Ringo Starr Looks Back on 'A Hard Day's Night': 'It Was Mad, But It Was Incredible' (Video)
by Gary Graff, Billboard
"Four guys from Liverpool making a movie — it was so great," says the Beatle of the 50th anniversary of the film.
Fifty years later and even with a solid IMDb entry to his credit, A Hard Day's Night remains a surreal experience for Ringo Starr.
"I mean, we were in a movie, man. We were making a movie!" Starr recalls to Billboard. "Four guys from Liverpool making a movie — it was so great. I loved it, and as you can tell, I loved it because the next movie [Help!] was sort of based around me, based around the ring and Kaili." A Hard Day's Night returns to movie theaters for the holiday weekend, starting July 4 and continuing throughout the summer (a full schedule of screenings can be found here). This follows the June release of a Criterion Collection version of the film on DVD and Blu-ray, featuring a new digital restoration of the film approved by director Richard Lester, audio commentary, several documentaries about the movie and The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film, an Academy Award-nominated short directed by Lester, starring Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan.
Conceived to capitalize on the Beatlemania sweeping the globe at the time, A Hard Day's Night offered a day-in-the-life view of the group at the time, culminating in a concert in London. Its madcap, fast-paced and dry-witted flavor made it a fresh kind of cinematic experience, cited as an influence on subsequent spy films, music videos and, of course, The Monkees TV series. The film premiered on July 6, 1964, in London and on August 11, 1964, worldwide. It was nominated for two Academy Awards — best screenplay for Alun Owen and best adaptation score for Beatles producer George Martin, while the accompanying album hit No. 1 in the U.S., U.K. and Australia and the title track won a Grammy Award for Best Performance by a Vocal Group.
"It was a really exciting thing to do," says Starr. "We were making records and, wow, the records were taking off and then we're playing to bigger and bigger audiences and that's taking off, and now we're doing a movie. It was mad … but it was incredible." The theatrical return of A Hard Day's Night is part of a number of The Beatles' 50th anniversary celebrations this year, including the group's arrival in the U.S., honors at the Grammy Awards and a subsequent Record Academy CBS special saluting Starr, Paul McCartney and their late bandmates John Lennon and George Harrison.
"It's just been one of those incredible years," notes Starr. "I mean, how incredible that it's 50 years since we landed in New York and Paul and I did the Grammys and … It's massive! But it's interesting — when I was in New York, in the hotel, I took a photo outside the Plaza and there's nobody there; when the last time we were there, it was like thousands of people outside. So things have changed." The Beatles in Mono, a 14-LP vinyl collection, will be released Sept. 8, with the albums also available individually. Starr, meanwhile, is currently on the road celebrating the 25th anniversary of his All-Starr Band and will celebrate his 74th birthday on July 7 with a "peace and love moment" in front of the Capitol Records building. Ringo Starr: A Lifetime of Peace and Love, filmed during the Grammy Week event where he was honored by the David Lynch Foundation, debuts at 8 p.m. ET July 13 on AXS TV. McCartney launches the next U.S. leg of his Out There tour on July 5 in Albany, N.Y., after postponing the first seven dates due to health concerns. This story originally appeared on Billboard.com.
The Beatles with George Martin (center), who produced the score for the hit film "A Hard Day's Night."
Courtesy of Apple Corps Ltd.