A Hard Day’s Night was shot in a documentary style, and Jackson takes it a step further by setting up a calendar, and breaking up each chapter into the Beatles’ work days. This includes one Saturday. Lester’s film caught the wrong sides of cameras and falling amplifiers, Jackson’s captures the very sweeping of the soundstage the Beatles will rehearse on. The premise is the same as Let It Be, Help! and their first film: They have an album to make, this time with a live performance at the end, and only a short time to do it. They have to clear out of the space in Twickenham film studio, where Ringo will film The Magic Christian with Peter Sellers, and Denis O’Dell is standing there like a ticking clock.
O’Dell really does capture Spinetti’s entire ambiance. He exerts the same condescension, impatience, and under-estimation of the Beatles. He comes in to check the space one day, hears a couple run-throughs of early numbers, and reminds Let It Be director Michael Lindsay-Hogg about his incoming film, and hears “It’s only gonna last two weeks.” The combination of the scorn Harrison brings into both films has nothing on the way O’Dell sneers, “Well, we don’t know that, do we.”
Lindsay-Hogg is actually playing the part of the TV studio’s sound technician in Lester’s comedy. The one who wants to play Ringo’s drums and is told “I don’t mess about with your headphones, do I?” When it looks like George isn’t coming back, Lindsay-Hogg makes a point of telling people he used to act in college. He is almost veering into Roy Kinnear’s character Algernon in Help!, who lets the other Beatles know he’s “no mean hand at the old sticks” himself, in the event Ringo can’t keep time with a missing finger. The mad scientist from that film is actually phoned in by the mad inventor and longtime Beatles’ hanger-onner, Magic Alex. He can never find the right plug.
Even Mal Evans puts in one of his mythic performances, and it’s not just a cameo, like he did in Help! or his small part in Magical Mystery Tour. Not only does he get in a great comic line – he’s on a new diet, no food, but is integral as a supporting character. Mal interrupts McCartney during the composition of “Long and Winding Road,” and we see the beginnings of real annoyance on McCartney’s face. But then, he looks up and sees it’s good old Mal, who was so big in the Beatles development it took two actors to play him in A Hard Day’s Night, Norm and Shake.
Yoko Ono sublimely captures the essence of Pattie Boyd Harrison’s character in A Hard Day’s Night. She not only gets the most private performance of anyone outside of the band members’ themselves, but the looks she gives John are absolutely adoring. Boyd didn’t know Harrison when they met on the set, and went on to be married. Lennon gets news of Yoko’s divorce, freeing them to do the same on some rock off Gibraltar. There’s a scene in Night when Pattie tries to touch the hair of a Beatle. Get Back captures Yoko trying to bring John’s attention to a stick of gum she broke in half for him.
Spontaneous Humor Is as Good As Scripted Dialog
Cut right, there are gags in Get Back which rival Harrison’s dislike of “dead grotty” mod style, and the woman who looks more like Lennon than John does. When Glyn Johns tells him to take some bass off his guitar settings, John looks positively stricken.