The Fab Four wisely reunited with Richard Lester, the director of their first film effort (A Hard Day’s Night), for Help!, an equally good and much-zanier movie.
Ringo winds up with some sort of ring on his finger that he can’t take off—and this ring is essential in some crazy guy’s human-sacrifice ritual. So Ringo, Paul, George and John get chased all over the globe, including the Alps and the Bahamas (essentially because the boys wanted to get vacations there). The resulting film is the funniest British humor this side of Monty Python.
I love John Lennon here, still sporting his mop-top and seemingly enjoying his part in Beatlemania. Lester pioneered music videos in a way with this movie; I love the sequence for “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away,” with Lennon strumming away happily on an acoustic guitar.
And what’s cooler than the house in which the four live? They have grass in one room, vending machines, and John’s awesome bed in the floor. I’d like to believe they really lived in a house in which Paul played a pump organ that rose from the floor, but that’s just wishful thinking.
As for Paul, his adventures after being shrunken are classic. (He eventually bathes in orange soda.) There’s a loose, wacky spirit to this movie, and I wish the boys had made a few more with Lester in this mode before starting to splitting apart.
As for Lester, he went on to make the brilliant A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum before ruining the Superman franchise with Superman III.
The Beatles would go on to make a few more films, including Magical Mystery Tour and Let It Be. (They also had some involvement in The Yellow Submarine.) In many ways, this was their best and most-enjoyable cinematic effort.
Meanwhile, McCartney would go on to make Give My Regards to Broad Street. Actually, it’s bad form for me to mention that.
Special Features: Details of a lost sequence, and an excellent making-of doc are the standouts.