is a 1965 Britishadventurefilm directed byRichard Lester, starringthe BeatlesJohn LennonPaul McCartneyGeorge HarrisonandRingo Starrand featuringLeo McKernEleanor BronVictor SpinettiJohn BluthalRoy KinnearandPatrick Cargill. The second film starring The Beatles following Lesterssees the group struggle to record their new album while trying to protect Ringo from a sinistercultand a pair of mad scientists, all of whom are obsessed with obtaining one of his rings.The soundtrack was released as an album, also called
The film had its Royal World Premiere at theLondon PavilionTheatre in theWest End of Londonon 29 July 1965 in the presence ofPrincess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon and theEarl of Snowdon. While not reviewed at the time with the same high level of admiration as their first film, the film is regarded a half century later as being influential, including in the subsequent development ofmusic videos.
An(a parody of theThuggeecult) is about to sacrifice a woman to the. Just as she is about to be killed, the high priestess of the cult, Ahme, notices that she is not wearing the sacrificial ring.Ringo Starr, drummer ofthe Beatles, has the ring and is wearing it; it was secretly sent to him by the victim in a fan letter. Determined to retrieve the ring and sacrifice the woman, the greatSwamiClang, Ahme, and several cult members including Bhuta, leave for London. After several failed attempts to steal the ring, they confront the Beatles in an Indian restaurant. Ringo learns that if he does not return the ring soon, he will become the next sacrifice. Ringo then discovers that the ring is stuck on his finger.
The Beatles go to a jeweller to remove the ring, but the tools he uses all break. They then go to a mad scientist, Foot, and his assistant Algernon. In a lab full of American-made equipment, they attempt to expand the rings molecules so it can slide off Ringos finger. But the machines only manage to remove all his other rings. Astonished that his equipment has no effect on the ring, Foot decides that he, too, must have it. While they bumble with trying to get a laser together, Ahme crashes the lab and holds the scientists at gunpoint while she lets the Beatles escape.
Back home, Ahme tells the group that her sisters time has passed and she is now out of danger and Ringo is now the sacrificial victim. She prepares a special solution intended to shrink Ringos finger so she can get the ring off. But then Clang and his henchmen crash the house, causing Ahme to drop the syringe on Pauls leg. While a shrunken Paul hides in an ashtray, the cult attack the other Beatles and pour red paint on Ringo (as part of the sacrifice). Foot and Algernon come in, shoots a warning shot with hisWebleyand scares the cult away, Ahme in tow. Paul unshrinks and John subsequently starts to swing a lamp at Foot who tries to shoot him, but his gun misfires. Blaming this on the fact that the gun is British made, Foot retreats. The boys are left to sort things out.
The band flees to the Austrian Alps for refuge but both thugs and Foot follow in pursuit. The Beatles practise skiing, then participate in a game ofcurling. Foot and Algernon booby-trap one of the curling stones with a bomb; George sees the fiendish thingy and tells everyone to run. The bomb eventually goes off after a delay, creating a big hole in the ice from which a Channel swimmer (Mal Evans) emerges and asks directions to the White Cliffs of Dover. The boys ski down a slope fleeing from Clang, directed by Ahme, who then misdirects Clang to the take-off ramp for a Ski jumping contest. Clang is the winner, and is forced to the winners platform to receive a gold medal.
The group escapes back to England and they ask for protection fromScotland Yard; and get it in the form of a cowardlyInspector(Cargill). After being attacked while recording in the middle ofSalisbury Plainsurrounded by theBritish Army, they hide in A Well Known Palace (Buckingham Palace) until they are almost captured by Foot.
While on a walk with the police, the group step into a small pub, where Clang is disguised as a barman. After being served beer, Ringo cannot pick his glass up from the table, so George tips it over, unknowingly opening atrapdoorto the cellar that Clang set up, into which Ringo drops. Inside the cellar is a door with a broken knob, a broken ladder and atiger. They go summon the Inspector who tells them to sing the Ode to Joy fromBeethovens 9th Symphonyto the tiger in order to tame it; everyone inside and outside the pub joins in.
The Beatles put out in the press that theyre going to theBahamasto throw the cult off their scent, but Ringo wants to go there anyway. The Beatles arrive, followed by Scotland Yard officers, Foot and Clang. After Ringo is nearly captured, the other Beatles pose as him in order to lure the cult members, who are then arrested by theBahamas Police. Despite their best efforts, Ringo is captured by Foot, who takes him on to a ship intending to cut off his finger to get the ring.
Ahme rescues Ringo from Foot by exchanging him for a vial of the distilled essence of certain orchids. The two try to escape the ship by jumping into the water; however, Ringo cannot swim. They are captured by the cult and tied down on the beach where they are surrounded by two battalions ofKukhri Rifles. Clang begins the ceremony to sacrifice Ringo, with cult members prepared to attack the rest of the Beatles and police when they come to the rescue.
Ringo and Ahme manage to untie themselves, and the ring slips off his finger as he tries to wave to his band mates to warn them away. He puts the ring on Clangs hand, and Ahme declares Clang as the next sacrifice. A final brawl ensues between the Beatles, the cult, and the police. Clang manages to get the ring off himself and gives it to Foot and Algernon. They, however, leave the ring in the sand in favour of the shrinking solution. The ring ends up on the greedy Bhutas finger and he becomes the target for sacrifice to the put-upon Clangs obvious glee; meanwhile, the Channel swimmer reappears on the beach and once again asks for directions to the White Cliffs of Dover. The movie ends with a dedication toElias Howe, who, in 1846, invented thesewing machine.
The credits feature the characters acting up in front of the camera, with the jewel of the ring being placed in front of the lens. The music playing during the credits is the Overture ofThe Barber of SevillebyGioachino Rossini, with The Beatles adding their own laughing and comments.
The Beatles said the film was inspired by the classicMarx BrothersfilmDuck Soup;4it was also directly satirical of theJames Bondseries of films.5At the time of the original release ofHelp!, its distributor,United Artists, also held the rights to the Bond series.
The humour of the film is strongly influenced by the abstract humour ofThe Goon Show, in which the director had personal and direct experience in the conversion of the radio format to television, and personal working experience withPeter Sellersin particular.6Beatles recording producerGeorge Martinhad also produced records for theGoon Showteam. McCartney has always said that the Beatles style of humour was taken from theGoon Show. Many of the films concepts are derived fromGoon Shows, such as the presence of wild animals, music,fourth wall-breaking jokes and abstractions such as the closing statement that concludes the film.
The original working title for the film wasEight Arms to Hold You. This title was printed on the single Ticket to Ride as an upcoming movie. Because of this, the phrase has been used as a title for an album byVeruca Saltand for songs byThe Gooniesand by The Brittles, a Beatles-pastiche band.
The Lennon-McCartney compositionEight Days a Weekwas briefly considered as a potential theme song for the film, but the idea was scrapped and the song was instead recorded and issued as an album track onBeatles For Sale, as well as a single in the United States.
According to interviews conducted withPaul McCartneyGeorge Harrison, and Ringo Starr forThe Beatles Anthology, director Richard Lester was given a larger budget for this film than he had forA Hard Days Night, thanks to the commercial success of the latter. Thus, this feature film was in colour and was shot on several exotic foreign locations. It was also given a more extensive musical score thanA Hard Days Night, provided by a full orchestra, and including pieces of well known classical music:WagnersLohengrin, Act III Overture,Tchaikovsky1812 OvertureBeethovenNinth Symphony(Ode to Joy), and, during the end credits and with their own comic vocal interpretation,RossiniBarber of Sevilleoverture. The original title for the film only changed toHelp!very near to its release wasEight Arms To Hold You.7
Help!was shot in London,Salisbury Plain, theNew Providence IslandandParadise Islandin the Bahamas andTwickenham Film Studios, beginning in the Bahamas on 23 February 1965. Starr commented inThe Beatles Anthologythat they were in the Bahamas for the hot weather scenes, and therefore had to wear light clothing even though it was rather cold. Tony Bramwell, the assistant to Beatles manager Brian Epstein, stated in his bookA Magical Mystery Tourthat Epstein chose the Bahamas for tax reasons. According toThe Beatles Anthology, during the restaurant sequence filmed in early April, George began to discoverIndian-style music, which would be a key element in future songs such asNorwegian Wood. Filming finished on 14 April at Ailsa Avenue inTwickenham.
The ski scenes were shot atObertauern, a small village in Austria. One reason this location was chosen was that the stars of the movie were less likely to be recognized there than at one of the larger resorts with many British tourists. The Beatles were in Obertauern for about two weeks in March 1965 along with a film crew of around 60 people. Locals served as ski stunt doubles for the Beatles who stayed at the hotel Edelweiss. Most of the crew were based in the hotel Marieta, where one night the Beatles gave an impromptu concert on the occasion of a directors assistants birthday. This was the only time they ever played on stage in Austria.8
The Beatles did not particularly enjoy the filming of the movie, nor were they pleased with the end product. In 1970,John Lennonsaid they felt like extras in their own movie.
The movie was out of our control. WithA Hard Days Night, we had a lot of input, and it was semi-realistic. But withHelp!, Dick Lester didnt tell us what it was all about.
Ten years later Lennon was more charitable:9
I realize, looking back, how advanced it was. It was a precursor to theBatmanPow! Wow! on TVthat kind of stuff. But [Lester] never explained it to us. Partly, maybe, because we hadnt spent a lot of time together betweenA Hard Days NightandHelp!, and partly because we were smoking marijuana for breakfast during that period. Nobody could communicate with us, it was all glazed eyes and giggling all the time. In our own world. Its like doing nothing most of the time, but still having to rise at 7am, so we became bored.
A contributing factor was exhaustion attributable to their busy schedule of writing, recording and touring. Afterward they were hesitant to begin another film project, and indeedHelp!was their last full-length scripted theatrical film. Their obligation for a third film to United Artists was met by the 1970 documentary filmLet It Be. The 1968 animated filmYellow Submarinedid not meet contractual obligations because it did not star the Beatles, and their only live appearance was featured for less than two minutes at the films conclusion.
The Beatles later said the film was shot in a haze of marijuana. According to Starrs interviews inThe Beatles Anthology, during the Austrian Alps film shooting, he and McCartney ran off over the hill from thecurlingscene set to smoke a joint.
A hell of a lot of pot was being smoked while we were making the film. It was great. That helped make it a lot of fun… In one of the scenes, Victor Spinetti and Roy Kinnear are playing curling: sliding along those big stones. One of the stones has a bomb in it and we find out that its going to blow up, and have to run away. Well, Paul and I ran about seven miles, we ran and ran, just so we could stop and have a joint before we came back. We could have run all the way to Switzerland. If you look at pictures of us you can see a lot of red-eyed shots; they were red from the dope we were smoking. And these were those clean-cut boys! Dick Lester knew that very little would get done after lunch. In the afternoon we very seldom got past the first line of the script. We had such hysterics that no one could do anything. Dick Lester would say, No, boys, could we do it again? It was just that we had a lot of fun a lot of fun in those days.
In theBeatles Anthology Directors Cut, Harrison admitted that they were smoking marijuana on the plane ride all the way to the Bahamas.
McCartney also shared some of his memories of when they were filmingHelp!:
We showed up a bit stoned, smiled a lot and hoped wed get through it. We giggled a lot. I remember one time at Cliveden (Lord Astors place, where theChristine Keeler/Profumo scandalwent on); we were filming theBuckingham Palacescene where we were all supposed to have our hands up. It was after lunch, which was fatal because someone might have brought out a glass of wine as well. We were all a bit merry and all had our backs to the camera and the giggles set in. All we had to do was turn around and look amazed, or something. But every time wed turn round to the camera there were tears streaming down our faces. Its OK to get the giggles anywhere else but in films, because the technicians get pissed off with you. They think, Theyre not very professional. Then you start thinking, This isnt very professional but were having a great laugh.
John did once offer me a joint. And I obligingly tried to take a little puff. I knew there was some special way of doing it but I dont smoke anyway. So I took a little puff and then thought, This is so expensive. I mustnt waste it! And gave it back to him. So thats your definition of naïve, I think.
The photographerMichael Petowas commissioned in 1965 to take still photographs during the making of the film; these became known for their candid and expressive quality. During the digitisation of the Michael Peto Collection, which is held by Archive Services,University of Dundee, in 2002, 500 previously unpublished photographs of the Beatles taken during the making ofHelp!were reported to have been uncovered.10111213Now These Days are Gone, a limited edition volume of Petos photographs focusing on the Beatles images was produced in 2006 with deluxe editions of the book signed byRichard Lester. An exhibition of the photographs to mark the books launch was held at Hoopers Gallery, Clerkenwell, in January 2006.1415Another exhibition of the photographs was held at theUniversity of Dundeein 2007 as part of the Universitys 40th anniversary celebrations, with the exhibition then moving to the National Conservation Centre,Liverpool.1617In 2011 the photographs were exhibited in Dundee, as part of the Scottish Beatles Weekend, and at the Proud Gallery,Camden.1819
The Night Beforeinterspersed with excerpts of Shes A Woman (also see below) with an explosion at the end not heard on the Beatles commercial recordings
Shes a Woman(heard in the background, on a tape machine, and underground in the Salisbury Plain scene)
A Hard Days Nighttitled on the US soundtrack album as Another Hard Days Night (played by Indian band and as an instrumental)
Im Happy Just to Dance with You(played by a band during the bike-riding scene)
You Cant Do That(played as an instrumental during the Austrian Alps sequence)
From Me To Youtitled on the US soundtrack album as From Me To You Fantasy (played as an instrumental during scenes of attempts to remove the ring from Ringos finger while he sleeps in the Beatles communal apartment)
The seven main songs formed the first side of the British release of theHelp!album. The second side consisted of other new Beatles songs recorded at the same time or shortly afterwards. The US album, released by Capitol Records, includes the 7 movie tracks along with instrumental soundtrack songs orchestrated by Ken Thorne. In addition, the US soundtrack leads off with a hidden track stylized as a satirical James Bond Theme before the title track, Help!. Early pressings of the US version of the album1962-1966include this hidden track banded as Help!, and later pressings, when the UK catalogue was made the official and only catalogue of Beatles albums, omit it.
Critical opinion at the time of release was generally positive, but many critics feel that this big budget effort was not as strong asA Hard Days Night.Leslie Halliwelldescribes it as an
[e]xhausting attempt to outdoA Hard Days Nightin lunatic frenzy, which goes to show that some talents work best on low budgets. The humour is a frantic cross betweenHellzapoppin,The GoonsGoofyMr. Magooand the shade ofMonty Pythonto come. It looks good but becomes too tiresome to entertain.20
Allmovies Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr. describes it as
…a forerunner to music videos….Lesterseemed to find the right tone forHelp!, creating an enjoyable portrait of the Beatles and never allowing the film to take itself too seriously. His style would later be co-opted byBob Rafaelsonsic forthe Monkeestelevision series in the 60s and has continued to influence rock musicals likeSpice Worldin 1998.21
In a contemporary review inThe New York Timestheir criticBosley Crowtherwas not impressed:
…Its a fiasco of farcical whimseys that are thrown together in this filma clutter of mechancial gimmicks and madcap chases…. Funny? Exciting? Different? Well, theres nothing in Help! to compare with that wild ballet of the Beatles racing across a playground in A Hard Days Night, nothing as wistful as the ramble of Ringo around London all alone…. The boys themselves are exuberant and uninhibited in their own genial way. They just become awfully redundant anddare I say it?dull.22
AnovelisationentitledThe Beatles in Help!was written by Al Hine and published byDellin 1965.
A sequence featuringFrankie HowerdandWendy Richardwas filmed but left out of final editing owing to its length. However, the sequence was left in the film novelisation.
LikeA Hard Days Night,Help!was originally distributed theatrically byUnited Artists the company handled distribution from 1965 to the end of 1980. In January 1981, rights to the movie reverted from UA to producer Walter Shenson, and the movie was withdrawn from circulation.
Help!was released several times in different video formats by MPI Home Video andThe Criterion Collection. A version was released in February 1987 in VHS and Beta through MPI, along with a reissue ofA Hard Days Nightthe very same day, and was followed by a special-edition release on 31 October 1995. MPI also issued a CLV laserdisc in 1995 and two releases on DVD, the first as a single DVD release on 12 November 1997 and the second as part ofThe Beatles DVD Collectors Seton 8 August 2000.
LaserDisc releases include a Criterion CAV laserdisc and a Voyager CLV laserdisc in 1987, each of which had three pressings. The first pressings had noUPCon the gatefold covers while the other two had the UPC either as a sticker or printed directly on the jacket.
The films transfer on the CAV laserdiscs was done correctly so that no blending of frames occurs and thus movements are not blurry. The supplemental section, which, with few exceptions, has never been available on any other home video release, contains the following:
original theatrical trailer (which includes deleted scenes)
silent home movie footage of the film set and of the world premiere
still photos, some of which are introduced by text describing the production history of the film
radio ads (on audio during the silent footage)
an open interview, originally designed for disc jockeys. By reading prompts on the screen, one can pretend to talk to the Beatles.
In June 2007, a version ofHelp!, sub-titled in Korean, became available on . However, by July 2007, all home video versions of the film were pulled from the market because of rights issues involving Apple Corps now the full rights holders to the film. The rights issues were eventually resolved and Apple Corps/EMI/Capitol released a new double DVD version with a fully restored image and newly remixed in 2.0 stereo andsound of the film. This came in standard 2xDVD packaging and 2xDVD deluxe edition box set on 30 October 2007 in the UK and 6 November 2007 in America.23This latest release contains new featurettes, three trailers (one of which is in Spanish), and the aforementioned radio ads carried over from the Criterion LaserDisc issue. The film was released on Blu-ray format in June 2013 byUniversal Music, now the owners of EMI/Capitol Records, using the 2007 restoration.24
^shipments figures based on certification alone
viaInternet Archive. Retrieved June 17, 2018.
. Simon and Schuster. p.1377.ISBN
Reading the Beatles: Cultural Studies, Literary Criticism, and the Fab Four
John Lennon Imagined: Cultural History of a Rock Star
Unseen photos of The Beatles uncovered. University of Dundee
Michael Peto Photographic Collection. University of Dundee. Archived fromthe originalon 3 September 2011
Help!. Archives, Records and Artefacts at the University of Dundee
Michael Peto Photograph Collection Book/Exhibition Launch. University of Dundee. Archived fromthe originalon 14 June 2011
The Michael Peto Collection and the University of DundeeUniversity of Dundee. Archived fromthe originalon 21 March 2012
Now These Days Are Gone: The Beatles Photographs of Michael Peto, 18 August 2007 to 2 March 2008, National Conservation Centre, National Museums Liverpool, 31 Jul 2007, accessed 5 Sep 2010
Wilson, Alan (18 July 2011).Rare chance to see Peto Collection photos during Scottish Beatles Weekend.
The Beatles: Revolutionary 1965 By Michael Peto. Proud Galleries. Archived fromthe originalon 26 September 2011
. London:Harper Collins. p.338.ISBN
Help!. Archived fromthe originalon 26 April 2006
Crowther, Bosley (24 August 1965).Singers romp through comic adventures.
Stop worrying… Help! is on the way. EMI Group Limited. 4 September 2007. Archived fromthe originalon 11 October 2007
Brandle, Lars (16 May 2013).Beatles Help! Comes to Blu-Ray.
ARIA Charts Accreditations 2007 DVDsAustralian Recording Industry Association
Canadian video certifications The Beatles HelpMusic Canada
American video certifications Beatles, The Help!Recording Industry Association of America
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
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Certification Table Entry usages for Australia
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This page was last edited on 12 May 2019, at 19:23