55 Years Ago: ‘Follow the Beatles’ Documentary Shares Fab Secrets
On August 3, 1964, a month after A Hard Day's Night helped the world fall even more in love with the Beatles, the BBC offered their rabid fans a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the Fab Four's debut movie with Follow the Beatles.
The Robert Robinson-narrated documentary, which you can see here, showed off even more of the Beatles' charming and witty personalities, and revealed some very interesting secrets and perspectives on the making of their debut film. Here's six things we learned while re-watching Follow the Beatles all these years later.
The Beatles were bullied and manhandled on their own film set
John Lennon, Ringo Starr, George Harrison and Paul McCartney were constantly grabbed at and pushed around by fans, onlookers, and even the police who were involved in the film. A Hard Day’s Night writer Allen Owen discusses his astonishment with how the calm, relaxed Beatles “just went with it”, despite repeatedly being subject to actual physical pain.
Fans begged the film’s hairdresser for locks of Beatles’ hair
Anything touched, worn, or grown on a Beatle was considered gold to the star-struck youngsters. “I had lots of letters from all over the world asking for pieces of hair,” their hairdresser states. “If I had answered them all, the Beatles probably would have been bald by now!”
No studios were used in the film
A Hard Days Night director Richard Lester strived to make the film feel more authentic by shooting the scenes in real situations, including an actual unsteady train. “There is a certain quality that happens when you are forced to accept the limitations of not having a tripod, not having the proper lighting, not having the proper sound,” he explained.
Ringo was considered the main “Starr"
The documentary describes Ringo Starr as the best actor in the film, the most convincing, and the most real of the four inexperienced actors. Lionel Blair, the film’s choreographer, also reveals Ringo’s other talent aside from drumming and acting...his dancing! Blair states that Ringo’s amazing rhythm earned him the title of “the best dancer of the four.”
Script writer Allen Owen followed the Beatles around for weeks to pick up their dialogue
This experiment was the only method Owen could use to accurately write lines for the actors, since no one wanted the Beatles to play anyone but themselves. Owen thus learned the specific speaking characteristics of each Beatle, which he then transferred seamlessly into a flawless script.
The crew was not used to the screaming girls
Once the theaters for A Hard Days Night concert scenes were opened to the audience, the room was filled with the shrieks of hysterically screaming young girls. While the Beatles had grown accustomed to this chaos, the crew members were shocked and uncertain of how to handle the uproar. “The first time I heard the screaming, I just couldn’t believe it. My ear drums were aching with the noise,” Lester stated. He told George Harrison, “My God, how about that!” and George comically responded, “Yeah they were a bit quiet tonight, weren’t they?”