A Hard Day's Night | 1964
- DIRECTOR |
- Richard Lester
It’s amazing that, after 50 years, this film still comes over as fresh and funny as its first influential release, when many more recent movies are creaking with age.
Director Richard Lester, who started out making films with the Goons (The Running, Jumping, Standing Still Film), set the style for pop movies for decades to come with his freewheeling, machine-gun edited, surreal day-in-the-life musical.
The opening scenes of teen hysteria, meant to be Liverpool’s famous Lime Street Station, as fans pursue the boys onto the railway station, were filmed at London’s Marylebone Station (tube: Marylebone, Bakerloo Line).
The rail journey itself shunts between Paddington Station in London and Minehead and Taunton in Somerset, and Newton Abbot in Devon. The scene where the boys run alongside the train to annoy a grumpy commuter, is Crowcombe, north Somerset.
And the final destination? Possibly the shortest journey in the cinema. Why, it’s Marylebone Station, London – OK, from a different angle.
The Beatles are driven to the Scala Theatre, which used to stand at 21 Tottenham Street, just off Tottenham Court Road. It was demolished in 1969. A block of flats, Scala House, now occupies the site.
Wilfred Brambell, as Paul’s – very clean – grandad, excuses himself to go gambling at Les Ambassadeurs, Hamilton Place, behind the Hilton Hotel in swanky Mayfair, W1. Another great British icon also debuted on screen at Les Ambassadeurs. Although the gaming room was recreated in the studio, this is where James Bond (Sean Connery) first spoke the line “The name’s Bond... James Bond.” at the chemin-de-fer table in 1962’s Dr No.
The club’s Garrison Room served as the nightclub where the group demonstrate those fabulous Sixties dances.
The TV studio, where the band rehearse and perform the climactic concert, is the Scala again, but when the four escape down the fire escape for a moment of pixilated fun, it’s the iron staircase behind the London Apollo Hammersmith, Queen Caroline Street, in the days when it was famous as the Hammersmith Odeon, a legendary music venue. They hurry down the steps, only to land on the helicopter pad at Gatwick Airport, where their scamperings about are matched up with more footage filmed on the Thornbury Road Playing Fields, south of the Great West Road, A4 (tube: Osterley, Piccadilly Line).
Ringo takes off for a respite from the frenzy. With his camera, he ambles through Notting Hill Gate taking arty shots of milkbottles on Lancaster Road.
Spotted by a brace of squealing teen fans, he ducks into a junk shop to buy a disguise of peaked cap and old raincoat. The shop, at last look, a ladies’ lingerie shop, is Pret-a-Vivre, 20 All Saints Road, on the northeast corner of Lancaster Road.
He meanders along the Putney Towpath, the south bank of the Thames just west of Kew Bridge, in west London, before sampling pub sandwiches in the Turk’s Head, 28 Winchester Road at the corner of St Margaret’s Grove, St Margaret’s, Twickenham, Greater London, conveniently close to the film studios.
The chase sequence is around Notting Hill Gate, with the since-demolished St John’s Secondary School, which stood at 83 Clarendon Road, used as the police station.
It's back to the Scala for climax. Although the theatre is long-gone, you can still see unchanged, opposite its old entrance, Charlotte Mews, the alleyway from which the Fab Four finally emerge for the frenzied TV concert.