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Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Help! turns fifty

29. July, 1965: Help! premieres at the London Pavilion. 
50 years ago, the Beatles' second motion picture "Help!" premiered at the London Pavilion, Piccadilly Circus, London, with The Beatles in attendance. Princess Margaret was there, too, making it a "Royal" world premiere, as the ticket says.

The Premiere
Crowds began to gather at 8:00 a.m., and by evening ten thousand fans were gathered outside to see Paul, George and Ringo arrive in a black Rolls-Royce; John’s Rolls-Royce delayed twenty minutes because of the crowd surge. Inside the Pavilion the band met Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon, who had held off their summer holiday for the event. After the screening, The Beatles appeared at the supper party at the Orchid Room of the Dorchester Hotel attended by most of the film’s principals, including director Richard Lester, and co-stars Eleanor Bron, Victor Spinetti, Leo McKern, and Roy Kinnear. The movie was a box-office success with overall good reviews. The BBC television show Top Of The Pops also showed a clip from the film on this evening.

"Help!" actor Victor Spinetti revealed in his book that the late Princess Margaret (born 1930) was no stranger to one night stands in London hotel rooms. She was to divorce her husband in the late seventies.
Anniversary screening
For the anniversary, the South Pasadena Library in California will host a free screening of the film tomorrow, on July 30. The film is rarely being screened publically any more, but the South Pasadena Library arranged this event with special permission from the Beatles company, Apple Corps Ltd. The commercial Blu-ray will be used as source for the screening. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. No tickets or reservations are required.

On Home Video
"Help!" was released several times in different video formats by MPI Home Video and The Criterion Collection in the USA, VCI in the UK and numerous companies elsewhere in the world. On VHS, a version was released in USA during February 1987 through MPI, 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 of The Beatles DVD Collector's Set on 8 August 2000. The DVD releases were only for the USA market, and DVDs of the film were unavailable elsewhere in the world, including the UK.

At the film premiere, same suits and bow ties, it seems, as for the premiere of their first film.
LaserDisc releases include a Criterion CAV laserdisc and a Voyager CLV laserdisc in 1987, each of which had three pressings. The first pressings had no UPC on the gatefold covers while the other two had the UPC either as a sticker or printed directly on the jacket.

In 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. Apple Corps/EMI/Capitol released a new double DVD version with a fully restored film negative and newly remixed in 2.0 stereo and 5.1 surround sound 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. This release contained new featurettes, three trailers (one of which is in Spanish), and a few radio ads carried over from the Criterion LaserDisc issue. The film was released on Blu-ray format in June 2013 by Universal Music, using the 2007 restoration, this was the first Beatles release after The Beatles had left EMI for Universal Music.

Home movies
Sadly, no outtakes from the film exists. When director Richard Lester visited Twickenham Film Studios around 1970 to retrieve the cutting room floor footage from his films, he learned that all outtakes from both "A Hard Day's Night" and "Help!" had been destroyed only months earlier. However, there are some home movies which were made by members of the film crew and others during the shooting of the film.

1988 VHS release "The Making of Help!"
Four 8mm film silent reels of home movies from the shooting of "Help!" were purchased in an auction and released by a very anonymous company in 1988 as an 18 minute VHS film, housed in a film can. The same material was released on DVD in 2006.

2006 DVD release "The Making of Help!"
A 15:34 version of this film (speed variation may be the cause of the length discrepancy) exists on YouTube.

In April 2015, author of the new "Help!" book, "Eight Arms To Hold You" (one of the film's working titles) Simon Wells published on YouTube this home movie footage of a solo John scene on bike in the swimming pool in Bahamas:

Fact for nerds
Throughout "Help!", Ringo is seen playing his drum kit adorned with the "drop T" Beatles logo. In nearly all the scenes, the bass drum head logo is variation no. 4 (there were seven different variations of the bass drum logo throughout the sixties), which was used from May 31, 1964, straight through to August 1, 1965. The exception is the scene where they are recording "You're Going To Lose That Girl", where "drop-T" drum head no. 3 – The "A Hard Days Night" head is employed.

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