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Promotional Films

Promotional Films

The best of the Beatles promotional films, in chronological order, include:

"Rain" (Lennon-McCartney)

The fabs wander through the verdant gardens of Chiswick House looking somber. An occasional child darts through the film, lightening the mood. Shot on May 20, 1966. Directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg. Debuted on Top of The Pops on June 9, 1966. Color.

"Penny Lane" (Lennon-McCartney)

The Beatles take a horseback ride through Liverpool. They find a banquet table in the middle of a field and trash it. Filmed on January 30-31, 1967. Directed by Peter Goldmann. Debuted on Top of the Pops on February 9, 1967. Color.

"Strawberry Fields Forever" (Lennon-McCartney)

A psychedelic extravaganza. The Fabs move through an odd landscape of colour-reversed and -filtered scenery, often in slow motion or backward. Eventually, they overturn a piano whose strings are attached to a tall tree. Shot on February 5-7, 1967. Directed by Peter Goldmann. Debuted on Top of the Pops on February 9, 1967. Color.

"A Day in the Life" (Lennon-McCartney)

A powerful film for a powerful song: An incoherent sequence of sped-up, slowed down, unfoused, and double-exposed images intercut at lightning speed. The footage, shot by Ringo with a hand-held camera, actually depicts the recording session fo the song itself; a woman dressed in a flowing gown waves sparklers amidst an orchestra conducted by Paul and George Martin. As a demented touch, the musicians are wearing funny noses and masks. But the humour is allowed to shine through when a shot of Big ben pops up at the sound of the alarm clock during Paul's segment of the song. Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithful, Keith Richards, Mike Nesmith, Pattie Boyd Harrison, and Donovan appear. Filmed at Abbey Road on February 10, 1967. Directed by Tony Bramwell. The film, reportedly part of a Sgt. Pepper documentary, was never broadcast in the U.K. due to a BBC ban on the song, which was thought to contain drug references. Color.

"Hello, Goodbye" (Lennon-McCartney)

In the three edits of this film, the Beatles perform and horse around on a theater stage attired in their brightly coloured Sgt. Pepper suits, weekend hippie garb, and the famous collarless Pierre Cardin suits circa 1964. In one version, Paul and John do the Charleston while George looks decidedly unconvinced that the whole thing is a good idea. During the finale, hula girls in grass skirts enter to flaunt their assets as the curtain falls. Shot at the Saville Theatre (then owned by Brian Epstein) on November 10, 1967. Directed by Paul McCartney. One of the three "Hello, Goodbye" films was debuted in the U.S. on The Ed Sullivan Show, November 26, 1967; the others may never have been broadcast. The Musicians Union ban on miming killed the films in Britian. Color

"Lady Madonna" (Lennon-McCartney)

The boys work in the studio. Paul is at the piano, John is behind the microphone, George rocks away with his guitar, and Ringo pounds out the beat. They're actually recording "Hey Bulldog," which was composed specifically for the shooting of this film so that the Beatles could make good use of the time they spent at the studio. Shot at Abbey Road on February 11, 1968. Directed by Tony Bramwell. Debuted on Top of the Pops on March 14, 1968. Color.

"Hey Jude" (Lennon-McCartney)

Adding new vocals as they go, the Beatles play along with the official studio recording. A diverse group of extras filters onto the stage as they build toward the climax, joining in the chorus. The camera then zooms out to reveal a full orchestra behind the Fabs. As the song winds to a close, the Beatles are surrounded by a multicultural surging crowd of singing, clapping teenagers. Shot at Twickenham Film Studios, London, on September 4, 1968. Directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg. Debuted along with an exclusive inductory clip (during which the Fabs preform a lounge-style rendition of David Frost's theme "It's Now or Never," incendentlly a George Martin composition) on Frost on Sunday on September 8, 1968. Color.

"Revolution" (Lennon-McCartney)

A straight-ahead simulated performance in which the Beatles sing along with the hard-rocking official single version, adding doo-wop background vocals in the manner of the slow album version. Shot at Twickenham Film Studios, London, on September 4, 1968. Directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg. Debuted on Top of the Pops on September 19, 1968. Color.

"The Ballad of John and Yoko" (Lennon-McCartney)

Documentary footage of events surrounding John and Yoko's weeding is interrupted periodiacally by a full-screen exclamation point when John sings "Christ!" Some footage was shoot during the pair's first Bed-In at the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel, March 25-31, 1968. Director unknown. Debuted on Top of the Pops on June 5, 1969. Black and White.

"Something" (Harrison)

George's exquisite tune, serves as a hook on which shots of the four Beatles with the wives are hung. For the most part, John and Yoko, Paul and Linda, George and Patti, and Ringo and Mo simply walk through fields or stare into each other's eyes. There are a few moments of action: Ringo and Mo hop on a pair of motorscooters, and Paul and Linda frolic with their sheepdog, Martha. For the most part of the film is pure sentimentality, but oddly enough, the result is touching. Compiled by Neil Aspinall. Debuted on Top of the Pops on November 13, 1969. Color.

"Don't Let Me Down" (Lennon-McCartney)

Leftover footage from Let It Be is put to excellent use in this film, which juxtaposes scenes, from Twickenham Studios and the Apple rooftop performance. The result would be right at home on MTV today. Filmed, in part, at Apple on January 30, 1969. Directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg. Debuted on the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour on April 30, 1969.