(1964)5Mark DemingIt's a blessing to Beatles fans that someone had the foresight to capture them on film in the midst of the first flash of Beatlemania. Was A Hard Day's Night an accurate picture of 36 hours in the life of the Fab Four? Probably not, though one can only hope for their sake that it was this much fun. The dry, cheeky wit of Alun Owen's screenplay may have been a bit tart for teens, but it's still smart and funny, and if the Beatles weren't all great actors (John Lennon and Ringo Starr come off well, but George Harrison often reveals why he was a guitar player and not a thespian), Owen cleverly allowed them to play to their strengths: John's charming snideness, Ringo's loveable sad-sack persona, Paul McCartney's cute cool guy routine, and George's quiet, no-nonsense attitude. The supporting cast blends in perfectly (no small feat with four strong personalities in the lead), and Richard Lester's sharp, inventive visual style was the perfect match for The Beatles' music: fresh, smart without being pretentious, brash in just the right ways, and an awful lot of fun. A Hard Day's Night has aged as well as the Beatles' music from the same period: timeless yet inescapably a product of its era.