Editor's Note: Since yesterday's posting, the film's run at the Hollywood was extended through Thu., Sept. 29.
I stopped by last night to catch Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years
at the Hollywood Theater, and much to my surprise I walked into a sellout: The single-screen theater, which seats 285, was the venue for a WYEP-promoted evening, and those of us without a YEP membership or advance-purchased tickets had to line up and wait for no-shows to be confirmed.
Despite the minor inconvenience, I’m glad I stuck it out, rather than just streaming Ron Howard’s film on Hulu
: This documentary, with its limited theatrical run, is a good one to see with a crowd, naturally one stuffed with Beatles enthusiasts (many of whom last night violated the rule of not wearing a band’s T-shirts to that band’s concert/movie).
The film covers the Beatles from their formative residencies in the nightclubs of Hamburg, Germany, to their final live show, 50 years ago, in San Francisco. Not only was the Hollywood’s partisan audience rapt, but you don’t see many movies these days where people applaud at the end. Hell, unprompted, the crowd even supplied the original recording’s handclaps to the title song as played in the film.
Another reason to catch Eight Days
is that the producers have tagged onto its end 30 minutes of footage from the famous August 1965 Shea Stadium concert. It’s the group’s whole set, minus the opening acts, and it’s great stuff, with 12 cameramen contributing lots of close-ups and shots of screaming girls in the crowd. The sound’s actually pretty decent, too – no idea how they pulled that off, especially because no small part of Eight Days
a week concerns how inadequate the amplification technology of that time was to playing live music in stadiums, a practice the Beatles pioneered of necessity. A musician I sat next to marveled at how the group sang harmonies without apparently being able to hear each other
At any rate, unless you’re a complete Beatles geek you’ll probably learn something from the film, whether concerning the Fabs’ role in ending racial segregation at concerts in the South or simply the grueling nature of the group’s touring and recording schedule in those early days.
And even if you've seen most of the footage before (everyone of course knows the Ed Sullvan stuff, for instance), it’s still great to have so much of it in the same place. And in fact there is some rare audio and video, including footage from Liverpool’s Cavern club and studio chatter from the making of Rubber Soul
A quibble: The film entirely erases from history Pete Best, the group’s first drummer. Having introduced Ringo right off the bat, Eight Days
leaves the impression that while Ringo replaced another drummer (whom it doesn't name), it was he who was behind the kit during those crucial Hamburg residencies. In fact, Ringo joined the group in August 1962, after the Beatles had completed all but the last of their Hamburg sojourns.
Here's Al Hoff's review
of the film for CP
Eight Days a Week
nightly through Thursday at 7 p.m.
through Sept. 29. Tickets are $8.
is located at 1446 Potomac Ave.