Lester

In 1964, Lester's A Hard Day's Night exploded onto American screens with rave reviews, playing to packed theatres of wildly enthusiastic Beatles fans. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times, however, was one of the first to see the film's true cinematic and comedic Brilliance apart from the phenomenon of the Fab Four. From his original August, 1964 review: This is going to surprise you—it may knock you right out of your chair-but the new film with those incredible chaps, the Beatles, is a whale of a comedy . . . In the first place, it's a wonderfully lively and altogether good-natured spoof of the juvenile madness called "Beatlemania," the current spreading craze of otherwise healthy young people for the four British lads with the shaggy hair . . . But more than this, it's a line conglomeration of madcap clowning in the old Marx Brothers' style, and it is done with such a dazzling use of camera that it tickles the intellect and electrifies the nerves.

This is the major distinction of this commercially sure fire film: it is much more sophisticated in theme and technique than its seemingly frivolous matter promises . . . There's no use in trying to chart it [the story]. lt comes in fast-flowing spurts a sight gags and throw-away dialogue that is flipped about recklessly. Alun Owen, who wrote the screenplay, may have dug it all out of his brain, but Richard Lester has directed at such a brisk clip that it seems to come spontaneously. And just one musical sequence, for instance, when the boys tumble wildly out of doors and race eccentrically about a patterned playground to the tune of their song "Can't Buy Me Love," hits a surrealistic tempo that approaches audio visual poetry.

A Hard Day's Night was a sweet breath of fresh air in 1964 and still is, creating (not simply reflecting) the jubilation surrounding the Beatles. Owen’s script. seemingly shot on the fly by Lester, received a Academy Award nomination for that year.

Saturday, January 20, 7:00 p.m.
Egyptian Theatre

Sunday, January 21, 10:00 a.m
Prospector Square Theatre


— Tony Safford

Screening Details

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