The year is 1964 and the pop music world is going to change in the US. The Beatles are set to play the Ed Sullivan Show in New York City. It would inspired a group of young musicians to go to the garage and start bands and kick off the garage boom of the mid to late ’60s which for my money is more important than anything the Beatles ever did musically. I’ve never been a Beatles fan anyway always preferred The Stones and especially The Kinks.
The action of the film concerns a group of girlfriends from Suburban Jersey who travel to New York City to try to sneak into The Beatles’ hotel rooms. They “borrow” a limo and the 7 hour journey to the city. They attempt to get past security and the film then follows the hijinks of the group in their attempt to see The Beatles.
Zemeckis’ displays a good sense of time and place with the film. The clothes for the most part seem time appropriate, often when filmmakers set films in the ’60s they use later ’60s fashion and even by 1964 especially in the US the fashion was still very much layovers from the ’50s. Zemeckis’ despite using studio back lots was able to similarly recreate a living breathing version of the ’50s for the first Back to The Future.
The film moves at fun smooth pace of around 100 minutes. The humour is spot on and remains funny throughout which even some of the very best comedies of all-time don’t do. Paul Newman’s daughter Susan Kendall Newman as the folk loving Beatles hating Janis Goldman made me laugh out loud more than once. Nancy Allen as gives a strong performance as the soon to be married Pam in an early film role for her. Dick Miller who is always a pleasure appears as one of the police guarding The Beatles’ hotel room.
The film naturally used a lot of The Beatles’ early music and in total 17 songs. To license one of these songs for a modern film would set them back more than I Wanna Hold Your Hand‘s entire budget. This was made possible because these early songs were then owned by a different music publisher than the majority of Lennon-McCartney catalogue.
It’s a fine debut from a director who would become a poor man’s Spielberg who actually discovered Zemeckis and served as executive producer on I Wanna Hold Your Hand. He actually agreed if Zemeckis did a terrible job of directing it he would step into direct the film if need be. Luckily for him he did a good enough job to stay on the film for the higher-ups but despite a strong preview screening the film underperformed at the box-office.
The disc includes a commentary from the director Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale and the film’s original theatrical trailers. It’s also as far as I can tell a worldwide Blu-Ray debut for the film. Let’s hope this isn’t the last Zemeckis offering from Fabulous Films and they can release his cult-classic Used Cars in the future especially since a HD master already exists.