Monday, June 24, 2013

Doug's A Hard Day's Night Picture Tour

The opening sequence to A Hard Day's Night is one of the most iconic in film history. From the moment George strums that Fadd9 (huh?) chord, you know you're in for something special. But does the movie live up to the promise of those frenetic introductory scenes, or does it suffer from a bout of Apocalypse Now Syndrome? That's a question better addressed in Patrick and JB's recent podcast. I'm just here to humblebrag about my recent vacation.

Last February, I visited London for the very first time (weirdly enough, Bob IS my uncle [pip, pip!]). While I can't compete with JB (seriously, guy wins a Beatles-themed trivia contest, has a dedicated Beatles bathroom and once camped in the the forest where Heather Mills got her leg), I do consider myself a pretty big fan. I love the group (like every other American), I grew up listening to their songs and I made it a point to seek out Beatle locations while visiting England. Also, if you don't already know, my wife is the best. She's also a big Beatles fan (it's how we originally bonded [in addition to watching Wet Hot American Summer]), and was eager to join me as we canvassed several neighborhoods in search of Fab Four landmarks.

Many scenes (too many?) in A Hard Day's Night take place inside hotel rooms or other nondescript interiors (e.g., sets built on the Twickenham Studios lot). Likewise, there are a few exteriors that are equally unremarkable (e.g., the "Can't Buy Me Love" sequence, shot at Gatwick Airport). This means that finding identifiable locations nearly 50 years after the film came out is increasingly difficult.

Thankfully, some of these locations still exist.

The aforementioned opening sequence was meant to be Liverpool's famous Lime Street Station. It was actually filmed in London at Marylebone Station.

Sure, it might be a LITTLE embarrassing to recreate this sequence. Alone. But hey, I'm the guy who also ran across the Oberbaumbr¸cke (Oberbaum Bridge) after seeing Run Lola Run. Also alone! Pictures forthcoming?

I'm falling! Just like George! Get it!

For your reference, here's Liverpool's Lime Street Station:
Note: that girl in the foreground is not Yoko Ono.

Here's a phone booth! Just like in A Hard Day's Night!

"Look, mum! I'm talking on me telly-phone!" This is just to prove that I was in London.

While there are some scenes in which the train moves ...

Its final destination is also (wait for it) ... Marylebone Station. BTW, that's me and my wife taking a Virgin train (not after we were done with it) to Liverpool (only about three hours away by rail).
Here's me taking in the station's exterior. Note: those girls walking out are not the Beatles.

I hate to say it, but those are probably the most recognizable existing locations in A Hard Day's Night (I didn't get around to a tour of Twickenham Studios, nor do they even still have any of the old Beatles sets).

BUT, if you're still interested in seeing some historic Beatle locations throughout London and Liverpool, READ ON!

Disclaimer: the rest of this post has very little [read: nothing] to do with movies. As if the first section was a real cinematic home run (it was not).

Here we are walking across Abbey Road, just like the Beatles! And every other tourist over the last 50 years! 28 IF!
Here is the Beatles' ill-fated Apple Boutique building. Far out, dude!

Here we are standing by a Penny Lane sign in Liverpool. Four of fish and finger pies! Uh, Beatles much?
Strawberry Fields! We buried Paul! You should know that we did NOT add graffiti to the gate, because WE are NOT assholes!
Here I am sitting in the same booth used by the pre-fame Beatles at a bar called The Grapes in Liverpool. Notice the inset in the photo. Pete Best drank here! Now you are the most jealous!
John's boyhood home, Mendips! Fact: he was a Beatle!
Me in front of a replica Cavern Club set inside The Beatles Story museum in Liverpool. Sure, it's cheesy, but when you get to Liverpool via train at 6 a.m. and you've got FIVE HOURS to kill before a bus tour, whaddya gonna do?
Our tour bus! You can tell they took exactly .0003 seconds to come up with their name.
Me and ... John? George? Gerry sans Pacemakers? Having a friendly BEATLE-RELATED chat outside the site of the REAL Cavern Club. I was all, "I love Rubber Soul!" And he was all, "Oil can!"
All the lonely people, where do they all come from? Fact: this isn't the real tombstone of Eleanor Rigby. That was in the museum annex.
Creepy Beatles!
Hope you enjoyed looking at my pictures! Sure, it was just like one of those boring, post-vacation slide shows in your neighbors' living room in the '80s. Only here, you have the option to close the tab! Thanks for reading! Rock 'n' roll-sploitation!


  1. Definitely not boring! I would love to see more F-Head movie scene re-creation pics, or hear F-Head movie site stories.

  2. Great pics, ya big nerd! I've got my own Abbey Road re-creation photo somewhere. Gear fab. Never made it to Liverpool, but I do own a Strawberry Fields children's home 50th Anniversary commemorative mug. No Beatles branding but I dig it anyway. And by "it anyway" I mean "a pony."

  3. Very nice. Now that I've been to these places through your pictures (and "The Amazing Race's") there's no need for me to ever go there, so thanks. :-)

  4. These pictures are great and all, but I think the question on everybody's mind is: did you stalk any London celebs?

    Totally kidding, these are all great and that looks like a lot of fun! As a big Beatles fan (and music fan in general) I would all that stuff in person someday. Except what ever the heck is under that "creepy Beatles" caption, that's just scary.

    Also, let it be known that I think you are a very entertaining writer (and person in general), Doug.

  5. This is very, very cool. Doug, it's good to see you outside of Trailerz. I would have LIKED to have seen the pictures of you and your wife recreating the Two Virgins album cover, but maybe you can show that another time. *Super Obvious Wink*

    When I was in London, I set out for Abbey Road but only made it as far as Baker Street. The sun had set, killing the photo opportunity, plus we were starving. So I guess I shouldn't have even brought it up. This is the point where the story just sort of....peters....out.....

    The Fadd9 is such a great chord, instantly recognizable. Even if that's all you play, everyone knows what it is. It's the Hard Day's Night chord. Panties DROP. Then, when you don't play the rest of the song, they come right back up.

    your England vacation looks very awesome. When I got back home, I had developed a taste for marmalade, Earl Grey, Cadbury's Digestive Biscuits, and educational shows hosted by Stephen Fry. Also, socialized medicine.

    By the way, you probably get this all the time, but has anyone ever told you that you look like the lead singer of YesMen?

  6. Great shares Doug.
    But the big question is, Did you go see the Pink show?

  7. Really cool, Doug. I just cut and paste this right into my Bucket List if that's okay with you.

    So, how are things going otherwise? I feel like we hardly get a chance to talk anymore and I'm typing this FROM YOUR BEDROOM CLOSET SO I KNOW YOU'RE HOME.

  8. For some strange reason I was expecting you to look like Neil Patrick Harris.

  9. Thanks for all the kind words!

    @Jan: yay! More pics! From everyone!

    @Erich: you owe the estate of John Lennon $7.

    @JM: you NEED to go. Beatles!

    @John: no I didn't stalk any celebs (although I did do a guest spot on Coupling).

    @Heath: we all have our stories. And I have no idea what you're talking about. YesMen? Doesn't ring a bell ...

    @Brad: no time for the Pink show. Too busy stalking celebs.

    @Sol: hand me my pants!

    @Steve: thanks?

  10. I've been doing some research and have some doubts as to whether the opening scene of A Hard Day's Night was shot on Boston Place. I know everyone seems to agree on that and tour companies regularly take people there to recreate the scene, but look at the big white building in the background in the movie stills. Then take a look at the wide angle shot that you post here that wasn't used in the movie. Doesn;t that street look too wide to be Boston Place?