HTF REVIEW: "A Hard Day's Night" (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Sep 23, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    [​IMG]

    A Hard Day's Night




    Studio: Miramax
    Year: 1964
    Rated: G
    Film Length: 92 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.66:1)
    Subtitles: English



    Rock and Roll was forever changed in the early 60s
    when four musicians from Liverpool known as The
    Beatles created a pop-cultural revolution unlike
    anything seen before or after it. For several
    months, the Beatles sold two-thirds of all singles
    and albums in the country and held the top four or
    five spots on the hit charts.
    [​IMG]
    It was destined that the fab four would soon come
    to the silver screen. Alan Owen came up with a
    screenplay after he spent three days with The
    Beatles during their England tour in 1963.
    Through Director Richard Lester's intricate
    direction and the natural charms of John, Paul,
    George, and Ringo, A Hard Day's Night
    tells the story of two "typical" days in the lives
    of the Beatles as they get ready for a concert.
    [​IMG]
    Told in a documentary-like style, the film is
    filled with slapstick, sight gags and silly
    situations that hold this film together in between
    the musical sequences. Of course, all of this
    was done to promote their newest album.
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Miramax has released A Hard Day's Night in
    a deluxe 2-disc Collector's Series Edition that
    arrives in a gray slipcase that sports the faces
    of the fab four through its transparent windows.
    The innards pull out to an attractive 4-pane gatefold
    that hold the 2-discs in plastic hub housing amongst
    some beautiful glossy B&W photos of The Beatles.
    How is the transfer?
    On a whole, the black and white transfer looks
    quite good for its age. Though the transfer is
    not as sharp as I would have expected, The picture
    is well detailed with solid black levels. There
    are a few noticeable traces of film dirt present
    from time to time, but otherwise, the print is very
    clean.
    [​IMG]
    I started to watch this film with the 5.1
    surround track, but quickly opted to turn it
    off as it added nothing to the presentation.
    In 5.1 mode, the dialogue is placed in the center
    channel, with nothing supported in the front left
    and right channels. It is only during the film's
    musical numbers that the fronts come into play
    with the rear channels only adding an "echo"
    effect to what is happening in the front channels.
    There is also narely any added bass through the
    LFE channel. By opting to listen to this DVD in
    standard stereo mode, I was able to enjoy a much
    more realistic dynamic sounding mix without the
    echo effects of the the rears.
    [​IMG]
    Dialogue comes across very clearly, a bit on the
    shrill side, but with no over modulation. There
    is the slightest hint of hiss beneath these
    dialogue sequences. As you would expect, the
    musical sequences are greatly enhanced with
    overdubs that have consistently greater dynamic
    range.
    In short, this transfer is as good as it is
    going to get, and its pretty damn good for a
    film of this age.
    Miramax has released A Hard Day's Night as
    a deluxe 2-disc Collector's Series Edition that
    arrives in a bulky cardboard slipcover case that
    provides transparent windows to the individual
    faces of John, Paul, George and Ringo. The inner
    package slips out and opens up to a 4-pane gatefold
    that holds the 2 discs in plastic hub housing
    surrounded by beautiful glossy B&W photos of the
    individual Beatles.
    Special Features
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    The DVD contains a wonderful live action/animated
    menu sequence that opens small windows of the fab
    four alongside windows of screaming fans (whose
    screams can be heard in the rear channels in 5.1
    mode).
    Disc One contains the entire feature film.
    While there is absolutely no running commentary,
    there are two sets of supplements included on this
    disc...
    [​IMG]
    Things We Said Today.... may not contain
    any interviews from the surviving band members,
    but they do contain all-new interviews from the
    filmmakers and people who were around them. We
    begin with David Picker who was the VP of Production
    and Marketing at United Artists between 1962 and
    1964 who recalls green lighting the film production
    based on the promise of publishing and soundtrack
    rights. Beatles Record Producer Sir George Martin
    recalls how manager Brian Epstein secured a three
    picture film deal despite the fact that the group
    was pretty much set against doing any films. The
    creative success of A Hard Day's Night can
    be attributed to Director Richard Lester, Producer
    Walter Shenson and Screenwriter Alan Owen. In
    interviews with both Lester and Owen, the men
    recall how easy it was to write the film as they
    hung out with The Beatles between stage shows and
    in the privacy of their hotel rooms. At the height
    of Beatlemania, the filmmakers talk about the
    tactical problems of making this film, keeping the
    very aware public very unaware of where the group
    was filming. There are some great pieces of
    footage that show the hysteria that surrounded the
    filming, while filmmakers and friends recall some
    very funny moments on the sets.
    (length: approx. 36 minutes)
    DVD-ROM content features an enhanced
    Script Viewer that lets you read one of
    two scripts while watching the film as well as
    access to a website filled with pictures and
    production notes.
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    Disc Two is just overwhelmingly filled
    with interviews from the filmmakers, the cast
    and personal friends of The Beatles themselves.
    There's even a nice tribute to Wilfred Brambell,
    the film's "clean old man", by Steptoe and
    Son
    creators Alan Simpson and Ray Galton.
    Final Thoughts
    On the one hand, this edition of A Hard Day's
    Night sports a brand new pristine transfer
    and soundtrack making this an exciting viewable
    experience. On the other hand, while the DVD is
    chock-full of interviews, it becomes a bit
    overwhelming in the manner that it is presented.
    I just didn't want to sit here and review one
    single camera interview after another. How about
    some original film trailers or other promotional
    spots? Perhaps a running commentary by Lester
    and Owen? This is the sort of stuff you opt to
    watch first.
    [​IMG]
    I suppose I should keep my mouth shut and just
    be thankful that A Hard Day' Night has
    made it to DVD in the first place, receiving
    careful attention to its overall transfer.
    I don't have to hard sell this DVD to anyone that
    is a fan of The Beatles. I'm one of the biggest!
    Release Date: September 23, 2002
     
  2. Randy Torres

    Randy Torres Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for the review ron, I'll definetly be picking this one up!!
     
  3. LarryDavenport

    LarryDavenport Cinematographer

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    Thanks Ron. I'll be picking this up on payday, but I'm also glad I kept my Criterion LD. What happened to Richard Lester's short film that was on the LD?

    I hope we won't have to wait too long for Help!
     
  4. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    I have the title as well and generally agree with Ron's assessment. I'm not too crazy about how they mixed the music tracks (too bassy and jarring compared to the rest of the soundtrack), but otherwise think they did a fine job. The first and last reels were from a source that was at least a generation older than the rest of the transfer. One generation usually would not be too noticeable on a video transfer, but I believe you have to add at least one or two more generations for the titles on the first reel, and it shows. Things improve considerably after the opening titles, though.

    If they had just included the original mono track, it would have been the definitive video presentation I wanted. Ah well...maybe next time.

    Regards,
     
  5. Marty M

    Marty M Cinematographer

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    I have this coming from DVD Empire, but like a lot of other people I am somewhat disappointed in some of the things that were first annoncend but were subsequently not included in this version. I will be keeping my MPI version along with this one.
     
  6. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Guys,
    I deeply apologize for not being more in-depth
    with the Disc Two supplements. I just
    returned from vacation and there were literally
    a dozen DVD titles sent to me in 5 days.
    I have a lot of catching up to do and sitting
    through a crapload of single-camera interviews
    was just a bit too much for me.
    I don't like cutting corners on my reviews, and
    I hope you'll forgive my lack of thoroughness on
    this one.
     
  7. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    Hey Ron, I'll try to round some of the corner for you.

    As mentioned, the extras consist of primarily one-camera talking head interview clips with occasional film clips interspersed. The first disc has a featurette that is edited together primarily from a number of these interviews. One small annoyance with the set-up is that all of the segments have cutesy titles, but unless you keep the non-attached backing slip from the packaging handy or can remember things like "I've Lost My Little Girl" is an interview with a cast member from a deleted scene, you have to select the menu item before you can see a plain English description of its contents.

    There is a lot of interview content here representing the perspectives of folks who have not normally been represented in previous discussions of the film including supporting cast members, production and post-production crew, Beatle-friend Klaus Voorman, and others. Some of the ususal suspects such as Richard Lester, George Martin, and the late Walter Shenson are also well represented with new interviews.

    It is nice to have these perspectives, but it can be difficult watching them one after the other as they often include the reactions of the interviewee to the Beatles phenomenon and statements about how nice and fun they were to work with. There is nothing wrong with this per se, but it makes the interviews drag if you try to get through them in one sitting.

    The supplements are not definitive, but they are complementary to previously released making of information from "Anthology", "You Can't Do That!: The Making of 'A Hard Day's Night'", and the previous DVD and laserdisc releases of the film. They fill in gaps without making previous versions obsolete.

    I haven't been through all of the DVD-ROM content, yet, so I cannot comment on that.

    Regards,
     
  8. Rob Gardiner

    Rob Gardiner Cinematographer

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  9. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    The stereo track contains the original mono. The songs have been dubbed in from the original masters (since the same thing was done originally.)

    As for the 5.1...it should have been a little more engaging. The sound effects track was found during the original Paul Rutan restoration, but dialogue was never found separately.

    In fact...the only sound materials remaining with complete sound were the highly distorted 1964 track or the fairly distorted 1980's re-release track. I think it took a ton of digital engineering to get the track even listenable.
     
  10. Blaine Skerry

    Blaine Skerry Second Unit

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    My local video distributor says this title is being delayed in Canada. Any other Canucks getting this story?

    By the way, even if you hate the Beatles(perish the thought), this film is worth a look just to see Wilfred Brambell's comic-gem of a performance as Paul's grandfather.
     
  11. NickSo

    NickSo Producer

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    I wonder how much itll go for in canada... I've been a beatles fan since i can remember, and i have HELP! (Criterion ed) on laserdisc, as well as YELLOW SUBMARINE.
    I havent seen AHDN, but if its cheap, ill buy it sight unseen [​IMG]
     
  12. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Producer

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    DeepDiscount just reduced the price of AHDN to a very affordable $17.89!! [​IMG]
    (DDD has been slashing prices on every single 9/24 release! Gotta say: I love it! [​IMG] )
     
  13. Rob Tomlin

    Rob Tomlin Producer

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  14. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    Hey, I'm not THAT big of a Beatles fan. I only have one copy of the Butcher cover album. [​IMG]
     
  15. Rob Tomlin

    Rob Tomlin Producer

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  16. Keith Paynter

    Keith Paynter Screenwriter

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  17. Rob Tomlin

    Rob Tomlin Producer

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    Good one Keith! [​IMG]
     
  18. Kurt N

    Kurt N Stunt Coordinator

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    Disappointed in the extras vanishing/changing but I'm still gonna be at Best Buy when they open to get this. The screenshots look great. The day is finally here. I'm tired of waiting for this one.
     
  19. Paul D G

    Paul D G Screenwriter

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    Finally it's here! Though I'm pretty disappointed in the final release contents. I thought they were holding off on the release to make this the best possible, definitive release (or so I've heard). I wonder what the story is.

    -paul
    Only one butcher cover here as well. Im such a disgrace.
     
  20. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    Rob,
    That's the funniest thing I've heard since someone said that Lawrence of Arabia was better than the Apartment
    . I've got some 8-track tapes of them that I might trade you for front row playoff Laker tickets. [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     

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