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The Beatles, Magical Mystery Tour Memories
Arthouse Pictures Wienerworld, Ltd
DVD 90 mins
Magical Mystery Tour was a very good, very successful Beatles' record and a not so good Beatles' TV movie made in 1967 right after their manager, Brian Epstein's death. Paul McCartney wanted to get into film making and came up with the idea of a magical, mysterious ride on a tour bus where all four Beatles would get their own trippy segment to put together, along with other characters and vignettes in between. So, without much plan, "the boys" headed out into the country and filmed along the way. Nothing much was scripted before they hit the road and so the overall film suffers from not enough continuity of story, while still including some wonderful Beatle songs and moments. Without manager Brian Epstein, nothing much was arranged out in front of them either and thus some of the behind the scenes stories come from the disorganization around the film shoot.
Director David Lambert lets ordinary people tell their stories of brushes with The Beatles as the filming of Magical Mystery Tour went on for a few weeks in their home town. Some of the stories are interesting, some, not so much. There are also a few more celebrated contributors to the story telling, like Mike McCartney, Spencer Davis, Tony Branwell, and Neil Innes. The …Memories DVD is hosted by Victor Spinetti, a friend of John Lennon and an actor. Spinetti plays the army sergeant who yells at "the boys" in his unintelligible military language in the film. He also appeared in the three preceding Beatles movies, and keeps things here moving along from the moderator's seat. Spinetti ably introduces and sets up each clip with a few sentences and a bit of insight as to what was going on around the band and the filming site before many of the memories are told.
The DVD is interesting as it progresses from before the movie shoot began, to Paul and the big blue and yellow tour bus picking up John, George, and Ringo off the street curbsides in their neighborhood, and more or less tells the story chronologically of the filming process, and on to it's showing on BBC-1. Along with the personal stories the DVD shows us some newsreel like film of the Beatles and some rare pictures. There are also interviews with the band mates that we hadn't heard before. Then if one is still interested in hearing more Beatle memories there are the extras, where the same story tellers get to recount other times with the Beatles not related to Magical Mystery Tour.
There is no original Beatles music on the DVD, although there is some cover music behind some images of the band and others. We found the DVD to be entertaining and good fun, but the disc probably works for Beatles' fans only.