Had Sang a Dry Hit


This is what the Shadowplayhouse looks like today. obviously, your own home should look identical — to achieve the desired effect, follow the link below and order AT LEAST FOUR copies of the Criterion Collection’s dual-format edition of A HARD DAY’S NIGHT.

It’s been an epic journey to get to this point, beginning with the end of production on NATAN and me asking myself the question “Now that I am a documentarist, what would I like to do next?” and answering the question with “Something to do with Richard Lester.” And then contacting the Great Man via a series of intermediaries. And finding he wasn’t at all sure he wanted to talk to anyone about his work, and that he doubted there would be anyone interested in hearing it.

“I have a share of the book I did with Soderbergh. And at the same time a truck is pulling up outside Paul McCartney’s house with his royalties, I get my share from the book. And it has never been more than five pounds.”

And emailing Criterion to ask if they might be interested in something on Lester, and meeting producer Kim Hendrickson in Telluride where she said that Yes, as a matter of fact, something was in the offing. My mind doesn’t think in terms of anniversaries so I hadn’t noticed there was a fifty-year one coming up.

Lester, when I told him I now had a producer and a budget and an outlet: “Congratulations, you’ve picked someone’s pocket.”

Once again, here’s the sequel to the piece I made for the disc.

And here’s where you go to buy the thing itself: A Hard Day’s Night (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray + DVD)

I admit it: Soderbergh’s Lester interview is better than mine: Getting Away With It: Or – Further Adventures of the Luckiest Bastard You Ever Saw

16 Responses to “Had Sang a Dry Hit”

  1. thefanwithnoname Says:

    The Soderbergh interview is indeed very good but there’s a lot more about Lester’s life and film I would love to hear about and maybe getting something more out from him and about him would help to combat the somewhat awful neglect his career and impact seems to receive currently!?!!

    ***And I’ve purchased two copies of A HARD DAY’S NIGHT and plan to probably get a couple more!!!


  2. David Boxwell Says:

    My very own copy arrived three days ago, so it’s next after I complete the Etaix set.


  3. Thanks!

    It’s nice that this edition of the film is kind of more about Lester and the film as a film than it is about the Beatles. Or at any rate, there’s a balance between the two.

    Next, I must talk about the Leni Riefenstahl influence…

  4. …also you should address you thoughts on if there’s any Marx Brothers influence in your estimation (or not) on the film (so many contemporary reviews are quick to name drop them). I’ve/we’ve read about Groucho’s reaction to the film as told by Lester but I don’t recall if Lester himself acknowledges any Marxian influences…

  5. …Only in the sense that the script was composed of one-liners because that’s all they thought the Beatles could handle. There was more of an attempt on Help! to differentiate the boys, but I don’t think that really caught fire, partly because the story lumps them all in together. The Marxes were always double-crossing each other and squabbling so you had characterisation through the action of the story…

  6. David Boxwell Says:

    You have decorated the Shadowplayhouse just like Etaix did his room with Stella advertising (LE SOUIRANT)!

  7. I wish! I’d need another fifty copies for that.

    Criterion sent a spare one so I was able to give a copy to the guy who first showed me his VHS of A Hard Day’s Night, nearly thirty years ago. The first tape he ever bought.

  8. >the script was composed of one-liners because that’s all they thought the Beatles could handle

    The Maysles’ doc is filled with the same kind of careening (and occasionally tiresome) one-liners; if you just heard it you’d think it was from outtakes of “AHDN”. After the movie appeared that might’ve the go-to face they put on for public consumption because it had already been road-tested and proven safe, easy and popular.

  9. I’ve wondered whether Lester took any hints from Buster Keaton’s “Seven Chances”. When I first saw that movie I remember thinking, “Oh, so THAT’s where that gag came from!” when Keaton inadvertently leads a woman chasing him into a ditch that’s basically invisible on screen. I thought that perhaps the inspiration for the bit where Ringo accidentally sends a woman through an open manhole. But on checking the relevant scene in “Seven Chances” I don’t see enough of a resemblance now to get excited about.

  10. judydean Says:

    Just heard Matthew Sweet announce that he’ll be talking to Richard Lester on next week’s Film Programme. (Radio 4, Thursdays, 4pm).

  11. Thanks, Judy! Lester seems to be coming out of his shell! He looked like he was having a great time in Bologna.

    The hole-in-the-ground gag in A Hard Day’s Night is a fairly straight parody of Francis Bacon’s coat-on-puddle trick, expertly delivered. It gets a HUGE laugh, maybe because it’s slightly shocking. Keaton is at the back of all Lester’s slapstick, but maybe not in a direct way here.

    And the Beatles had been doing their quips on TV well before AHDN — the movie really is trying to be accurate to the way they were. That gives us the press conference scene. Owen’s innovation was to build up longer conversations in which everyone else can speechify but the Beatles only quip.

  12. David Boxwell Says:

    Your Lester film is wonderful. And how much better his 70s movies must be now that they LOOK so much better than when they were projected in theaters in the 70s (as I vividly recall). I can’t wait to give him another look, starting with FLASHMAN.

  13. Thanks so much!

    If you can get The Complete Musketeers two-disc set, it’d wonderful. David Watkin at his finest. Of course, Geoffrey Unsworth is nothing to sneeze at either.

  14. David Boxwell Says:

    First viewing since I was a kid at the drive-in 50 years ago. I was impressed and surprised by a lot of things, but especially how much “gay visibility” is going on. . .

  15. The whole of television is gay in AHDN! Which was certainly somewhat true.

    Lester told me that Spinetti’s character was partly a mocking self-portrait but he’s also said it was based on a TV director he and Alun Owen knew. I haven’t managed to work out who this was. Waris Hussein wasn’t Welsh…

  16. Hmm, maybe Paul Almond, he was Canadian but he did work with Owen…

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