There’s hardly anyone of a certain age who doesn’t remember when songs like “I Want to Hold Your Hand” first exploded on the radio.
It was the first wave of the British invasion in the U.S. The crowds went wild, and America’s youth was forever changed. Six months after The Beatles landed on American shores through their unforgettable “Ed Sullivan Show” appearance, they released their first film, “A Hard Day’s Night.”
Now, 50 years after Beatlemania took America by storm, “A Hard Day’s Night” is back in a fully restored digital music mix, and will be shown at the Malibu Screening Room Aug. 8 and 9, with two shows each night. print with completely remastered surround sound
The Beatles’ first film revolutionized movie musicals by blending techniques from traditional and documentary filmmaking with French New Wave Cinema (radical experimenting with editing and visual style) and live TV. It also influenced many filmmakers and laid the foundation for today’s music videos.
Coinciding with the film’s re-release is the first book ever to give a close-up, personal account of what really happened on that first tour. Written by former Malibu resident Ivor Davis, “The Beatles and Me on Tour” chronicles the entire experience. Davis will be signing copies of his book and participating in an audience Q&A at both of the Saturday shows.
Davis, who now lives in Ventura, was the only journalist to travel the entire tour with The Beatles, reporting for the London Daily Express and ghostwriting a newspaper column for guitarist George Harrison.
During the tour, Davis followed The Beatles nearly 24/7 as they crisscrossed the country – eating, drinking, playing, traveling and sometimes meeting other celebrities. No one else had this kind of access to the Fab Four, but it still took Davis a half-century to tell the story.
In an interview with The Malibu Times, Davis easily described what made each of the four Beatles unique.
“John Lennon was very funny, wicked and off-the-wall with a warped sense of humor. He could ad-lib and was like a stand-up comic with an attitude.” Davis recalled. “He was a terrible poker player and lost a lot of money. He was useless as a bluffer.”
“Paul McCartney was a big schmoozer, had a real PR sense and was confident with people,” Davis said.
“George Harrison was not comfortable with strangers or fame and had a hard time communicating, which made it hard for me to write his column. For the first few weeks, he was never awake when I needed the information,” Davis said. “When he finally read what I’d [ghost]-written for him, he described it as ‘a load of boring old shite.’ So he finally set aside some time to talk to me.”
Drummer Ringo Starr “was the least bright of the lot, yet very likeable,” Davis said. “There was something about him that people warmed to, [but] his original ambition was to open a beauty salon.”
As a group:
“They were all charming, fun and unpretentious,” Davis recalled. In the hotels, “we’d drink and play cards and Monopoly. John cheated.”
At the end of the grueling tour, Davis said he was exhausted and too busy with other work to reflect much on the experience. When asked to cover other music groups like the Dave Clark 5, Davis said, “Nothing could touch what I’d just been through. All the other rock groups were second bananas compared to The Beatles.”
After continuing his journalistic career over the next few decades with The Times of London, the New York Times, and Los Angeles Magazine, Davis said he never thought of his stint with The Beatles as a “big deal. It was dinner party conversation,” he said.
About 10 years ago, a local blogger contacted Davis about his tour experience, and Davis was not happy with the outcome. “That blog kept dogging me,” he said. “How do I get rid of it?”
In response, he wrote the book, just released July 15.
The Malibu Film Society will show the fully restored surround-sound 87-minute “A Hard Day’s Night” on Fri., August 8 at 7:30 p.m. and 9:15 p.m. and Sat., August 9 at 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. at the Malibu Screening Room, 24855 Pacific Coast Highway. Davis will appear in person for book signings and an audience Q&A on 8/9. Tickets can be purchased at www.malibufilmsociety.org