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Category:    Home > Reviews > Musical > Rock > Comedy > British > Novelty Songs > Fantasy > Musical > Large-Frame Format > A Hard Day's Night 4K (1964/Criterion 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Fool's Gold: Lux and Ivy Dig Those Novelty Tunes (2022 compilation/Cherry Red UK/Righteous CD)/The Wonderful World Of The Brothers

A Hard Day's Night 4K (1964/Criterion 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Fool's Gold: Lux and Ivy Dig Those Novelty Tunes (2022 compilation/Cherry Red UK/Righteous CD)/The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm (1962/MGM/Cinerama/Warner Archive Blu-ray Set)

4K Ultra HD Picture: B+ Picture: B-/X/B+ & B Sound: B/B-/B Extras: B+/C-/B- Main Programs: B/B-/B-

PLEASE NOTE: The Fool's Gold Import CD is now only available from our friends at Cherry Red UK Records, while The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series. All can be ordered from the links below.

Up next are three, great, fun, key music releases, including a nearly lost epic, now all restored and ready to go...

By the early 1960s, Hollywood was still making Musicals and a cycle of Rock N Roll movies, usually low budget black and white releases, had come and gone, but all were in decline with many thinking Rock music was just a fad that was over and Musicals (like Cukor's hit version of My Fair Lady) were rare, big events. However, the Musical was to get a big revival in 1965 (The Sound Of Music was a smash hit, though most Musicals after bombed) and the permanent return of Rock Music would produce the most significant music film of the decade.

Richard Lester's A Hard Day's Night 4K (1964) allowed the already, instantly massive debut of The Beatles to only expand in a film that told a comical, fictional version of their lives, running from fans, annoying the boring and performing some of the most unforgettable new songs of the time. If they were not singing the films on stage or on the spot, more boldly, the songs were accompanied by kinetic, groundbreaking sequences of them running around, goofing off and bringing a new life to all films that combined images with music. Much imitated since and still, this was very groundbreaking at the time and the film joined Goldfinger, Dr. Strangelove, Mary Poppins and the first two Pink Panther films as one of the top hits of the year.

It can also be argued that it was the debut of the soundtrack-driven non-Musical that came out of the MTV 1980s in films like Flashdance and Footloose. Now, the film did not have to necessarily have the people you saw on screen singing (or pretending to sing) and The Beatles would up the ante in doing this themselves with Help! (1966) and the animated Yellow Submarine (1968) as endless imitators on the big screen (Herman's Hermits, Dave Clark Five) small (The Monkees, The Partridge Family, endless cartoon shows whose characters happened to have formed Rock bands or actual bands (The Jackson 5, The Osmonds) were the stars) and even TV commercials followed in droves.

Yet, here is the original, in all of its simple fun, power, pace, energy, joy and though it is not a film without a few flaws, the fact that almost all of it still works and has dated little versus the world of now-overlicensed songs (and usually bad remakes) is still an amazing (even when sometimes fictitious) window into the early years and beginning of the greatest, biggest and still most influential band of all time of any kind or any kind of music. Now totally preserved and restored for 4K as presented here, any doubts of its importance and tip think this was only the very beginning.

Criterion has made this one of their first 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray releases along with Welles' Citizen Kane (1941) appropriately and it also remains one of the best-looking black and white music films ever made, as well as one of the most important British feature films of all time. The humor also holds up well. The supporting cast includes Wilfrid Brambell, the underrated Anna Quayle, Victor Spinetti, Julian Holloway, John Junkin, Norman Rossington, Richard Vernon, Kenneth Haigh, Pattie Boyd and a then unknown Phil Collins in one of the crowds somewhere; those screaming fans chasing the band who always deserve a special mention.

Needless to say this is a must-see film and this is easily the best version ever issued.

Now for playback performance. The film was shot on black and white 35mm camera negative by a Director of Photography who many consider 'The Beatles' of all British cameramen and maybe all cinematographers: Gilbert Taylor, B.S.C. (Dr. Strangelove, Polanski's Repulsion, Hitchcock's Frenzy, the original Omen, the original Star Wars (1977,) 1979 Dracula, 1980 Flash Gordon, the TV spy classic The Avengers for starters) resulting in some of the most iconic images in both cinema history and all time pop culture to day and always.

I thought the Video Grey was a little odd on the older and newer regular 1080p Blu-ray editions, but the 1.75 X 1, 2160p HECV/H.265, 1.33 X 1, black & white, 12-bit Dolby Vision/HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image 4K version does not have that slight issue and some of the images are archival and demo quality above my rating. The band could not have landed a better cameraman at that time and the rest is history. The images speak for themselves and every serious music and home theater fan should have this 4K edition just on that basis.

As for sound, the film was originally issued by United Artists (the band's home studio all the way until their break-up) in optical theatrical mono sound, but Producer Walter Shenson decided to do an odd Dolby Stereo surround upgrade for its 1976 theatrical reissue and the results were a little shrill and problematic. Criterion issued this on the old 12-inch LaserDisc format decades ago when they made that format a high end success until DVD arrived, at which point MPI issued a so-so edition in that format.

From the original magnetic track soundmasters, new songs are 4-track, the older songs, 2-track, ''She Loves You'' sadly only survived in mono and George Martin's underscore for the film is in 3-tracks. The previous Blu-ray had PCM 2.0 Mono, PCM 2.0 Stereo and at its best, a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 mix that made the film sound as good as it ever had, but I preferred the DTS in the older edition (unreviewed) that Criterion issued. Now, the new Blu-ray and 4K editions share the same soundtracks, but both have their PCM 2.0 Stereo sounding much better than the older Criterion Blu-ray to the point that the stereo can now compete with the DTS during the songs. I liked them a bit better in stereo this time and you can compare the two if and when you get the set.

Needless to say it is a revelation and another reason for Beatles fans to be pleased.

Extras repeat the older Blu-ray/DVD set and include a thick, high quality booklet on the film including illustrations, tech info., an essay by critic Howard Hampton and excerpts from a 1970 interview with Lester, a new 4K digital restoration, approved by director Richard Lester, with three audio options: a monaural soundtrack as well as stereo and 5.1 surround mixes supervised by sound producer Giles Martin at Abbey Road Studio, presented in uncompressed PCM monaural, uncompressed PCM stereo, and DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless mix as noted above. Plus...

Feature Length Audio Commentary featuring cast and crew

In Their Own Voices, a program featuring 1964 interviews with the Beatles and behind-the-scenes footage and photos

''You Can't Do That'': The Making of ''A Hard Day’s Night,'' a 1994 documentary by producer Walter Shenson including an outtake performance by the Beatles

Things They Said Today, a 2002 documentary about the film featuring Lester, music producer George Martin, screenwriter Alun Owen, and cinematographer Gilbert Taylor

Picturewise, a program about Lester's early work, featuring a 2014 audio interview with the director

The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film (1960), Lester's Oscar-nominated short

Anatomy of a Style, a 2014 program on Lester's methods

and an interview from 2014 with Beatles biographer Mark Lewisohn

Next up is a new compilation of some older songs from the 1950s and 1960s called Fool's Gold: Lux and Ivy Dig Those Novelty Tunes that collects all kinds of novelty records of the time, ranging from bad to all-time bad to unintentionally and much more. The tracks often speak for themselves...

1. Spike Jones - Pimples And Braces
2. The Legendary Stardust Cowboy - Paralyzed
3. Edd Byrnes - Kookie's Mad Pad
4. Danny Kaye - Mommy, Gimme a Drinka Water
5. Eugene Fox - The Sinner's Dream
6. Brian Hyland - Cozy Little Compact Car
7. The Playmates - Beep Beep
8. Tony Burrello - There's A New Sound (The Sound Of Worms)
9. Sheb Wooley - The Purple People Eater
10. The Five Blobs - The Blob
11. Hugh Barrett And The Victors - Fungus Among Us
12. Dicky Doo And The Don'ts - Nee Nee Nana Nunu
13. Blue Chips - One Hen-Two Ducks-Three Squawking Geese
14. Jerry Neal - I Hates Rabbits
15. Glenn And Christy - Wombat Twist
16. Bobby Borda Five - Mad - Part One
17. Sidney And The Chimps - Blah!
18. The Joker - What Is a Fisterris
19. Jim Backus - Delicious!
20. Dicky Doo And The Don'ts - No Chemise Please!
21. Cindy Malone - Weird Beard
22. Oscar Brown Jr - But I Was Cool
23. Googie Rene - Big Foot
24. Kookie Kat - Neow, Not Neow
25. The Empalas - Smoochin' In The Sewer With Louie

Remarkably, I had somehow managed to hear some of these 'gems' many years ago, but maybe I would have heard more had I been a regular listener to The Dr. Demento Show or the like. You have to hear them all to believe them, but I'll comment on a few of the tracks. Track 3 has 77 Sunset Strip star Byrne's trying to keep his popular supporting character going, but this does not work as well. The actor continued to push the persona for decades into the color TV era with a comb commercial that got much airplay. Track 4 is more wackiness from Kaye and his effortlessness comic personas, from his feature film to his hit TV show, so expect to be amused.

Track 6 had teen idol Hyland trying to follow up his comically classic smash novelty hit itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini, but it just does not have the fun or pace, though fans might have wanted more of the dramatic side of him that produced the all-time classic Sealed With A Kiss. His career continued well into the 1970s and was always liked.

Track 19 has the Mr. Magoo voice, Gillian's Island star and great character actor (see below) doing his best to duplicate his success on vinyl. Its an amusing curio fans will get a kick out of and I'm sure he cut more.

Finally, Track 24 is a hoot that I will not try to describe, but is one of the best howlers in this set.

The booklet includes illustrations and an essay by Dave Henderson of MOJO Magazine and we'll try to cover more such collections. Sound quality varies, but the PCM 2.0 sound is usually mono, though some tracks are in simple stereo. The quality is just fine, especially for the age and budget of some of the tracks.

Finally, restored by popular demand, Henry Levin & George Pal's The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm (1962) is an epic fantasy production that also happens to be a musical at times and is the biggest film groundbreaking fantasy/science fiction producer/director Pal ever helmed. The following press release will give you an idea of the film's narrative and classic Grimm tales within...

''The story behind the brothers who created beloved fairy tales come to life, with reenactments of three of their stories. The film tells the story of the brothers' long struggle for recognition and the sacrifices they and their families made to achieve their goals. Between dreamer Wilhelm (Laurence Harvey) and practical Jacob (Karl Boehm), some marvelous fairy tales develop. In "The Dancing Princess," a princess (Yvette Mimieux) falls in love with a charming woodsman (Russ Tamblyn). In "The Cobbler and the Elves," a Christmas miracle of dedicated labor helps the cobbler out when he most needs it. And in the last story, a fire-breathing dragon threatens the kingdom until a lowly servant (Buddy Hackett) saves the day. Shot on location in West Germany, the innovative production features Puppetoons, a technique developed by Oscar-winning special effects expert George Pal. Meticulously restored from its original Cinerama negatives, this fanciful delight is a treat for audiences of all ages.....and this Deluxe Two Disc Edition gives the viewer the opportunity to watch the film either in a traditional letterbox format, or in the Smilebox format which attempts to re-create the immersive Cinerama experience with a simulated curve to the screen. Both versions bring together the three original Cinerama panels with virtually no trace of the lines that joined them together when originally projected in theaters back in 1962.''

But that is only part of the story, as this is not just another movie, but a major big screen experience and continues the stunning restorations of all Cinerama films that began many years ago with the classic 1952 This Is Cinerama and the rest of the travelogue films that made the format and widescreen moviemaking permanent and hugely profitable. You can read more about all of them elsewhere on this site, including Windjammer (in the brief rival CineMiracle format) Warner's similar double disc set of the original How The West Was Won (also 1962 and MGM) which wrapped up such productions for decades. )We also have more Puppetoon coverage on the site, so check that out too!)

Cinerama restorationists David Strohmaier and Tom March have been nothing short of stunning and with the many problems of the longest film they ever had to tackle, their crowning achievement in saving these stunning productions. This included fixing errors that have always been in the film but were not supposed to be there, including lighting issues in the Puppetoon stop-motion work, going on and off with nothing that could be done about it, matte work issues and lighting inaccuracies, including on the dragon! They corrected these, which is great, especially considering this remains some of the only modeling work and stop-motion work in cinema history shot in a large-frame format and certainly some of the earliest.

Both versions are the 140 Minutes-Roadshow presentation with Overture, Intermission, Entr'acte, and Exit Music, so no compromises here. Though the film has received mixed reviews over the decades, in fairness to it, it has not been available in the best version to really tell how good it is. No fan of Terry Gilliam's Brothers Grimm movie, which should have worked much, much better than it did, it is a family-friendly, consistent presentation that is very ambitious, has a solid cast and is a better film than it has received credit for. Compare to other fantasy productions of the time with Ray Harryhausen and others, then you can see how well this really works. The songs by Bob Merrill are not bad (Leigh Harline did the instrumental scoring,) not staying with me after watching it, but working just fine as I watched. Cheers as well to Jim Backus, Barbara Eden (on her way to being an all-time fantasy/comedy icon!,) Terry-Thomas, Claire Bloom, Oscar Homolka, Walter Slezak, Beulah Bondi, Ian Wolfe, Otto Kruger and an uncredited Billy Barty.

The 1080p 2.89 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer is here in regular letterboxing and the much better Smilebox format, which shows more of the film's richness and the formats definition capacity, depth and color range, the version that gets my higher rating. One of only three Cinerama films (all pretty much shot on Eastman Kodak 35mm color negative film with 6-perforations vs. the usual 4 per strip) and issued in dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor, the restoration team had actual 35mm Technicolor sample strips to grade the color of this restoration with and they pulled off some great results.

While almost all Eastman Color-produced prints of all the Cinerama productions, including 35mm reduction prints MGM did from their MetroColor labs, have faded away, the archived 35mm negative materials did not totally fade away and that is how all the films were saved over the last few decades. Add much-needed corrections that had never been done and the wide ranging water and mold damage to the camera negatives and you can see why it took so long to restore and save this film.

Director of Photography Paul Vogel (Angels In The Outfield, Arena, The Tender Trap, High Society, The Money Trap, Hold On! with Herman's Hermits) was a longtime MGM veteran who had worked with Pal before on The Time Machine, had already worked with several widescreen formats and several color formats when he took this on and it is up there with the very best work of his career. One of the few films in this format with a narrative, he made sure he brought out the best in each scene with great compositions and he is one of the reasons it has not dated as much as so many other films of the time, especially in the genre.

The sound is also a big surprise here, presented in a new DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix off of the original 7-track magnetic soundmaster with traveling dialogue and sound effects that was starting to have issues, as expected for materials that old. The resulting restoration has great sonics and sounds as good as any film of its time or before, including some impressive sound restorations out on 4K (Hitchcock's Psycho), Lawrence Of Arabia) and Blu-ray (Dr. No, the first James Bond film, Brigadoon, Bells Are Ringing with Judy Holliday, Hitchcock's Vertigo) so expect to be as surprised with the sound as you will be with the image.

Special Features are great and include:

  • Rescuing a Fantasy Classic-Documentary (HD, 40 minutes) NEW!

  • The Epic Art of The Brothers Grimm (HD) NEW!

  • The Wonderful Career of George Pal (HD) NEW!

  • Announcement Trailer

  • Cinerama Theatrical Trailer

  • Smilebox Theatrical Trailer

  • Letterbox Theatrical Trailer

  • Vintage audio interviews with Russ Tamblyn and Yvette Mimieux

  • Stills & Posters slideshow section

  • Rothenberg, Germany, Location Commemorative Plaque NEW!

  • and A Salute To William Foreman NEW!

To order the Fool's Gold Import CD, you can get it quickly at a great low price at this link:


...and to order The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm Warner Archive Blu-ray set, go to this link for it and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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