Biopic of 'The Fab Four'. Never released on VHS or DVD. Produced by Dick Clark's company (Dick Clark Productions) and directed by Richard Marquand. The film was released into cinemas worldwide except in parts of the United States, where it was shown as a TV movie. The film focuses on the early history of The Beatles. It was released only nine years after the announced break-up of The Beatles themselves and is the only Beatles biopic to be made while John Lennon was still alive. I saw it in a movie theatre in Norway back in the day. The soundtrack is by "Rain". The guitar and vocal parts for John Lennon were performed by Eddie Lineberry, Paul McCartney by Chuck Coffey, George Harrison by Bill Connearney and Ringo Starr by Steve Wight.
Pete Best served as a technical advisor for the production, thus, the film tends to reflect his personal account of certain events, and shows some evidence of bias. The movie implies that Best was terminated from the band because of resentment toward Best's popularity in Liverpool at the time. In one scene the band are referred to by John Lennon as "Peter Best and his sods" and makes no mention of dissatisfaction with his playing, which has been thoroughly documented, even during the band's early years. George Martin has repeatedly stated that he was not satisfied with the calibre of Best's drumming at the band's EMI audition, and wanted the drum parts played by a studio drummer for future recordings. Ringo Starr, already a longtime friend of the band, proved a better personal and musical match. (Incidentally, Martin also prohibited Starr from playing drums on an early recording session for 'Love Me Do' replacing him with session player Andy White.).
However, it must be noticed that there are several accounts that confirm this version of the events, since it has been well documented that Best's popularity with fans was indeed a source of friction, as many female fans considered Best to be the band's best-looking member, and there was one particular event where, after a gig, Best was surrounded at the stage door afterwards by attentive females while the other members were ignored after signing a few autographs.
McCartney's father, Jim McCartney, was present at the time and admonished Best by saying: "Why did you have to attract all the attention? Why didn't you call the other lads back? I think that was very selfish of you".
The movie received modest ratings when it premiered on American television, and was repeated in January 1981, as a tribute to John Lennon in the weeks after his murder. It later repeated on CBS, on The CBS Late Movie during the 1980s. The version we have linked to here, is the full European cut of the film. It differs from the televised USA-version as follows:
- Some of the dialogue and text in this version is different.
- The opening narration is now done by a British narrator, with the opening text superimposed on a black screen as opposed to a blue screen.
- The prologue, which includes John saying that he wants to see Mickey Mouse is omitted.
- The opening theme song is "My Bonnie" instead of "She Loves You".
- A scene in an art school with a naked woman is included.
- The scenes where The Beatles perform at the Kaiserkeller are longer. They also include two additional song scenes: "Kansas City" and "Shake, Rattle and Roll" (the former has them trip on the stage floor, while the latter has them break it).
- The scene where they find Stuart badly beaten has extra dialogue. It also fleshes out Stuart's refusal to see a doctor even more, unlike the regular versions where it abruptly cuts right after John says "Let's get him to a hospital", making the viewer think that Stuart went to a hospital after he got badly beaten, when it is clear that he did not.
- The scene where Stuart and Astrid have their moment in bed together is different. The other version has him showing her her new necklace, while this version, has the two of them making love to each other.
- John's bedroom scene with Stuart has extra shots of the others in bed.
- The scene where they first talk to Brian Epstein is a little bit longer.
- The scene where Brian goes to find The Beatles performing "Love me Do" at a venue is longer.
- The scene where Brian goes to tell the Beatles about George Martin and EMI, has him getting out of a taxi.
- In the scene where Cynthia tells John about expecting a baby, John asks her "What are we gonna call him?"
- The scene where the Beatles arrive at New York City is longer.
- The end credits feature "She Loves You", instead of "My Bonnie".