A Hard Day s Night

  • Directors: Richard Lester
  • Producers: Walter Shenson
  • Writers: Alun Owen
  • Genres: Comedy, Music
  • Actors: The Beatles

The screenplay was written by Alun Owen, who was chosen because the Beatles were familiar with his play No Trams to Lime Street, and he had shown an aptitude for Liverpudlian dialogue. McCartney commented, “Alun hung around with us and was careful to try and put words in our mouths that he might’ve heard us speak, so I thought he did a very good script.”[3] Owen spent several days with the group, who told him their lives were like “a room and a car and a room and a car and a room and car”; the character of Paul’s grandfather refers to this in the dialogue.[4] Owen wrote the script from the viewpoint that the Beatles had become prisoners of their own fame, their schedule of performances and studio work having become punishing. In fact their biggest problem is McCartney’s elderly, but “clean” grandfather, played by Wilfrid Brambell.[5]

Halliwell encapsulates the plot as “Harassed by their manager and Paul’s grandpa, the Beatles embark from Liverpool by train for a London TV show.”[2] Having escaped a horde of fans, once aboard the train and trying to relax, various interruptions begin to test their patience, prompting George to go to the goods van for some peace and quiet.

The Beatles comment cheekily on their own fame: for instance, at one point a fan recognizes John Lennon; he demurs, saying his face isn’t quite right, with the fan eventually agreeing.[4] When Starr is asked if he’s a Mod or a Rocker, he replies “I’m a mocker”.[7] The frequent reference to McCartney’s’s grandfather as a “clean old man” contrasts with the Steptoe and Son stock description of Wilfrid Brambell’s character, Albert Steptoe, as a “dirty old man”.[8]

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