As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ first performances in the United States — and the half century of great music — be sure to watch the CBS Grammy tribute tomorrow night, featuring Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. And you might want to take a look at this special issue of Smithsonian Magazine, produced with the Grammy Museum, with tributes from Smokey Robinson, Pat Benatar, Brian Wilson, Lester Bangs, and many more, plus never-before-seen photos and recollections by Ringo Starr.
Back in 1964, the Beatles looked like this:
Their career in music is unmatched. And they made some great movies, too.
By any standard, A Hard Day’s Night is a brilliant film, directed by Richard Lester in an intimate, improvisational style that still seems very fresh today. Because it seems like a documentary, people often forget that it was fully scripted by the talented Alun Owen, who was nominated for an Oscar.
Their next movie is the silly spoof Help!. It is still fun to watch.
Magical Mystery Tour is an incoherent mess, but the music is still great.
Yellow Submarine is one of the all-time greats of animation, with a charming story and wildly innovative visuals.
Let It Be is a documentary about what would turn out to be the last days of the Beatles, featuring an exhilarating rooftop concert.