|The upcoming issue (#215) of "Beatlefan" celebrates fifty years of Help!|
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Speaking of "Help!", remember what we posted a few days ago about the shooting of the cover? As you know, the order in which the Beatles are standing from left to right is different in the USA and the UK. Also, there is the matter of whether or not some or all of the images have been presented mirror-flipped.
|UK positions: George, John, Paul, Ringo.|
|USA: Apart from being in black and white, only George keeps his position, but is mirror-flipped.|
On the US cover, the image actually kind of spells out HELP. Not in semaphore, but with their names. Positioned in this order there is H for Harrison, L for Lennon and P for Paul. The odd one out is Ringo, which makes them spell out HRLP or HSLP, using his first or last name.
|USA movie poster: Same as on the US album.|
WogBlog reader Stephen McGowan wrote to us about these issues, and presented us with the puzzle, which he also seemed to solve during our mail exchange.
The simplest answer (which often is the correct one, mind you), is perhaps that Capitol Records, who released the album in the US, did not have the colour photo negatives (or positives, for that matter), of those four individual shots of The Beatles which were going to be used on the British "Help!" album cover. What they did have were images from the film itself, and they presented those in a colourful gatefold cover. As for the four individual shots, which they used for the album sleeve and United Artists reused for their movie poster, they probably just had black and white negatives of those.
Adding to the confusion, there's also a book of sheet music from Northern Songs.
|UK edition of the "Souvenir film and song album" book.|
|George, as on the UK sleeve|
|John, as on the UK sleeve|
|Ringo, as on the UK sleeve|
|Paul, mirror-flipped compared to the UK sleeve|
|The "Help!" figures outside the theatre.|
Another photo, taken inside the London Pavilion of Ringo, his wife Maureen and Paul reveals a bit of a "Help!" poster behind them.
|Note that Paul's image on the poster is like in the songbook, not like the sleeves and the facade of the theatre.|
|Newspaper ad before the Royal World Premiere.|
Then it's the finished UK movie poster. Made by United Artists, it's probably not that surprising that they used the same order as they had done for the US poster - and once again presents the four figures in black and white.
|UK film poster|
The sum of all these discrepancies is evidence that the positioning of these four Beatles figures, and their appearance on the upcoming album sleeves had not yet been decided upon.
So who was flipped and who was not? During the photo shoot for the album cover, scenes for the film were still being, as it were, filmed. Still needed on the set in different clothes, the Beatles just changed to their Obertauern costumes for the "Help!" album cover.
Here is a shot of The Beatles in their costumes, from Obertauern:
|Wearing the same costumes in Obertauern, earlier in the filming.|
|George, as per the US album sleeve, only in colour.|
If the film stills featuring Ringo are correct, which we know they are (we've all seen it enough times) then the large one on Pavillion is correct and all others are flipped, including both the UK and US sleeves.
|Still from the film, ring on right hand.|
In the Help! cover photo, the ring is not on his right hand, but on left. Perhaps it was added afterwards, you might ask? Not according to this photo, taken during the photo shoot:
|Ringo at the photo shoot: ring on his right hand.|
|Flipped the correct way, blue colour removed.|
If Paul is flipped, then he would be wearing a watch on the wrong hand for a leftie. Though his fringe is most unPaul like, compared to this picture with Victor Spinetti, taken on the same occasion.
|Spinetti, in costume, seems to be omnipresent on this occasion.|
Colour photos of Paul taken in Obertauern wearing the same costume reveal that it's really black, and has been coloured blue only for the UK "Help!" cover.
|Photographic evidence of the true colours of The Beatles' costumes.|
So, taking the wristwatch issue into consideration, Paul is probably correct on the album sleeves, but was flipped in the song book.
|Paul, what we assume is the correct way, blue colour removed.|
Was John's image reversed? Once again we turn to a photo with Victor Spinetti on the occasion of the cover shoot at Cliveden House.
|John in cover shoot costume, Spinetti once again in a costume appropriate for the day's "Help!" scenes.|
|John, flipped back and blue removed.|
Since the pictures were individually taken, and furthermore not actually correct for the semaphore of spelling out H E L P, then a correct order is irrelevant - there is no correct order. However, eager as we are to please, here's a rendition of the UK "Help!" album front cover, with no Beatle reversed.
|The UK "Help!" album front cover, after restorations.|
A twenty year old discussion on this same theme can be found here, it eventually comes to the same conclusions.