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Book details
  • Genre:MUSIC
  • SubGenre:History & Criticism
  • Language:English
  • Pages:81
  • eBook ISBN:9781483522135

The Beatles On Film

A Filmycks Guide

by Michael J Roberts

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Overview
"Before Elvis there was nothing" – John Lennon Discovering the joy of the epoch defining music and of the scarcely believable story of a certain Liverpudlian quartet, who operated in a small time window during the second half of the 20th century, seems to be an experience that will long outlive all those who lived through it. Apart from the music, which speaks for itself, a good place to find out about the people involved and what all the fuss was about is to work through their feature film output and to examine some of the better films that are centred on their story, or parts of it. As opposed to the Elvis Presley film legacy, the Beatles were well served in the main by the cinematic medium, leaving a body of work to be envious of and they remain crucial visual documents of a miraculous time. The Beatles story is revealed in some depth via the 'documentary' bookends of the fable, The Beatles: The First US Visit and A Hard Day's Night at the beginning and the (almost) warts and all Let It Be at the fractious end. The lads took to the silver screen with a naturalness and flair typical of their approach to every aspect of their career, but unlike Elvis they never let the 'tail' of their film work wag the 'dog' of their musical work.
Description
"Before Elvis there was nothing" – John Lennon Discovering the joy of the epoch defining music and of the scarcely believable story of a certain Liverpudlian quartet, who operated in a small time window during the second half of the 20th century, seems to be an experience that will long outlive all those who lived through it. Apart from the music, which speaks for itself, a good place to find out about the people involved and what all the fuss was about is to work through their feature film output and to examine some of the better films that are centred on their story, or parts of it. As opposed to the Elvis Presley film legacy, the Beatles were well served in the main by the cinematic medium, leaving a body of work to be envious of and they remain crucial visual documents of a miraculous time. The Beatles story is revealed in some depth via the 'documentary' bookends of the fable, The Beatles: The First US Visit and A Hard Day's Night at the beginning and the (almost) warts and all Let It Be at the fractious end. The lads took to the silver screen with a naturalness and flair typical of their approach to every aspect of their career, but unlike Elvis they never let the 'tail' of their film work wag the 'dog' of their musical work. Elvis Presley, ironically, was their hero, but even they were quick to condemn the hackneyed scripts and hack directors that the 'King' was lumbered with. Elvis and his manager, The Colonel, an ex-carnival flim-flam man, both felt rock and roll was a fad, as did conventional entertainment industry wisdom and they agreed that the future for Elvis and 'legitimate' stardom, was to be found in movies. Hal Wallis was a fading Hollywood power in the mid 1950's, working at Paramount after a dazzling career in the 1930's and 1940's that saw him produce, amongst others, the immortal The Adventures of Robin Hood and Casablanca for Warner Brothers. Wallis knew an entertainment phenomena when he saw one, having helmed Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin's transition from the comedy nightclub stage to Hollywood stardom and he cannily packaged the charismatic boy from Memphis for mass consumption. What Hal Wallis did was play to an already established market and this immediately put Presley in a straightjacket in terms of scripts and scenario's that would play to those preconceptions. The pity of it was that the formula Wallis established was never varied and the electric performer that audiences loved on the rock and roll stage was rarely spotted on the silver screen. Wallis later said, "Elvis was a great entertainer, and a great personality, and that is what we bought when we bought him. The idea of tailoring Elvis for dramatic roles is something that we never attempted because we did not sign Elvis as a second Jimmy Dean. We signed him as a number one Elvis Presley." Wallis hired his old cronies, B-list writers and directors like Hal Kanter and Norman Taurog, veterans of the Lewis and Martin cycle and of some old Bob Hope chestnuts.
About the author
About The Author Michael J Roberts is a Sydney based musician, producer and writer with extensive experience in the music and film industry. Michael writes about his passion for feature film on his own website, Filmycks.com and is currently working on a feature film screenplay and a book on the counter culture of the 1960's. Michael is in the process of publishing a series of film books that will focus on areas of interest such as French film from the Poetic Realist and Nouvelle Vague eras and work on Film Noir and the Hollywood Blacklist. Michael began in the arts industry as singer-songwriter in bands in Hobart in the late '70's, having two local top twenty hits with songs co-written with his Albatross band mate, and song writing partner, Anthony Ackroyd. Anthony and Michael signed to Glenn Wheatley's Tumbleweed Music as 19 year olds, before re-locating in the 80's to Sydney and signing a contract with Chappell Music. The pair worked extensively in musical theatre and comedy shows, at iconic venues like Belvoir Street Theatre in Sydney and The Last Laugh in Melbourne, before writing 'Raging', the first song ever played on ABC's iconic video show 'Rage'. Michael also worked in theatre, writing and performing the children's musical with noted writers Judy Nunn and Bruce Venables, The Riddle of the Trumpalar. Michael has produced and supported the successful, award winning children's group Captain Bandanna, as well as albums for folk stalwarts Kate Delany and Phyl Lobl. Michael co-scored the low budget horror-satire film, Mad Bomber in Love with Phil Rigger, as well as several documentaries for Government agencies. Michael has produced multi Mo Award winning artist Rikki Organ's debut and follow up albums, My Dad's First Album and A Tribute to JOK. Michael produced two UK Americana number one albums for Scottish-Australian singer-songwriter Karl Broadie, in Nowhere Now Here and Black Crow Calling, touring the UK extensively in Karl's band in 2005 to promote the second and Golden Guitar nominated album. Michael also produced Red Dust, the debut album from Den Hanrahan, and the debut album from ex Home and Away star Craig Thomson, called Long Way There. Michael nurtured and produced Katie Brianna's superb debut album, Dark Side of the Morning. Michael is a multi-instrumentalist, a piano player and guitarist primarily, but has contributed variously on accordion, mandolin, to albums by Chuck's Wagon and The Dear Orphans, as well as playing bass on his brother Paul's debut EP, Forever's Sunrise. Michael's wide experience and extensive knowledge and passion for modern song writing leaves him perfectly positioned to communicate his incisive and informative analysis of the artistry and skill needed to write great songs and this has led to his publishing project, The Great Songwriters.
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