Oh, Help!. There are just some days when I just feel like I need some Help!. Wait, I take that back. I don’t need “some” Help!; I need A LOT of Help!. In fact, I need all the Help! I can get.
I’m talking about The Beatles’ second feature film, by the way.
A Hard Day’s Night is my favorite Beatles film and one of my favorite films, period. It’s perfect. It is superior to Help! in many ways, but Help! is special. In order to watch Help!, you have to suspend reality and allow yourself to enter this fantastical, absurd world where the Beatles reside, a world where Ringo (who else?) is in possession of a sacrificial ring that he cannot remove, and, as a result, various groups of people chase the Beatles for possession of the ring for sacrificial reasons and power. Whereas A Hard Day’s Night was a semi-realistic fictional representation of a day in the life of The Beatles, Help! has maybe one fraction of a fingernail based in reality. But that’s part of what makes it so much fun.
John Lennon recalled the experience of filming Help! in 1980: “The movie was out of our control. With A Hard Day’s Night, we had a lot of input, and it was semi-realistic. But with Help!, Dick Lester didn’t tell us what it was about. I realize, looking back, how advanced it was. It was a precursor for the Batman ‘Pow! Wow!’ on TV–that kind of stuff. But he never explained it to us. Partly, maybe, because we hadn’t spent a lot of time together between A Hard Day’s Night and Help!, 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.”
I think that sums up the movie pretty well. (By the way, I used the whole “The Beatles used to smoke marijuana for breakfast” as a conversation piece as an eight-year-old. Totally normal.) The Beatles certainly are in their own world, and through watching this film, they allow you into that crazy world for about ninety minutes or so. Result: delirium.
I’ve watched this film a lot. I think I know the script by heart. I love so many things about this film that it might actually take me 250 posts to share all of those things with you. But for now, here’s part one of all the little things I love about Help!–subtitles taken out of context, facial expressions, plot points…everything. Brace yourselves.
But before we get to all those wonderful things, I’d like to point out this moment in the film and its effect on my young life. As a child, I shared my obsession with the Beatles with many, many people, but the most tolerant recipient of my nonstop enthusiasm for this band was my younger sister, Molly. So she watched Help! almost as many times as me. Now, Ringo was (and still is) Molly’s least favorite Beatle. (I’ve been trying to get her to agree to medical attention for years!) And I had many, many Beatles posters, but I had one particular poster that was my favorite–partly because I loved the photograph so much, partly because it was my first Beatles poster. And one day, I discovered that SOMEONE had inserted a tack into Ringo’s pupil. Yeah, I wonder who that was. And I wonder where they got their inspiration.
Point of this story: Be careful whom you allow to watch Help! with you, people. I mean, you do something REALLY nice for someone else by letting them watch this WONDERFUL, FUNNY film MULTIPLE times, and they end up using it against you. Wow. I repeat: BE. CAREFUL.
Now, onto nicer, pleasanter things!
I love how many copies John has of his own second book, A Spaniard in the Works.
I love how Paul has an organ that rises out of the floor and how, in place of sheet music, it is filled with comic books.
Yeah, Ringo. (Note: all the copies of his book!)
I love how John calls the others to wake them up via his alarm clock.
Old people in purple turbans. Can’t even pronounce Beatle correctly. Geesh.
Paul’s disappointment at not being the “Bea-atle” whom they seek. Poor Paul.
This is my standard response to unsavory invitations, too. “Hey, wanna go see the new Twilight movie?” “No thanks, I’m rhythm guitar and mouth organ.”
Nah…but your face did!
That’s what first attracted all of us to you, Ringo. That and that humongous…ring on your finger.
This is how the others laugh at Ringo. Ho!
John then says, “I like a lot of seasoning in me soup.” I think part of why I like this part so much is because before I owned a copy of Help!, I had a VHS tape of a televised airing. And during so many viewings, about three seconds of the film right around here got taped over because I pushed RECORD instead of PLAY on the VHS player. I cried myself to sleep for years over this. Then Help! was released on DVD, and I cried tears of happiness.
I love George trying to wink.
I love George sneakily shoplifting at the Jeweler’s.
But I love John’s not-so-secretive attempts at shoplifting even more.
Oh, no! The wheel! (Which breaks.)
Ringo is so profound. How does one choose Ringo as “least favorite”? I do not understand.
I repeat: How does one choose Ringo as “least favorite”?
An accurate description of my life.
I see where Bob Dylan got his inspiration.
Yeah, my sister may have said she didn’t like Ringo, but I’m pretty sure she crapped her pants during this scene every time.
Paul’s reaction to Ringo’s pants falling down, ha ha ha.
That’s all for now. There’s so much more to come. Stay tuned for part two!