Director: Richard Lester
Stars: The Beatles
It’s hardly a controversial view, but I’m a massive Beatles fan. It’s a waste of time going on about their merits as a musical quartet here, because I can’t say anything that hasn’t been said before (and this is supposed to be a post about a film). When I was presented with the challenge of deciding on a film to watch from 1965 I was a little stuck at first because I don’t have very much spare time these days and having ruled out the Sound of Music most of the rest of my options were a little too long and/or serious. So I delved a little deeper and realised that I had the perfect opportunity to take a look at one of the movies starring one of my favourite musical groups, none of which I’d ever seen before. Help!, a farcical comedy, is the second of five feature films associated with the Fab Four.
I won’t spend too much time on the plot as it’s not really all that important, but I’ll give you an idea of what goes on. Ringo is destined to be put to death by a mysterious Eastern cult unless he can remove the sacrificial ring from his finger, which is easier said than done. The Beatles try a succession of techniques to try and save their drummer, from jeweller’s saw to mad scientist’s lab to mystical injection. All the while the cult is trying desperately to retrieve the ring, with or without Ringo attached. The band flee all over the world in a series of high-jinks, running away from not only the cult but also the aforementioned mad scientist and the Metropolitan Police. Every now and again they randomly chuck in one of their songs from the album of the same name, which can only be a good thing.
It’s a fun enough film, given what it is. I appreciate that the Beatles didn’t try to make a serious film and are perfectly aware that none of them can act; it would have been pretty rough had they tried to make a real movie. I was a little disappointed, although not at all surprised, at the minor role George plays in the film. Of course his humility and modesty is one of the main reasons I like him so much and naturally he wasn’t going to want a major part of something like this. Still, he plays along (and even looks like he’s having fun in the musical scenes) and I respect him for that. It’s also somewhat made up for by the extra dose of Ringo in the central role. He’s a funny guy, and it’s good to see him embracing that because he comes across a bit silly when he tries to play the straight guy.
Overall I’d recommend giving this one a watch. It has little merit cinematically but that’s not the point of the film. Help! is four incredibly famous guys singing some songs, having a laugh and trying to help the world laugh along with them – and what’s wrong with that?
My Rating: 7/10