The Beatles: Not-So-Fab Forays
The moptops as moviemakers
You say you want a revelation? The Beatles have not only been portrayed in films like BackBeat and starred on screen themselves, they’ve played little- known roles behind the movie scenes as producers, directors, and screenwriters. Here, a sampling of their productions:
*John Oh! Calcutta! (1972, VidAmerica, $29.95) Lennon contributed at least one skit (about finding happiness through sex, in keeping with the show’s theme) to this counterculture Broadway musical, and he shared screenplay credit with cocontributors Kenneth Tynan, Jules Feiffer, and others when a performance was videotaped for theatrical release.
*Ringo Born to Boogie (1972, MPI, $29.98) When Ringo was floundering after the Beatles’ breakup, he produced and directed Boogie, a concert-film-with- fantasy-sequences starring glitter rocker Marc Bolan, of T. Rex fame, with whom he cowrote the screenplay. Let’s just say it’s of a time. (In 1974, Ringo also produced and costarred in Son of Dracula, along with pop singer/Beatle buddy Harry Nilsson. Unavailable on video, the 90-minute film is a clumsy musical spoof of Britain’s Hammer Films horror movies.)
*Paul Give My Regards to Broad Street (1984, FoxVideo, $19.98) McCartney wrote and starred in this musical caper about a good-hearted musician whose valuable recording tapes turn out to be missing (maybe he forgot that he sold them to Michael Jackson). He may have been trying to make a good old-fashioned movie musical, but this plays like a long, new-fashioned ”concept” video low on ideas.
*George Shanghai Surprise (1986, LIVE, $14.98) After producing Concert for Bangladesh (1972), the Quiet Beatle quietly embarked on a second career as a movie mogul. With his Handmade Films, he began by backing his Monty Python buddies as executive producer of Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979), Time Bandits (1981), and other movies before going on to a mixed bag of duds like Water (1985) and The Raggedy Rawney (1990), and art-house hits such as Mona Lisa (1986), The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne (1987), and Five Corners (1988). He is, alas, also the man who gave us Shanghai Surprise: Madonna as a missionary and Sean Penn as Indiana Jones-meets-Ratso Rizzo, hijinxing their way through 1937 China. It was awful, by George.
Born to Boogie