The Beatles Admit to Being 'Dead Nervous' in a Behind-the-Scenes Look at 'A Hard Day's Night'

Matt McDaniel
·Managing Editor

Fifty years ago, the Beatles were global pop-culture icons — their music ruled the pop charts and their first appearance on American TV broke viewership records. A move to the big screen was inevitable.

In March of 1964, the Fab Four began shooting a low-budget musical-comedy called A Hard Day’s Night. But performing on a stage is different than performing in front of a camera — even the young lads themselves wondered if they could, well, act naturally. 

The Beatles in A Hard Day's Night
The Beatles in A Hard Day's Night

The Criterion Collection’s new restored Blu-ray edition of A Hard Day’s Night takes audio from the Beatles’ American press tour from 1964 and incorporates photos and behind-the-scenes footage to give a fresh look at the making of the groundbreaking film. In this clip, the mop-topped stars admit that even though they were used to being the center of attention, the prospect of having to memorize dialogue and recite it on camera was truly daunting.

George Harrison said at the time, “At first it was very frightening, you know. It was nerve-wracking, trying to say these things as though we meant them, because that takes training as an actor, I reckon…We had to try and make it convincing without any experience.” Even John Lennon confessed to anxiety during the opening scenes of the movie that was filmed mostly in sequence. Lennon said, “We were all dead nervous. Practically the whole of the train bit we’re going to pieces we were so embarrassed about it all.”

Paul McCartney filming A Hard Day's Night
Paul McCartney filming A Hard Day's Night

Eventually, the boys in the band got over their embarrassment, reuniting with director Richard Lester for Help! in 1965. And each member appeared in non-Beatles films later in their careers (though only Ringo Starr, who carried the bulk of the dramatic scenes in A Hard Day’s Night, really pursued acting).

The brand-new 4K restoration of A Hard Day’s Night — with a 5.1 surround-sound mix — will open in theaters in nearly 100 cities on July 4. The Criterion Blu-ray is in stores today.

Find tickets for A Hard Day’s Night and this week’s other releases on our showtimes page.