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“A Hard Day’s Night"- {Blu-ray} (Canadian Import)
Reviewer:
Taylor Carlson
Studio: Alliance
Genre:
Music
Release Date:
9/9/09
Special Features:

"Things They Said Today ..." (36:18) •

"Their Production Will Be Second To None" -- Interviews With The Filmmakers (Director Richard Lester, Musical Director Sir George Martin, Associate Producer Denis O'Dell, Studio Executive David Picker) •

"With The Beatles" -- Cast (John Junkin, Lionel Blair, Kenneth Haigh, David Janson, Anna Quayle, Jeremy Lloyd, Terry Hooper) •

"Working Like A Dog" -- The Production Crew (Gilbert Taylor BSC, Paul Wilson, Betty Glasow, Barrie Melrose) •

"Busy Working Overtime" -- Post Production Crew (Pam Tomling & Roy Benson, Gordon Daniels & Jim Roddan) •

"Listen To The Music Playing In Your Head" -- Sir George Martin On The HDN Songs •

"Such A Clean Old Man!" -- Memories of Wilfrid Brambell •

"I've Lost My Little Girl" -- Isla Blair Interview •

"Taking Testimonial Pictures" -- Robert Freeman Interview • "Dressed To The Hilt" -- Gordon Millings Interview •

"Dealing With 'The Men From The Press'" -- Tony Barrow Interview • "They And I Have Memories" -- Klaus Voorman Interview •

"Hitting The Big Time In The USA" -- Sid Bernstein Interview

Review:

A Hard Day’s Night is directed by Richard Lester (Superman III.) The film stars John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr as themselves. It was originally released theatrically in 1964. ***

This Blu-Ray Disc was released by Canadian distributor Alliance. It is a region-free disc and will work perfectly fine in an American device. ***

A Hard Day’s Night was the first feature-length film by The Beatles. This particular movie follows the band on a tour, as they travel around England playing at numerous venues and find themselves both embracing and running away from thousands of screaming young fans. Having to deal with Paul’s troublesome grandfather and an uptight road crew, the band steals any opportunity they can to go off and have a good time in the midst of the tour. ***

The first film from The Beatles is one of their finest visual efforts. While the movie does look and feel a bit dated at times, it’s still very entertaining, with some of the band’s greatest music and plenty of hilarious interludes. ***

Perhaps the greatest thing about A Hard Day’s Night is that, while obviously intended as something of a satire of the band’s performing and working life, it shows us that there is more to these individuals than just their music. Each member of the band gets a chance to show off their comedic side, and none of the band members get shortchanged in this department. It’s good to see that the movie doesn’t just focus on John and Paul – Ringo even gets an interesting, comically-entertaining side story that ends with him and Paul’s grandfather in a police station! The scenes of this film must be seen to be appreciated. Not to mention most of the comedy in the film, while hilarious, is G-rated fare, so it’s a film appropriate for all audiences. ***

And then, there is what everyone came to see the movie for in the first place – the music itself. Is there anything that can be said about Beatles music that hasn’t already been said? The songs newly composed for the film were released on the band’s third studio album, also entitled A Hard Day’s Night – and there are plenty of classics in the mix, including Can’t Buy Me Love, Tell Me Why and the title track. ***

All in all, A Hard Day’s Night is a superb film, combining some of the Beatles’ finest musical tracks with a fun, comical storyline directed by the multi-talented Richard Lester (long before he destroyed the Superman film franchise.) To any fan of the band, picking up the film is a no-brainer. ---

Image and Sound:

As far as I can tell this is the same master that was used for the Miramax Special Edition DVD. That’s both a good and bad thing. Good because it’s the best-looking version of the film to date and the Blu-Ray format allows for increased detail throughout the film, but bad because it still has all the pops, speckles, and instances of video noise that were present in that previously-released DVD edition. The other big issue I have is that this is an interlaced (1080i) transfer and not progressive (1080p.) Is this an upgrade over the DVD? Absolutely, but fans expecting a world of difference over the DVD may be in for a disappointment. If you have a Blu-Ray player and don’t already own this film in some shape or form, by all means import this disc. But if you’ve got the standard DVD, just watch it upconverted in your Blu-Ray player. The image quality isn’t quite enough of an improvement to double dip if you already purchased the special edition DVD. ***

Audio is a different story. This is the kind of movie lossless audio was invented for. While I admit the dialogue can be a bit difficult to understand and low in the mix at times (though it may just be all the British accents that are difficult to understand), this movie COMES TO LIFE whenever a musical sequence comes along. When the band starts playing their hits, the mix beautifully demonstrates just how much of a difference lossless audio can make for a music-intensive movie – the quality here puts your CDs to shame. My only complaint is that the non-music audio seems to be substantially “quieter” than the musical sequence – so I found myself turning up the speakers during the “talking” sequences and having to turn them way down again come a musical sequence. Still, the excellent audio in music sequences is reason enough to own this disc. ---

Special Features:

As far as I can tell, the bonus features here are identical to those found on the Miramax special edition DVD that was released in the US a few years back. They consist of numerous pieces of interviews and behind-the-scenes footage. Disappointingly, these featurettes (while great in number) don’t feature a whole lot of footage with the Beatles themselves. Another complaint I have is that the featurettes were all given titles taken from the lines of Beatles songs – and shown that way on the menu, with NO DESCRIPTION of what the featurette is. You’re going to need to refer to the packaging for that, or check each one manually. Still, I’m grateful to have ANY bonus material on here (even if it is rehashed from an older release) as many Alliance releases are bare-bones.

Final Words:

A Hard Day’s Night stands the test of time with its excellent soundtrack and on-stage antics. The Blu-Ray Disc, while an improvement over earlier editions of the movie, still leaves a lot to be desired, although the audio is a massive upgrade. There aren’t any new bonus features, though (as far as I can tell.) To put it simply: If you already own the Miramax Special Edition DVD of the film, no need to upgrade (unless you've got speakers and want to take advantage of a version with lossless audio.) But if you’re a Beatlemaniac with a Blu-Ray player who somehow never managed to get the film, this is the version to buy – the audio alone makes this disc worth owning.

 

 
 
 
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