The Beatles First Hard Day's Night

03/02/2012
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(Gibson) On this day in 1964, The Beatles began filming what would become their first feature film, A Hard Day's Night, at Marylebone train station in London. Gibson takes a look back: With Beatlemania running rampant in both Britain and America and spreading rapidly to other countries, The Beatles were riding high in early 1964. Having scored a couple of #1 albums and an armload of #1 singles, the Fab Four had properly conquered the music world and were set to make their mark in another medium. On this day in 1964, The Beatles began filming A Hard Day's Night.

Although John, Paul, George and Ringo had become huge pop stars, the movie didn't have a lavish budget. Shot in black-and-white, A Hard Day's Night was made for the relatively small sum of 200,000 (around $500,000). Both the writer and the director of the film had been selected because The Beatles had been fans of their previous work. Director Richard Lester had made The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film with Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers each of whom the boys loved. Meanwhile, writer Alun Owen had proven he could pen his share of Liverpudlian dialog in his play No Trams to Lime Street.

To get a sense for how Lennon, McCartney and the guys talked to each other and to outsiders, Owen spent a few days with The Beatles as they sprinted through their busy schedule. He described the experience as "a train and a room and a car and a room and a room and a room," a line that would make it into the screenplay. McCartney would later praise Owen's work: "Alun hung around with us and was careful to try and put words in our mouths that he might've heard us speak, so I thought he did a very good script."

With the screenplay complete, The Beatles reported to Twickenham Studios and Paddington Station on March 2 to begin the filming process. Although the movie wasn't shot exactly in order of how the scenes occur, the shooting schedule followed the general events of the film something than Lennon later noted. "Normally in pictures, you do things back to front, like the end, you make a film of that on one day and then the next day you do the beginning," John said. "But in this one, we almost did it in sequence."

At Paddington, the boys boarded a train at 6:43 p.m. and continued to shoot some of the scenes that take place early in the movie while it was traveling. McCartney remembered it being a whirlwind introduction to moviemaking.

"So it was very exciting, we got on a train one day, and so the train took off and we were in a film," Paul said. "And there were these little girls, schoolgirls in gym slips who were actually models, and we were of course, quite fascinated with them."

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Copyright Gibson.com - Excerpted here with permission.

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