Magical Mystery Tour

1967, Movie, NR, 55 mins


Directed and produced by Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, (significantly, no-one takes a writing credit) and originally aired on the BBC, this loosely structured phantasmagoria was reportedly inspired by the antics of Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters. It follows the Beatles as they rent a bus and take a trip — in both senses of the word, though there's no onscreen drug use — around the English countryside, have a variety of madcap adventures, sing (including "I Am the Walrus," "Fool on the Hill," "Blue Jay Way," "Flying," "Penny Lane" and "Your Mother Should Know") and end up at a ghastly spaghetti dinner. This quintessential 1960s artifact has the amateurish feel of a home movie made by a bunch of overgrown kids with as many goofy ideas as good ones and the money to indulge their every whim, which is pretty much what it is. But the "kids" are the Beatles, and the film contains genuinely interesting moments, including the "I Am the Walrus" section, which can be lifted out of the film and played as a stand-alone music video. The film's sense of humor is very English, and occasionally prefigures the antics of the Monty Python troupe; Harrison later produced several Python-related feature films. A must-see for Beatles buffs and anyone interested in how the '60s looked as they were happening (rather than in slick, retrospective recreations); others might want to take a pass. leave a comment

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