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The Beatles’ film debut, A HARD DAY’S NIGHT ($25) remains fresh and funny, despite having been made nearly thirty-five years ago. The plot is a whimsical "day in the life" of the astoundingly popular rock band at the height of Beatlemania. A simple excursion from Liverpool to a London television studio for an appearance is the slight framework on which the film hangs its songs and its numerous comedic bits. Wherever they go in A HARD DAY’S NIGHT, shrieking female fans mob The Fab Four. This situation mirrored reality, however the film plays it entirely for laughs.

Actually, what makes A HARD DAY’S NIGHT such a winning film, is the fact that John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr were so natural in front of the camera. Their good-natured clowning remains truly engaging and downright funny. Noted British comic actor, Wilfrid Brambell plays Paul’s irrepressible grandfather, who further complicates the band’s excursion to London. Victor Spinetti is a scream as the overwrought television director who has to deal with the chaos of The Beatles TV appearance. The cast of A HARD DAY’S NIGHT also includes Norman Rossington, John Junkin, Anna Quayle and Deryck Guyler.

MPI Home Video presents A HARD DAY’S NIGHT on DVD in a very good looking black and white transfer. My main problem with MPI’s presentation is the fact that A HARD DAY’S NIGHT is slightly cropped. Most of the time A HARD DAY’S NIGHT looks fine in this format, but there are instances were characters slip off the edges of the screen. Still, this is a respectable first effort for MPI. Perhaps the future will bring a wide screen anamorphic enhanced edition of A HARD DAY’S NIGHT. Cropping aside, the black and white transfer has deep blacks, a sharp image and good contrast.

The Dolby Digital soundtrack is of the two-channel variety. For the most part the dialogue passages sound clear and precisely rendered in monaural. However, the film's songs leap out of the track in stereo. Other soundtrack options include Spanish and French language tracks. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.

The interactive menus offer access to a theatrical trailer, newsreels, an interview with director Richard Lester and the short film Running, Jumping & Standing Still.




DVD reviews are Copyright 1998 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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