A-hard-days-night-bookIn 2014, when the 50th anniversary of the iconic film was marked by a restoration release, John Powers (National Public Radio) described “A Hard Day’s Night” as a “pop artifact that still crackles with energy”: “In the unmistakable alchemy of their sound — and in their authentic laughter as they run from shrieking fans during the film’s opening credits — the Beatles embodied the hope and vitality the world was looking for then and still loves to this day (…). All those hard days and nights paid off,  for more than any band I can think of, they captured the yeah-yeah-yeah of happiness.

Just wonderful! “The yeah-yeah-yeah of happiness” vividly summarizes all the talent, joy, laughter and energy invested in this film, consolidating Beatles’ fame and status as artists who are here to stay. “A Hard Day’s Night” is a milestone for the Beatles, a landmark, a hurricane that took over the world and became a timeless classic.

Screenshot_4In a similar way, “The Beatles A Hard Day’s Night: A Private Archive” is also a celebration of happiness, vitality, intensity, innovation. It sparkles color over the classic black and white movie, uniting all the pieces of the puzzle and creating an amazing overall picture of this pioneer film production.

Martha Karsh, attorney, writer, and philanthropist, made it possible. The Karsh family collects rock-and-roll memorabilia and have invested in iconic songs catalogs. They own the film and archive for “A Hard Day’s Night” and share the ownership of “Help!” with The Beatles: “In 2001 my husband, Bruce, and I acquired both the copyright to the film and the vast archive from Mr. Shenson’s estate. The photographs – film stills, on-set production images, and head shots – most never before published, depict The Beatles as they were in 1964: young, authentic, and extraordinary talented, focused but also lighthearted and cheeky“.

This special book edition also includes the authoritative essay and lively captions by Mark Lewisohn, which provide context and explores the impact and enduring legacy of “A Hard Day’s Night”. Mark Lewisohn is widely considered the world’s leading historian and authority on The Beatles, a reputation launched in his years as a researcher for other writers and confirmed in 1986 when he authored The Beatles Live! – a diary-like account of the group as stage performers. Since then he has written several additional highly acclaimed books.

Mark Lewisohn skillfully outlines why this film was a first in many ways. “A Hard Day’s Night wasn’t only a good Beatles film, it was a good film, period. A great film, critics have consistently said, with ample reason. It could have been an anticlimax, but instead was yet another enormous triumph for The Beatles, to follow all previous enormous triumphs and precede those to come. Everything they did turned to gold, and now they were legitimate film stars, too – in something realist, funny, and smart. Their extremely rare trick of marrying cutting-edge originality with immense mainstream popularity was making them a phenomenon.”


At first, The Beatles were interested in making a film, but they dismissed the idea of a “jukebox musical”, the money making formula adopted by huge artists like Elvis Presley or his number one British rival, Cliff Richard. “The Beatles always had opinions – always – but the public overwhelmingly saw their more-evident virtues. They were new and they were different. They were intelligent and articulate. They were dynamic, very funny, and visually attractive to both sexes and all ages. They were alive, singing and playing music that was rhythmic, melodic, original, and smart – ear-grabbing, soul-seizing pop songs mostly written by two of them”, Lewisohn writes.

The Beatles wanted to shoot a film they were comfortable with and over which they could exert influence, so they promptly approached a writer of their choosing – Alun Owen, an edgy-humored writer who also grew up in Liverpool. Afterwards, director Richard Lester and film producer Walter Shenson joined the team, eager to make this innovative and creative project come true. As Mark Lewisohn highlights, Lester put a “surrealistic stamp on the film’s core realism”.


Richard Lester himself wrote the foreword of this book, definitely increasing the value of this compelling memorabilia compendium: “We all met at Paddington Station, London, on the first day of making A Hard Day’s Night. Seeing The Beatles literally being chased down the platform by the fans, I grabbed an Arriflex camera and started shooting – and a little bit of that footage got into the film (…).

I’ve had a lovely life in the cinema and a career that has thrilled me – and sometimes entertained audiences – but I know it’s because of The Beatles that I’ll be remembered. And I’m very grateful for that.”

Page by page, “The Beatles A Hard Day’s Night: A Private Archive” turns out to be a completely fascinating compendium dedicated to “A Hard Day’s Night” phenomenon. This comprehensive archive includes a stunning collection of never before seen photos, original documents, screenplay drafts with annotations, fan letters, marketing materials and even files from the production budget, through which you can browse for hours.


You cannot stop wondering, discovering new details, new angles, new facts, or simply gazing at the original Beatles pictures (photos from movie scenes or behind the scenes). This charming book should definitely be a crown jewel in every Beatles’ fan home collection.

“The Beatles A Hard Day’s Night: A Private Archive” is available here.

Categories: Reviews

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