In an interview, Shenson commented, “Now I’ve got The Beatles, do I need stars? Are they necessary, even playing bit parts? My guess is, no. It would be all wrong to have, say, Kenny More or Dirk Bogarde appearing with the boys, though maybe not Margaret Rutherford. I have a hunch the fans would love her. But say, just say, It was Hayley Mills - will they feel resentment of her?”.
A teenage daughter of a friend said to him, “Oh Mr Shenson, I’m just praying there’ll be no love interest in your Beatles film!”. He took the girls advice and decided not to include any romances for The Beatles. He also eschewed big name stars, giving the largest non-Beatles role to Wilfred Brambell, known for his leading role in the BBC TV sit-com ‘Steptoe and Son'.
Others in the cast included Liverpudlian actor Norman Rossington as Norm, the group’s road manager. Another Liverpool-born actor was Deryck Guyler, who portrayed a police sergeant. Actor John Junkin portrayed the group’s second road manager, Shake, and Kenneth Haigh, who played the part of Simon, an advertising executive, didn’t want his name in the film’s credits. Shenson explained, “He’s a Shakespearian actor and, like a lot of established people back then, he didn’t want to be associated with The Beatles. He got a lot of money for one day’s work and we agreed not to use his name. But he later listed ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ in his credits wherever he went”.
|The film was budgeted at £200,000, the production company was Proscenium Films and Shenson’s assistant was Dennis O’Dell. It was decided to film in black and white and Robert Freeman, the group’s photographer friend, was hired to create the title sequence, while George Martin was appointed musical director. He provided instrumental versions of ‘This Boy’, ‘I Should Have Known Better’, ‘And I Love Her’ and ‘A Hard Day’s Night.’|
The official announcement about the making of the film was given in December 1963. Shooting began on 2nd March 1964 and lasted for two months.
Twickenham Studios, Middlesex, was the setting for the interior scenes and location shooting took place at several sites in the London area. The Beatles are shown at Marylebone Station at the beginning of the film where they are pursued by hordes of fans, causing them to make an ingenious escape by dodging through the doors of taxis. St Margaret’s Field in Gatwick was used for the scene in which they engage in a bit of horseplay during a break in rehearsals for their TV show. It was also where the final scene – in which the boys are picked up by a helicopter – was filmed.
The Scala Theatre in Charlotte Street, London, was the setting for their performance before an audience on the television show. (In fact the group actually performed to rows of empty seats. The audience was admitted after the group had left the theatre and did all their screaming to a film of The Beatles’ performance).
The street scenes and police station sequences were filmed in Clarendon Road in Notting Hill Gate.
Walter Shenson also credited Ringo as the person who thought up the title. However, in John Lennon’s first book ‘In His Own Write’, published on 23rd March 1964, there is a story called ‘Sad Michael’ in which John wrote: “He’d had a hard day’s night that day, for Michael was a Cocky Watchtower”.
The scene occurred following George’s adventure in the advertising agency and his confrontation with the teenage model Susan Campey. Paul has set out in search of Ringo who has managed to get himself lost. Paul wanders around the Notting Hill area, coming across an old church hall that sports a sign ‘TV Rehearsal Room.’ A group of figures dressed in costume emerge and pass him. He enters and notices a girl moving about the huge room. She is dressed in theatrical costume and is quoting Shakespeare. After some moments, the girl notices Paul and pauses in her speech. He asks her to continue but she tells him to go away as he’s spoiled her solitary rehearsal. He remains and begins to chat with her, although she tells him he’ll be thrown out when the others return.
Paul has to utter such lines as: “I know your sort – two Cokes and a packet of cheese and onion crisps and suddenly it's love and we’re stopping in an empty street doorway. Gerrout of it! Ah, you’re lonely all right, you’re smashin’, but come round here and tell all that to me Mum – you won’t, will you? You’re just after me body and you can’t have it, so there!”, Paul remembers his mission to find Ringo and says his farewells.
As he leaves he hears the actress return to the rather artificial voice she’d been using which he’d first heard on her rehearsal. Then she pauses and begins again, using a much more naturalistic mode of speech, just as Paul had suggested.
When the boys arrive in London, they go to their hotel, where Norm leaves them to sort out their fan mail. However, Grandfather has noticed that a certain amount of good-humoured banter is directed at Ringo. Here, thinks Grandfather, is the weak link in the chain. Instead of staying in the hotel the four boys sneak out to enjoy themselves at a twist club and Grandfather, trading his clothes for a waiter’s suit, heads straight for a gambling club, passing himself off as Lord John McCartney. Again the boys have to rescue him, much to the old man’s indignation.
The following day sees the boys plunged into the bustle of the television world. Press conferences, rehearsals (they perform ‘If I Fell’), make-up, running from place to place, being shepherded by the harassed Norm and got at by the television show’s neurotic director, and always in the background is Grandfather, interfering, disrupting and needling Ringo.
|The Beatles' music obviously played a major part in the film and it was introduced in a refreshingly natural way, unlike the forced musical breaks in so many pop music films. The movie featured ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, ‘I Should Have Known Better’, ‘If I Fell’, ‘I’m Happy Just To Dance with You’, ‘And I Love Her’, ‘Tell Me Why’, ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’, ‘Any Time At All’, ‘I’ll Cry Instead’, ‘Things We Said Today’, ‘When I get Home’, ‘You Can’t Do That’ and ‘I’ll Be Back.’ The film was given a Royal World Premiere at the London Pavilion before HRH Princess Margaret and the Earl of Snowdon to aid the Dockland Settlements and the Variety Club Heart Fund on Monday 6th July 1964 at 8.30 pm. Piccadilly Circus had to be closed to traffic as there were literally thousands of fans crowding the area. After the show the group went on to supper at the Dorchester Hotel. The northern premier took place in Liverpool on 10th July at the Odeon Cinema, following a civic reception at the town hall. The film then went on general release in Britain on 2nd August.|