One Direction of A Hard Day’s Night

by Bob Schwartz

This Is Us - A Hard Day's Night
This summer marks the anniversary of A Hard Day’s Night, released in July 1964. That isn’t exactly a round-numbered anniversary, but the upcoming release of One Direction’s This Is Us movie brings it to mind. According to the film’s producers:

ONE DIRECTION: THIS IS US is a captivating and intimate all-access look at life on the road for the global music phenomenon. Weaved with stunning live concert footage, this inspiring feature film tells the remarkable story of Niall, Zayn, Liam, Harry and Louis’ meteoric rise to fame, from their humble hometown beginnings and competing on the X-Factor, to conquering the world and performing at London’s famed O2 Arena. Hear it from the boys themselves and see through their own eyes what it’s really like to be One Direction.

The Beatles weren’t the first pop stars to create a movie to exploit and enhance their popularity and to satisfy the insatiable appetite of fans. Elvis had been doing if for years, with some decent creative results. But A Hard Day’s Night turned out to be something new and completely else. It combined great writing and direction with four young men who were personable, lovable, witty, and who were also the most artistically successful performer/songwriters of the 20th century (which wasn’t yet proven in 1964). In some ways, it couldn’t help but be at least okay (as for okay, see Help, the Beatles’ second movie). Instead it was outstanding, considered a great movie in it’s own right, and an inspiration for pop movies to come.

A Hard Day’s Night is not a documentary; it’s a non-documentary fictionalized chronicle of a television appearance. If you’re a movie fan, a pop music fan, or both, see it, even if you’re neutral on the Beatles. And if you’re a 1D fan, here are some of the critics’ takes on four British lads who’d never been in a movie before, but had knocked around in front of audiences for years, in some of the sleaziest dives in Europe. All these years later, A Hard Day’s Night is still on all-time lists (99% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes)—as, of course, is the music.

“Not only has this film not dated, it may even look fresher than it did in 1964; the zigzag cutting and camera moves, the jaunty ironies and pop-celebrity playfulness, are all standard issue now on MTV and its offspring.”

“It’s a fine conglomeration of madcap clowning in the old Marx Brothers’ style, and it is done with such a dazzling use of camera that it tickles the intellect and electrifies the nerves.”

“To watch the final concert segment is to look back decades and realize, as you do seeing vintage footage of Duke Ellington or Frank Sinatra or John Coltrane, that it’s never really gotten any better.”

“The music video by which all other music videos must be judged. And none top it.”

“No previous rocksploitation film had ever done so splendid a job of selling its performers.”

“An hour and a half of pure, chaotic bliss.”

One Direction’s This Is Us opens on August 30. Your turn, lads.