CHICAGO – Standing up at the Lyric Opera house in Chicago is unusual before a show. But in this case, it was the night after a tragedy, and the operetta “The Merry Widow” – set in Paris, France, in 1905 – was about to unfold. The orchestra struck up La Marseillaise, a reminder that we’ll always have Paris.
Blu-ray Review: The Beatles’ ‘Help!’ Given Loving HD Restoration
CHICAGO – After the massive success of “A Hard Day’s Night,” director Richard Lester was given more money and more creative freedom to direct “Help!,” a film seen as a disappointment by many at the time, including The Beatles themselves, but historically appreciated (as are most things John, Paul, George, and Ringo). The Beatles 1965 classic has been given a loving restoration, particularly in the sound department, and accompanied by interesting special features and attractive packaging. It’s a great gift idea for The Beatles fan in your family.
How has the movie held up? So-so. It’s easier to appreciate some of the manic energy of the piece, a style that would influence everything from The Monkees to “Spice World,” but the film kind of wears out its welcome in terms of wacky behavior and doesn’t contain nearly enough actual music for a huge fan of The Beatles such as myself. There are only seven songs in the film, including hits like the title track, “Ticket to Ride,” “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away,” and “Another Girl.” The goofy plot, modeled as a spoof of Bond movies in a way to fully capitalize on everything popular in the mid-’60s, gets grating more quickly than I remembered but one has to admire the “let’s have fun” spirit of the whole thing. Even John Lennon reportedly came around to liking the film.
As for the Blu-ray, the new audio mix is stellar. The video is so-so but the audio track in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is something every Beatles fan will enjoy. Special features are thorough and the packaging includes a booklet with stills and promotional material for the film. It’s an unexpected treat for music fans in a season in which the Blu-ray market is often dominated by the dreck that played the multiplex in the first quarter of the year. “Help!” may not be the best of The Beatles but most fans of the band want everything related to the Fab Four and they’ll be more than satisfied.
The Beatles Help! was released on Blu-ray on June 25, 2013
Photo credit: Universal
Directed by Richard Lester, who also directed the band’s debut feature film A Hard Day’s Night, Help! made its theatrical debut in 1965. The story follows The Beatles as they become passive recipients of an outside plot that revolves around Ringo’s possession of a sacrificial ring, which he cannot remove from his finger. As a result, he and his bandmates John, Paul and George are chased from London to the Austrian Alps and the Bahamas by religious cult members, a mad scientist and the London police. In addition to starring the Beatles, Help! has a witty script, a great cast of British character actors and features 7 classic Beatles tracks.
o The Beatles In Help!: 30 Minute Documentary About The Making of The Film, With Richard Lester, The Cast and Crew
o A Missing Scene: Featuring Wendy Richard
o The Restoration Of Help!: An In-Depth Look At The Restoration Process
o Memories Of Help!: The Cast And Crew Reminisce
o 3 Theatrical Trailers
o 1965 Radio Spots