The tomfoolery isn't a juvenile version of rock 'n' roll raging; it's a British form of antagonism that is pervasive throughout the county's rich cultural history; it's the plot against Malvolio in Twelfth Night, or the Pythons against the Church of England. Lester Bangs - the American high priest of rock criticism - overlooked this subtlety: "Fuck the Beatles...the most rock-and-roll human being in the whole movie is the fucking grandfather!" Paul's grandfather - one of the film's more outlandish contrivances - is a Monsieur Hulot-like figure, constantly finding himself in hot water; he's a terrific addition to the foursome with his wily schemes and Carry On impulses. The question remains - what is A Hard Day's Night? It's not a jukebox musical in the traditional sense, nor is it a knockabout comedy or documentary.
What Lester's film was, in fact, was pure lightening in a bottle; a fortuitous combustion of English attitudes and American vision. Lester, with his background in advertising, crafted a living pop art instillation; a commercial work full of subversive undercurrents. It scoffs at the notion of image construction while simultaneously marketing the band. In that sense, A Hard Day's Night is a Warholian construct that feeds off the contradiction of the times. Lester would go on to make one of the defining films of the sixties with Petulia (1968); it's almost as if he had a sixth sense of the direction the counterculture would take. It all started with A Hard Day's Night.
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