Richard Lester; 1964, 88 min. Recommended ages: 6+
Sitting at #1 on Rotten Tomatoes’ list of the best reviewed movies of all time, A Hard Days Night is “one of the great life-affirming landmarks of the movies” (Roger Ebert) and “pure infectious joy” (Kenneth Turan). Shot at the height of Beatlemania following their triumphant first US visit and Ed Sullivan appearances, and while the group occupied the top five spots on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, the film captures all the exhilaration, excitement, and optimistic energy that defined the early Beatles phenomenon. Shot in black-and-white, mock cinéma vérité style, director Richard Lester follows the foursome as they run from frenzied fans, poke fun at managers, cops, and other establishment types, and generally revel in their own youthful exuberance. Much has been said about the innovative quick-cut edits, the hand-held cameras, cutting to the beat, and the film’s other lasting influences — but whether you care about that kind of stuff or not is besides the point. When else can you spend 88 minutes smiling and feeling so positive about life?