How could I dance with another?

Speaking of the genesis of The Beatles: The First U.S. Visit, Albert Maysles says that one day the phone rang and it was Granada TV on the other end of the line, announcing that the band was landing at Idlewild in two hours, and, oh, did the brothers want to make a film about them? Albert, who was into classical music, was at a loss, so he kindly put the phone down and asked his brother David “Are they any good?” The result, after the filmmakers had followed the band around New York, Washington and Miami for three weeks, was this terrific 84-minute film. It’s fortunate, though, that both the Beatles and the Maysles were so good at what they did because, really, they could make it awfully hard to love them much as people. Albert Maysles is one of the greatest documentary filmmakers to ever walk the earth, but he can also be a pompous ass, and even if their every tenth joke is fall-on-the-floor funny, The Beatles couldn’t stop acting out all the worst scenes from Help!

That leaves the music, which is a gas. The band’s energy noticeably drops off in the last Sullivan show (the one in which Ed threw the Fab Four by relaying Richard Rodgers’ congrats to them), but the first Sullivan show and especially the show in D.C. were just killer. (Don’t believe me? Just check out the clip below.) Its innocence comes from it getting under the door in time to still be just about the music—not the war or the drugs or any of that other stuff—a still pure youth happening before it gelled into a Movement. The concerts also made for the best audience reaction shots this side of Jazz on a Summer’s Day. The shriekers and criers top the bill, of course, but there are also the Anthropologists—the girls (and certain of the guys) who only sit, chin in hand, soberly studying the scene even as it explodes all around them—as well as the Lost Souls (almost all guys), who look as if they showed up only because they were given tickets to what they thought was going to be a car show. In any case, you can’t help but love the two girls in the matching checked shirts.

One Response to “How could I dance with another?”

  1. ApoorvguptA Says:

    Hey, thanks for such a nice share..
    The Beatles are amazing..

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