BARRY LEVINE: Anniversary of Beatles' first film passed without fanfare

THE OLD ROCKER: The Beatles made its 'A Hard Day's Night' film 50 years ago

“It’s been a hard day’s night

And I’ve been working like a dog

It’s been a hard day’s night

I should be sleeping like a log

“But when I get home to you

I find the things that you do

Will make me feel all right:”

Lyrics to “A Hard Day’s Night by The Beatles

On Feb. 9, The Beatles‘ historic U.S. debut on “The Ed Sullivan Show” was saluted with a spectacular TV special on the appearance’s 50th anniversary. The Recording Academy had a plethora of modern-day artists paying tribute to the monumental event during the show.

The special, “The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to the Beatles,” aired on the exact date of that life-altering night.

The two-hour program included performances by superstar performers covering the same songs the Beatles played on that night in 1964. The show also featured performances by Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney, the two living Beatles.

Yet when the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ first movie, “A Hard Day’s Night,” occurred last month, there was hardly a whimper.

No major television specials.

No re-release of the film in theaters.

The golden anniversary of “A Hard Day’s Night,” a financial and critical success, passed with virtually no acknowledgement. It cost an estimated $500,000 to make and grossed an estimated $13 million.

The Beatles’ filmology

• 1964 “A Hard Day’s Night”

• 1965 “Help”

• 1967 “Magical Mystery Tour”

• 1968 “Yellow Submarine”

• 1970 “Let It Be”

Called by Time magazine one of the best 100 films of the past 80 years, “A Hard Day’s Night” was nominated for two Academy Awards — Best Screenplay (Alun Owen) and Best Score Adaptation (George Martin).

The movie’s unique title came from Ringo Starr’s interview with a disc jockey in 1964.

“We went to do a job, and we had worked all day and we happened to work all night. I came up still thinking it was day I suppose, and I said, ‘It’s been a hard day …’ and I looked around and saw it was dark so I said, ‘… night!’ So we came to “A Hard Day’s Night.”

Richard Lester directed the 1964 back-and-white comedy and starred The Beatles — John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr — during the height of Beatlemania. It was written by Owen. The film portrayed a few days in the lives of the group.

The film is considered to be one of the best and most influential musical films of all time. The movie inspired numerous spy films, the Monkees’ TV show and pop music videos.

The Beatles had a successful film career, beginning with “A Hard Day’s Night,” a comic farce, sometimes compared to the renowned Marx Brothers in style. The film focused on Beatlemania and the band’s hectic touring lifestyle.

The movie followed The Beatles as they make their way from their hometown of Liverpool, England, to a London TV program via a train.

The Beatles managed to escape a horde of fans to get on the train.

Once aboard the train and trying to relax, various interruptions tested their patience.

Following a flirtation with a female passenger, McCartney’s fictional grandfather was confined to the guard’s van and The Beatles joined him there to keep him company. The four then played a card game, entertaining schoolgirls before arriving at their destination.

Upon arrival in London, the Beatles were driven to a hotel, only to feel trapped inside. After a night out during which McCartney’s grandfather caused minor trouble at a casino, the group is taken to the theater where their performance was to be televised.

The preparations were lengthy so Ringo decided to spend some time alone reading a book. McCartney’s grandfather convinced Ringo to go outside to experience life rather than reading books.

Ringo went off by himself. He tried to have a quiet drink in a pub, walked alongside a canal and rode a bicycle along a railway station platform. Meanwhile, the rest of the band frantically — and unsuccessfully — attempted to find Ringo.

Ringo finally returned after being arrested with McCartney’s grandfather, and the concert went ahead as planned.

After the concert, the band was whisked away from their legion of fans via a helicopter.

The music The Beatles performed in the film was seven ‘Lennon & McCartney classics including the title song, “A Hard Day’s Night” to “Can’t Buy Me Love” and “She Loves You.”

Although Lennon and McCartney are credited with writing “A Hard Day’s Night,” it was Lennon who actually penned the song. He did it in one night.

Barry Levine is an entertainment writer for The Albany Herald. He can be reached at dot0001@yahoo.com.