Michael Palin hosts a 2007 radio special about The Beatles’ second movie Help!, which was first released July 29, 1965. The film was re-issued on DVD in November 2007 in a version that fully restored the print to its original visual quality and with a soundtrack that was upgraded with a surround sound mix.
In this 2007 radio special, we hear comments from the Beatles recorded in 1965 plus director Richard Lester and actors Eleanor Bron and Victor Spinetti recall working with them. There are also amusing stories about the unusual circumstances of filming in the Bahamas and Austria from the group’s then road manager and later head of Apple, Neil Aspinall and the movie’s Costume Designer Julie Harris.
The plot of the film revolves around members of an Eastern cult who chase after the bulbous red ring worn by Ringo, because without it they cannot make a human sacrifice to the goddess Kaili. With a nod to the popularity of the James Bond movies, a couple of eccentric scientists are also trying to steal it. As Michael Palin points out, the surreal dialogue and visual gags in the film were the kind of things that the Monty Python team later played with.
All seven songs featured in the movie are heard in the radio show: “Help!”, “You’re Going To Lose That Girl”, “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away”, “Another Girl”, “I Need You”, “The Night Before” and “Ticket To Ride”. Most songs are mimed performances in the film – with the group playing their instruments – but for “Ticket To Ride”, the Beatles are shown fooling about on snow-covered mountains as they skied, curled and fell over!
That startling sequence, in particular, has led to Richard Lester’s work with the Beatles being viewed as an inspiration for the style of music videos that caught the eye during the early days of MTV in the 1980s. Director Steve Barron, who first made his name with a succession of videos for artists such as Culture Club, The Human League and A-Ha confirms that influence in this program.
As we hear in the radio show, for all those involved in making Help!, it was a remarkable experience; with the film’s new lease of life on DVD, their work with the Beatles now seems guaranteed to entertain generation after generation.