A Hard Day's Night

Critics Consensus

A Hard Day's Night, despite its age, is still a delight to watch and has proven itself to be a rock-and-roll movie classic.

98%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 106

89%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 50,348
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Movie Info

The year is 1964 and four young lads from Liverpool are about to change the world - if only the madcap world will let them out of their hotel room. Richard Lester's boldly contemporary rock n' roll comedy unleashes the fledgling Beatles into a maelstrom of screaming fans, paranoid producers, rabid press and troublesome family members, and reveals the secret of their survival and success: an insatiable lust for mischief and a life-affirming addiction to joy.

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Cast

Wilfrid Brambell
as Grandfather
Victor Spinetti
as Television Director
Vincent Spinetti
as TV Director
Deryck Guyler
as Police Inspector
Richard Vernon
as Man on Train
Eddie Malin
as Hotel waiter
Robin Ray
as TV Floor Manager
Lionel Blair
as TV Choreographer
Alison Seebohm
as Secretary
Marianne Stone
as Society reporter
Claire Kelly
as Barmaid
David Jaxon
as Young Boy
Clare Kelly
as Barmaid
Michael Trubshawe
as Casino manager
Roger Avon
as (uncredited)
John Bluthal
as car thief
Pattie Boyd
as Jean, schoolgirl on train
Margaret Nolan
as Grandfather's Girl at Casino
Terry Hooper
as casino croupier
Derek Nimmo
as Leslie Jackson
Bridget Armstrong
as Lead Makeup Woman
Rosemarie Frankland
as Brunette Showgirl
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News & Interviews for A Hard Day's Night

Critic Reviews for A Hard Day's Night

All Critics (106) | Top Critics (35)

  • [Hard Day's Night] adds up to a breathless, sometimes funny film maybe even worth a squeal or two.

    Jan 4, 2018 | Full Review…

    Mike McGrady

    Newsday
    Top Critic
  • The movie never feels like a nostalgia trip. It moves, breathes and sings with life.

    Jul 17, 2014 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

    Rafer Guzman

    Newsday
    Top Critic
  • It's pure joy as I Should Have Known Better, And I Love Her and Tell Me Why pour out over footage of thousands of screaming, weeping schoolgirls with bouffant hair and miniskirts pursuing John, Paul, George and Ringo.

    Jul 7, 2014 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

    Kate Muir

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • The results remain pop perfection.

    Jul 7, 2014
  • The whole movie is an ecstatic mix of serendipity and invention. The Beatles were ready for their cinematic breakthrough.

    Jul 7, 2014 | Rating: A+ | Full Review…
  • A Hard Day's Night looks chaotic and slapdash enough (and just occasionally, for me, depressing enough) to count as an experimentalist or underground movie.

    Jul 3, 2014 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for A Hard Day's Night

  • Jul 30, 2014
    Call it a pseudo documentary. Call it a musical comedy. Call it the umpteenth home video cash-in of this particular title. Regardless, A Hard Day's Night ends up to be a series of fortunate events for both fans of the band and fans of anarchic comedy in the style of the Marx Brothers. Ironically, in this reviewer's critique of their finest film, Duck Soup, a similar comparison gets made: Just as persnickety musicologists debate the better Beatles album (the structured themed brilliance of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" vs. the organized chaotic excellence of "The White Album"), Marx Brothers enthusiasts (a different kind of Marxist than the followers of Karl just as the Beatles invoke a different kind of Lennonist than Vladimir) have the same back-and-forth over pretty much the same discussion points. Is the anarchic, Hellzapoppin', fun abandon of Duck Soup REALLY better than the polished studio musical comedy A Night at the Opera? Here, that point is moot but filmgoers see the unusual Marxist/Lennonist worlds brilliantly unite. Audiences get the best of all worlds, a merging of the greatest ever comedy team's side-splitting anarchy with the young, vital, and expert musicianship of the greatest ever rock band. Seeing as the world was sitting on a veritable faultline (the US was still smarting from JFK's assassination and escalating their involvement in Vietnam while the UK was dismantling the final pieces of the British Empire and undergoing a cultural shift that would later be called 'the Swinging '60s'), this chaotic romp all somehow made sense. Thankfully, it still does. In the Beatles 1964 film debut, director Richard Lester captures a, ahem, 'typical' day in the life of the world's greatest rock band at the height of Beatlemania. What's remarkable is that Lester, who takes to some remarkable handheld framing with his fly-on-the-wall shooting style, turns out a slapstick sing-a-long that owes as much to Jean-Luc Godard as Groucho's favorite director, Leo McCarey. Most importantly, in an era when it's nearly impossible to latch onto one face or personality in the rock bands that have sprung to popularity over the last 2-3 years (OneRepublic is dandy but just try visualizing one of the band members), this film evinces 4 distinct players who each shine with enough charm and wit to fuel the slapdash goings-on in the madcap kinda-sorta parody of their own early success. Loaded with too many extras to list here, the latest release, a "director approved" version, is the perfect way to celebrate 50 years of an unlikely film classic. Bottom line: Worth Watching 8 Days a Week
    Jeff B Super Reviewer
  • Jun 28, 2013
    Interesting how the Beatles kept complaining about how they've been working so hard on music, and then they go off and make a blasted movie, though, in all fairness the producers might not have given them too much of a choice. Oh no, I'm sure that this film was not a cash-grab, because, after all, it's a relatively cheap, thinly plotted comedy of shenanigans that is directed by Richard Lester - who, as "Superman II" taught us, is the "the" go-to guy for a last-minute directing position - and stars the biggest pop band in the world, right at the height of their popularity and just in time for their latest album, which features the same name as this film. Shoot, maybe this film wasn't a cash grab, because it ended up getting nominated for Best Original Screenplay, though, in all fairness, in the mid-1960s, the board of governors for the Academy Awards were probably still young and hip enough to also get caught up in Beatlemania. Actually, I guess the board of governors for the Academy Awards have always had to be dirt-old, though I doubt that changes much, because this film is so British that of course the Oscar people would stick by it, seeing as how they themselves had to be incredibly British, what with their founding America and whatnot. They probably would have taken home the prize if this film came out in '68 or something, because The Beatles' then-hot single, "Revolution", must have brought them fond memories of the days of the American Revolution, thus leaving them to embrace the Beatles' on their completely non-cash grab movement to reach out to every demographic by the later 1960s. ...So yeah, the joke is that the Academy Awards have always been run by old people, yet I must say that I agree with their sentiment that this film is enjoyable, even though I am young and... extremely conservative, with a disdain towards children, and too much laziness to do anything about the world I am kind of sick of. Oh my goodness, I am old, but then again, this film does get so dated in some spots that you feel old watching it, which isn't to say that this still-decent effort's problems end there. Look, by 1964, alone, everyone knew who the Beatles were, and you should know that this film is so fluffy and unfocused that you shouldn't be asking for too much in the way of expository depth, this there is practically no immediate development to either the characters or this non-story, whose gradual exposition gets to be too slam-banged for you to get all that firm of a grip on things, thus making for a film that suffers from more hurrying than there should be, or at least pacing unevenness, because when this film isn't dashing along through what plot there is, it's dragging its feet. If nothing else can be said about certain other, later films that featured the Beatles, they kept consistent with a certain liveliness to atmosphere, but with this film, while there is quite a bit of entertainment value, atmosphere has a decency to dry up to a bland, maybe even dull point, and that really leaves you to focus on the limping within story structuring, as the film, even with its being driven by not much more than mere shenanigans, goes bloated with excess filler and repetition that retards momentum, often to a glacial point. When the film isn't undercooking things too much for its own good, it's bloating itself with too much excess fat for its own good, thus the film is left to meander along, confused by uneven pacing, as well as yet another aspect that goes plagued by inconsistency: focus. Granted, even on paper, there's hardly any real focus to this series of set pieces and exploits, yet what narrative there is has a tendency to break a certain flow in the telling of a segment within this episodic opus with an awkward shift of full attention towards some kind of forced in set piece or subplot, which isn't to say that the shifts between whole segments are ever truly organic, because with all of this episodicity, it gets to be difficult to see any kind of evenness or, for that matter, focus within a plot that was never to be meatier than paper-thin. There's never all that much conflict to this fluffy, aimless comedy whose primary concern is delivering a series of colorful exploits that tie together through some obligatory, but obscure consistent aspect, and while the final product does its job well enough to be enjoyed, there's no making this formula completely work, because all you're going to end up with is an unfocused and rather pointless piece of filler whose overall quality is put at a very real risk. Well, sure enough, while the film is able to save itself as genuinely enjoyable, it's hardly memorable, being an unfocused wanderer with no development, some slow spells and a consistency in inconsistency that makes the final product to inconsequential to stand a chance of escaping underwhelmingness. Of course, the film is so rocky at times that it very well could have collapsed further, into downright mediocrity, yet such a collapse doesn't quite come, because no matter how messy and unfocused this fluff piece is, it offers plenty to enjoy, and does so rather handsomely. A black-and-white comedy with little in the way of budgetary meatiness, and even less in the way of an artistic vision, this film is far from a stunner, with cinematography whose impressiveness is easy to miss, but can indeed be found, as well as enjoyed once found, as Gilbert Taylor's photographic efforts play with director Richard Lester's taste in filming in a way that delivers on stylish framing and lively camerawork that draw you into the environment and give you quite the ride when things really start to pick up frenetic pace, thus making for a visual style that is about as enjoyable as the musical stylings. With all of my jokes about how this film is not much more than a cash grab that rides on the popularity of the Beatles, this film is an adequately inspired, but thinly-plotted vehicle for the Beatles and their music, and quite frankly, I reckon I'm alright with that, for although this film came at a time where the Beatles were still too deep into the pop culture to flesh out their full abilities and turn in music that is not simply decent, but strong, you can still expect the musical numbers to be quite entertaining, if a bit particularly detrimental to the flow of what narrative there is. With hook-heavy melodies and sunny vocals behind lyrics that are sometimes cornball in something of a delightfully lighthearted way, the Beatles produce a soundtrack that is, on a general standard, nothing too special (Hey, they may have been groundbreakingly influential, but at the end of the day, you must salute the general standard), but adds to the final product's liveliness, something that it needs to make sure is kept alive, because, again, this film is a very unfocused and thinly drawn series of shenanigans that, in order to be enjoyed, must make sure its exploits are worth sitting through. Alun Owen's Oscar-nominated script is nothing short of a mess, and I sure wouldn't nominate it for anything, what with all of its unevenness and thinness, though I'd be lying if I said that I wouldn't still pay some respects to Owen's efforts, for although they are flawed in a lot of ways, most of the exploits he comes up with are kind of fun, at least in concept (Again, the film has a tendency to drag its feet), and such color goes anchored by humor that, while a bit dated and inconsistent in its down-to-earth value, hits more often than not with a certain wit that charms, if not amuses thoroughly. The film is a dry comedy, so it's not exactly wildly entertaining, and after a while, all the wit loses a bit of kick in the midst of dynamicity limitations, yet the final product's sense of humor rarely, if ever gets to the point where it is completely devoid of color, having enough relative liveliness to its "stories", and enough charm, if not effectiveness to its humor, to keep engagement value from slipping to far. What the film does right on paper has just enough going for it to keep you going, yet what ultimately secures the film from a collapse into mediocrity is its color being brought to life the most by our stars, the Beatles, who could have gone the way of certain other music star-turned movie stars and fallen flat, but deliver more than expected, with just about every member of the legendary band keeping consistent with a certain charisma, reinforced when bonded with the others through great chemistry that gives you a good feel for the band's real-life relationship, thus making the performances satisfying for both those looking for insight into the lives of music legends, as well as those looking for truly charming leads to carry this messy film. The Beatles certainly don't stand a chance of drawing your attention too far away from the problems, of which there are oh so many, but in the end, they stand among plenty of other undeniable strengths as saving graces that carry the final product far enough to keep you adequately entertained, if longing for a bit more security to the decency. When the titular hard day's night is finally done, the film is left plagued by tremendously thin expository depth, slow spells, - which go powered by atmospheric dryness and repetitious dragging - and unevenness within what focus there is to this paper-thin and aimlessly episodic "storyline", so much so that the film almost collapses into mediocrity, yet goes ultimately saved by the decent cinematography and soundtrack, generally clever writing, and thoroughly charismatic lead performances by the Beatles - who also deliver on sharp chemistry - that make "A Hard Day's Night" a generally enjoyable, fluffily over-the-top dramatization of the shenanigans experienced by the biggest band of all time during their most commercially golden years, regardless of its many shortcomings. 2.5/5 - Fair
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Oct 23, 2011
    As a Beatles fan this was perfect for me. It shows the boys at the beginning of their fame with some of their (in my opinion) best music. Loved it.
    Sophie B Super Reviewer
  • Jul 30, 2011
    A versatile movie not to be taken seriously. The revolutionary group was out there causing a brutal female fanatism a la Buster Keaton (Seven Chances, anybody? That guy was a genius). This is the equivalent to any piece of garbage released nowadays for the sole purpose of increasing the popularity of pop/Disney teenage mutant monsters. However, this is different because of what The Beatles represented in the music industry, the sharp screenplay and its witty comedy. Those four guys can actually pull off some gags really good. And yet, I'm put in the necessity of separating objectively my opinion towards The Beatles and the art of filmmaking, and this is far from a masterpiece, but I want to highlight my favorite scene: Ringo with the "deserter" boy. 86/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer

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