A Hard Day’s Night: Ten Things To Know About The Movie

A Hard Day's Night: Ten Things To Know About The MovieHere 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.

5. One of the actors was best known for starring in a British TV series.

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:

  • Anonymous.

    I was very young at the time. Just a child in fact. But believe it or not I saw both Beatles films, “A Hard Days’ Night” and “Help,” in the theater when they were originally released. I remember that I couldn’t hear most of what was going on because the girls in the audience were constantly screaming! This happened during both films!

  • BRIAN

    Keep an eye out for Phil Collins(Bit)

  • Juanita Curtis

    A Hard Days Night had a very slapstick sense of humour which is why it appealed to such a large audience. I grew up with the Beatles and came from the same area so I have always felt a strong connection with their music.

  • Tito Pannaggi

    Yes, why wasn’t Phil Collins’ bit part mentioed. Thank you Brian for bringing it up!

  • TinyTim

    I was 9 or 10 and a complete Beatlemaniac when I first saw the movie in our neighborhood theater and loved it completely and went back to see it a couple more times. I watched it about ten years ago and was surprised to see how ridiculous most of it was (and the Wilfrid Brambell subplot was downright annoying). The fab four were still incredibly charming and funny, and their music spectacular, but the scripted bits were awful. Released about a year later, ‘Help’ has the dubious distinction of introducing every convention to be used in “music videos” for the next thirty years. I love the Beatles, but I hate that video idiom they unwittingly pioneered.

  • Rob in L.A.

    The way I understand the story of how the film got its title: The Beatles had been filming in a studio for the entire day until after nightfall. When exiting the studio, Ringo said to the others, “That was a hard day…” But upon seeing how dark it was outside, he suddenly said, “…Night!” Everyone had a laugh at this.

    According to the making-of documentary “You Can’t Do That,” the next day, John told the producer Walter Shenson about Ringo saying “a hard day’s night.” Shenson, who had been trying to come up with a title for the film, pounced on the phrase. Other sources say that director Richard Lester seized on Ringo’s phrase for the movie’s title.

  • Hilde

    I love A Hard Day’s Night. Watching it or listening to their music is bittersweet. Though I cared for other groups, such as The Dave Clark Five, no other music is able to move me quite like anything by The Beatles.

  • r-gordon-7

    “10. The name of the rock group that performs in the film is never mentioned in the movie.”

    Well, not exactly. At the end, the “BEA” logo (for “British European Airways”) on the helicoper becomes “BEA TLES”, when the helicopter door is closed… ;-)

  • jim

    To bad Pete Best was not a Beatle anymore he would have been better than Ringo.

    • asdfghjk

      BITE YOUR TONGUE.

  • Bill C.

    “Composer” Eric Clapton? Yeah, Clapton has written a fair share of songs, but he is far and away best known as a guitarist and singer.

    You could have said the film starred composer Ringo Starr.

    BTW @Jim:

    John himself said (paraphrasing): “Pete Best was a great drummer, but Ringo was a great Beatle.” Difficult to imagine the band with any of its four members being different. They all added something to the total.

  • Jon DeCles

    I’m surprised that nobody has mentioned the origins of the humor in the film. Richard Lester had previously made “The Running, Jumping, and Standing Still Film” as a spinoff from “The Goon Show.” The scene where the Beatles run, jump, and stand still outside is pretty much a recreation of that earlier short. Out of The Goon Show, of course, came Monty Python, which recreated the Elephants Eggs sketch into the Spam sketch. While one could say there is nothing new under the sun (I think that might have been a Roman orator) one could also say that everybody ultimately knows everybody else, or at least is way more closely connected than by six degrees of separation. Or, as Artaud once said: “The world is made up of 300 people and their friends.”

  • Ellie

    I read somewhere that Ringo had quite a hangover and a splitting headache during the filming of his “stand-alone” scenes (after he rebels against the rest of the Beatles and goes wandering in and out of shops and walks along a canal).

  • Roger Phillips

    I saw “A Hard Day’s Night” in the Beatles year of 1964 when I was eleven years old. I had not seen it the second time until about two years ago when I bought it. Even today it is great fun and really a music video. Of course the music is timeless. Today’s artists only wish to be that good.

  • Bill Schmeelk

    I have always been puzzled that although the songs sung by the Beatles in the film have been released, the rest of the music, present on the vinyl soundtrack album, has not. The instrumentals in the movie have never been released on CD. A complete soundtrack album has never been released on CD. Anybody know why?

  • Somerphil

    Saw “A Hard Days Night” shortly after it came out, and it was the greatest (tho I thot Ringo’s “grandfather” was annoying). Rented the VHS tape back in the early 1990’s, and was embarrassed by the slap stick antics; didn’t seem cool anymore. Dated,dare I say? But their songs of course never tarnish. Just viewed your trailer clip, and I thought the scene when Ringo’s “grandfather” was “causing trouble” was really very funny. So time changes our perceptions. But the Beatles’s music is immutable. Now, where’s my wig? Gotta hear them again…

  • BRIAN

    The song You Cant Do That was cut from the final print.(It was on the Bside of the Capitol single Cant Buy Me Love)
    Also in the Cant Buy Me Love scene,John was off so we only see Paul,Ringo,and George in a few scenes during the song.

  • Manuel Hernandez

    When the Beatles becme popluar it seemed to catch on to every generation that was within listening distance. My father woke up every morning to the tune of of I Want To Hold Your Hand and in time you could hear him humming it @ 6am. How how many years have gone by and they are still very popular. Never in my dreams would I ever think when I was listening the Beatles that my children and least of all my grandchidren would love the Beatles. For the last two Christms my grandchildren have asked me for a Beatle CD. My grandchildren are only ages 3 and 7. Who would hav thought. They ask how is it that I know the words to the songs as I listen to them with my grandchildren.

  • Pat

    The “Press Party” scene was done impromptu when rain prevented the planned out door scene. Among the guests is a 17 year old Charlotte Rampling.