Here are 10 trivia facts about A Hard Day’s Night from 1964, which originally appeared as our Mystery Movie Quiz on our Facebook page. There are hundreds of pieces of behind-the-scenes information about this movie. Please feel free to comment and add more trivia we might have missed.
1. This movie was filmed in black and white.
Being filmed in black and white is in itself not a big deal, but by 1964 most major movies were in color. Maybe United Artists didn’t realize what they had in The Beatles. The foursome’s subsequent film, 1965’s Help!, also released by UA, had a much bigger budget of $1.5 million dollars compared to $500,000 for A Hard Day’s Night, their only movie in black and white.
On the other hand, everyone knows that United Artists knew exactly what they were doing before filming started when it was discovered that The Beatles’ Capitol Records contract had no provision for movie soundtracks, which resulted in UA being able to put out the soundtrack LP under their label, while all of the songs were simultaneously released by Capitol.
2. The film was nominated for two Oscars.
Although The Beatles’ first movie did not generate a great deal of Oscar buzz in 1964, it did however, manage to bag nominations for two Academy Awards, one for Best Score (George Martin) and the other for Best Screenplay (Alun Owen). Although it was nominated for various music industry awards, the movie did eventually receive another accolade in 2002 — it was awarded a Las Vegas Film Critics Society Special Achievement Award for the restoration and preservation undertaken by Miramax Films.
3. This was the first movie for these stars who would go on to make more together.
Although millions of LP record albums were sold, along with countless 45 RPM singles making them highly visible the world over, A Hard Day’s Night helped the Fab Four become a household name. In addition to A Hard Day’s Night and Help!, their other movies which can be considered as “Beatles films” are 1967’s Magical Mystery Tour, a made-for-British TV musical fantasy in which they play themselves; the animated feature Yellow Submarine (1968), where they appear at the end in a live-action sequence; and the 1970 documentary Let It Be.
4. One of the stars met their future spouse on the set.
George Harrison met his first wife, Pattie Boyd during filming. Boyd actually appears three times in the movie’s early scenes as one of the schoolgirls on the train, speaking only one word of dialogue in the film. George tried dating her but Pattie, already seeing someone else at the time, turned him down. Eventually they got together and were married for 11 years before divorcing. They each remarried… he to Olivia Arias and she to composer Eric Clapton.
Supposedly, it’s Pattie Boyd who gets the credit for The Beatles becoming interested in the teachings of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. She had already become involved in the Maharishi’s Spiritual Regeneration Movement and after sharing some of the ideas with Harrison, he started talking it up with his other band members.
Steptoe and Son, the popular British TV series that ran from 1962 to 1974, can lend its popularity to the irascible Wilfrid Brambell as the lead character, Steptoe. Picture this: Brambell (who plays Paul’s “very clean” grandfather in A Hard Day’s Night), as a dirty old man selling rags and junk, has some disgusting habits, while always embarrassing his son, who is trying to rise above it all. Does it sound familiar? Redd Foxx and Demond Wilson introduced those same characters to American audiences as Sanford and Son (1972-1977). Of note, Wilfrid Brambell gained a reputation for playing elderly men throughout his career but at the height of his popularity, he was under 50 years old.
6. The film’s title came from a comment made by one of the stars off the set.
Before the name of the film was finalized, it was thought the title would have something to do with the film’s stars, blatantly capitalizing on their recent rise to stardom. But one day Ringo Starr, finishing off a long work day and being totally exhausted, blurted out the phrase, “a hard day’s night.” It is questionable if Starr was referring to a hard day on the job or a hard night of heavy drinking, but either way, it caught on and was sanctioned by the studio to appear on movie marquees around the globe.
7. The director worked with the lead actors in a subsequent film.
The Beatles joined director Richard Lester in their second movie, Help! in 1965 and went on to make several movies and documentaries together and separately. Meanwhile, Lester continued his success with A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966) with Phil Silvers, Zero Mostel and a young Michael Crawford in his pre-Phantom of the Opera days; the 1973 version of The Three Musketeers with Michael York, Oliver Reed, Richard Chamberlain and Raquel Welch (and its sequel); Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn in Robin and Marian (1976); and two of the four Christopher Reeve Superman films.
8. The movie inspired a hit TV show.
Young writers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider had the idea of making a movie about a fictional rock band as early as 1960, but it wasn’t until the success of A Hard Day’s Night that they were able to garner interest in their project. Screen Gems came on board and wasted no time in bringing the idea to American TV audiences when they unleashed their monstrous hit, The Monkees, in 1966. (The original pilot was actually called “The Monkeys” and was finalized by Paul Mazursky and Larry Tucker).
More than 400 boys auditioned for the parts being offered, before Rafelson and Schneider narrowed it down to 14 and ultimately chose Mickey Dolenz, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork as the final four. In a 2007 interview, Dolenz said that, even though A Hard Day’s Night was the inspiration behind the series, it was definitely not intended to be a carbon copy. For one thing, The Beatles’ first movie showed the group as already being successful, with thousands of screaming fans, and The Monkees were always struggling to get noticed.
9. A rambunctious family member had something to do with the plot.
In the movie, Paul’s grandfather, played by actor Wilfrid Brambell, is constantly causing trouble for anyone and everyone, and the best that can be said of him is repeated many times — that he is “very clean.” At one point he causes trouble in a casino, then is responsible for Ringo’s AWOL scenes and in general, makes a nuisance of himself throughout the film.
10. The name of the rock group that performs in the film is never mentioned in the movie.
Apparently, Richard Lester and his associates had something in mind when The Beatles are never mentioned by name in the movie, even though it is a crowd of genuine Beatles fans running after them at the film’s beginning. Quite odd, considering the original working title for the film was “The Beatles” followed by a second choice of “Beatlemania.”
And now, grab your Beatle wig and return to 1964 with the theatrical trailer for A Hard Day’s Night: