It's 09-09-09 today, an event that won't happen for another hundred years in 2109, and it's also the day that a marketing executive somewhere decided, "Hey! That's a perfect release day for The Beatles!" So they're packing it full from top to bottom with the releases of the meticulously remastered Beatles albums on CD in massive mono and stereo sets, and of course The Beatles: Rock Band video game comes out today, allowing you to pretend you're John, Paul, George, or Ringo. No Pete Best, sadly.
However, not included in this barrage of Beatledom are any of The Beatles' movies. They made five motion pictures over the course of their career, but you hardly hear about them these days. Check out the list below ranked in order from Fab! to Flop, then get your own Revolution going.
A Hard Day's Night
Arguably the best Beatles movie, and the band's favorite, Richard Lester (Superman II, Help!) directed this tongue-in-cheek look at the band by structuring it around what their lives were actually like at the time: running from fans, answering inane questions from reporters, and playing music. There's an amusing subplot tossed in about Paul's grandfather ("He's very ... clean"), but the black and white look captures the early Beatles at their vintage best. Even normally quiet and wooden George Harrison is funny in this thing. A reporter asks him what he calls his moptop haircut and he deadpans, "Arthur."
Let It Be
This documentary was planned to be a look at the band in the studio, culminating in a concert that would end the movie. Sadly, it ended up being a look at The Beatles as they were dissolving as a band. There are some tense moments between them (George actually quits at one point), and the concert never ended up happening, so they staged an impromptu rooftop concert just for the film, and that ended up being the last the The Beatles ever played live together. It's a great movie because of the access it has to The Beatles themselves, and it's a happy and sad look at the band at the same time.
It was animated, it was whimsical, it ... didn't star The Beatles at all? The band reportedly hated the animated series about them that ran from 1965 to 1968, and they wanted to end their movie contract and agreed to have this movie finish that out. It's animated in a trippy, psychedelic style that helped influence artist Peter Max, and had other actors playing the parts of The Beatles. However, the band liked it so much that they agreed to film a live-action scene for the end of the movie.
Richard Lester returned to direct this film, which The Beatles apparently hated. According to Lennon, they felt like extras in their own movie, "partly because we were smoking marijuana for breakfast during that period." Still, Help! remains one of my favorite Beatles movies, simply because it's so damned goofy. The whole plot revolves around Ringo getting a ring in the mail that marks him as a target for a human sacrifice in another country, and then it devolves into an episode of The Benny Hill Show. People say A Hard Day's Night was the inspiration for The Monkees (who appeared a year after this film came out), but Help! feels much closer to that.
Magical Mystery Tour
While there are some good songs on the Magical Mystery Tour album, the movie is a total wash. It was made for BBC television as a one-hour color special despite the fact that not many BBC sets were able to receive color (the service was new), and the hour running time kept it out of theaters. It was completely unscripted, and that's pretty evident if you watch the movie, which I don't recommend you do. This was Paul's pet project, and it was critically pounded into the dirt when it came out, and not watched by many at home. It's a tough day when you can't even interest someone in your free movie on TV. This was considered to be the band's only real failure, sorry Paul.