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"A Hard Day's Night": Still working like a dog 50 years later

Even Pete Best likes it

"A Hard Day's Night" is the kind of timeless artifact that, decades after its making, still hits the senses like a burst of fresh air.

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I was born in 1983, so I'm a bit young to remember "Beatlemania". My first exposure to the Beatles was probably Ringo Starr's role as the best Mr. Conductor Shining Time Station ever had or his guest spot on the second season of The Simpsons. It wasn't until I was in college that I took in a horticulturally-augmented showing of Yellow Submarine. I remember very little of the experience, save that my review consisted of "They're right, maaan! We do all live in a yellow submarine!" repeated over and over in a manner reminiscent of Dennis Hopper in Apocalypse Now. But did you know that in addition to making that beloved animated acid trip, those four guys from Liverpool made other movies and even recorded a few LPs back in the day?

Last week marked the 50th anniversary of the classic Beatles movie A Hard Day's Night. The Grand Cinema proudly showed three select screenings of a newly restored print of the film to celebrate the occasion. Due to the film' s overwhelming popularity, tickets sold out almost immediately and a lot of Beatles fans and Grand patrons alike didn't get a chance to see it.

That's why The Grand is screening three more showings this week!

A Hard Day' s Night comes to us from director Richard Lester of Superman III fame. (Underrated movie, actually.) The film presents itself as a documentary - chronicling an average day in the life of the Beatles - but take that with a grain of salt. They made a real documentary about the Beatles with 1970's Let It Be. It won an Oscar. It's also incredibly depressing. It documents the group in their waning days as interpersonal conflicts began to tear the band apart and stands as the sec-, thir-, four-, fif-, sixth* worst thing that ever happened to them. Conversely, A Hard Day's Night is a documentary in the same way that This is Spinal Tap is a documentary, (i.e. not at all), and that's just fine.

The film opens with John, George, Ringo, Paul and Paul's grandfather, (the fifth Beatle?), on a train bound for a show in their hometown of Liverpool. Wackiness ensues from this point forward, with the boys drawing the amorous attentions of gaggles of shrieking girls, the shrieking girls drawing the amorous attentions of Paul's grandfather, and all parties concerned drawing the decidedly un-amorous attentions of the local constabulary. Ever the showmen, the mop-topped foursome find time to treat audiences to some of their classic tunes in the midst of all the commotion.

A Hard Day's Night wasn't an especially deep or insightful film when it premiered in 1964, and it still isn't. It was a marketing gimmick. A publicity stunt. A quick cash grab designed to capitalize on its stars' popularity before it faded. Had it starred practically any other musician or group, we would probably remember it in the same way we remember Cool as Ice, Crossroads and From Justin to Kelly. (We remember those, right?) Fortunately, it starred the Beatles, and the Fab Four's immense talent, charm and enduring legacy make the film an amusing and endearing time capsule from when they were at the top of their game.

A HARD DAY'S NIGHT, 1 p.m. Friday July 11 and Sunday, July 13, and 7 p.m. Thursday July 17, The Grand Cinema, 606 S, Fawcett, Tacoma, $5-$9.50, 253.593.4474

*First place goes to Yoko. It will always go to Yoko.

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