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Friday, 14 February 2014

A Hard Day's Night comparison

MPI laser disc, 1984
Celebrating the good news about an upcoming restored edition of "A Hard Day's Night", we take a look at the bonus material on the previous two DVD releases of the film, as well as bring you some good news regarding the aspect ratio and audio options available on the upcoming release.

Miramax version (2002)
The film was shown in aspect ratio Widescreen letterboxed - 1.66:1

Bonus material:
  • "Things They Said Today ..." (36:18)
  • "Their Production Will Be Second To None" -- Interviews With The Filmmakers (Director Richard Lester, Musical Director Sir George Martin, Associate Producer Denis O'Dell, Studio Executive David Picker)
  • "With The Beatles" -- Cast (John Junkin, Lionel Blair, Kenneth Haigh, David Janson, Anna Quayle, Jeremy Lloyd, Terry Hooper)
  • "Working Like A Dog" -- The Production Crew (Gilbert Taylor BSC, Paul Wilson, Betty Glasow, Barrie Melrose)
  • "Busy Working Overtime" -- Post Production Crew (Pam Tomling & Roy Benson, Gordon Daniels & Jim Roddan)
  • "Listen To The Music Playing In Your Head" -- Sir George Martin On The HDN Songs
  • "Such A Clean Old Man!" -- Memories of Wilfrid Brambell
  • "I've Lost My Little Girl" -- Isla Blair Interview
  • "Taking Testimonial Pictures" -- Robert Freeman Interview
  • "Dressed To The Hilt" -- Gordon Millings Interview
  • "Dealing With 'The Men From The Press'" -- Tony Barrow Interview
  • "They And I Have Memories" -- Klaus Voorman Interview
  • "Hitting The Big Time In The USA" -- Sid Bernstein Interview

MPI version (1997)
The film was shown in aspect ratio Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Bonus material:
  • 1982 photo montage prologue set to I'll Cry Instead 2 min.
  • British newsreel Beatlemania grips Gotham 1 min.
  • British newsreel Beatles get show biz top award 3:45 min.
  • 1981 Re-release trailer 2:22 min.
  • MPI's trailer for The First US Visit 1:45 min.
  • MPI's trailer for You Can't Do That! 1:45 min.
  • MPI's trailer for Help! 2:37 min.
  • MPI's trailer for Magical Mystery Tour 1:32 min.
  • 9 text screens on the restoration process
  • 6 text bios on the filmmakers & Support cast
  • 60's Interview with director Richard Lester 3:22 min.
  • Lester's short film Running, Jumping & Standing Still
The Criterion laser disc,1987 - front

Criterion (USA)/Second Sight Films (UK) version (2014)
The film will reportedly be shown in aspect ratio 1.75:1
This is the actual original theatrical aspect ratio from the film's release in 1964, so that's a first!

We are only guessing that Criterion will handle the U.S. market and Second Sight Films the U.K. one. Originally, Criterion was reported as the distributor and their parent company Janus Film is cited by the TCM Classic Films Festival to be the company behind the restoration of the film from the original negative. However, the independent British distributors Second Sight Films recently announced that they were  working on a Blu-ray release of the film. With two distributors in the mix, we just have to guess.

The music has been remixed in true 5.1-surround by Giles Martin. Another selectable audio option will be Ron Furmanek's restored original mono soundtrack. Furmanek prepared this audio for the Miramax DVD, but his work was tampered with, turning it into faux-5.1-surround. This decision was heavily criticised by fans at the time of release. The problem was that the company who owned the rights to the film did not own a stereo version of the soundtrack, just the original mono sound. So this time, some sort of agreement must have been made between that company and the Beatles/Apple Corps Ltd/Universal Music Group. Or, the Beatles/Apple Corps Ltd may have bought back the rights to the film. Or, speculating further, the company who owns the film may be a part of the Universal group of companies. Either way, the fans will benefit.

The rights to "A Hard Day's Night" originally belonged to the film's producer, Walter Shenson. The current owners are Miramax Films and The Weinstein Company. In 2011 Disney sold Miramax films to Filmyard Holdings, LLC, and the home video sub-license is transferred to Lionsgate. However, Miramax's film library is still owned by Disney. In December 2013, Miramax and The Weinstein Company entered a 20-year joint-venture agreement to develop and produce films, TV series, and stage shows. The deal will allow the Weinsteins to exploit the 700-film Miramax library. Whether or not this has anything to do with the re-release of "A Hard Day's Night", we don't know.

Bonus material:
No one knows, and probably won't, until the film is out in the shops. But there's no way they are going to include everything that was on the Miramax release, so you'll probably want to keep that. Miramax did a good job on the bonus material.

Criterion has released A Hard Day's Night previously. That was before the DVD age, they released it on laser disc back in 1987. Bonus material then was the original theatrical trailer, an interview with Richard Lester, and his The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film.

Back in the day, the BBC produced a documentary on the making of A Hard Day's Night. No, we're not talking about the 1995 "You Can't Do That! The Making of 'A Hard Day's Night'" documentary hosted by Phil Collins, but a 1964 documentary, "Follow the Beatles". It was broadcasted by the BBC on August 3rd, 1964 and has rarely been seen since. The documentary was mostly filmed and recorded on the set of "A Hard Day's Night". Now that would make a fine accompaniment alongside other bonus material, such as the original trailers.

Criterion laser disc, 1987 - back

Incidentally, if you are keen to see "A Hard Day's Night" on the 6th of July for it's 50th anniversary. alongside Pattie Boyd, you can. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the London premiere of A Hard Day’s Night, the Catalina Island Museum will have a screening of the film in the Avalon Casino Theater. Pattie Boyd has agreed to a live interview just after the film, in which she will discuss her memories of the Beatles, meeting her future husband on the set, and much, much more. Audience members will have the opportunity to ask Pattie Boyd questions during the interview. Tickets are $8 for members of the museum and $10 for the general public.


Jaedee said...

Excellent work as always. Now lets hope an official announcement comes soon.

maikel ariel said...

I guess not only the music will be in 5.1 format, also the entire audio of the film, even if they only have a mono or stereo audio of the film