Many films have been made about The Beatles as documentaries, but there’s many more turned into biopics, musicals, and even a parody. Here’s looking at the number nine Beatles-related films that either tells a tale of diehard Beatlemania fans to the band’s incredible rise from Liverpool, England. Why nine instead of the top 10 films you ask? That’s because the number nine was indeed a very significant number for its leader and founder, John Lennon.
Across the Universe (2007)
Starting off, here is one of two musicals on the list based on all songs by The Beatles. “Across the Universe” fancies itself in the same mode of movie musicals from Hollywood and Broadway. Here comes this clever tale of Jude from Liverpool who goes searching for his father in America during the turbulent 1960s. There he meets a beautiful American girl name Lucy. Bono makes an appearance as Dr. Robert, and Eddie Izzard as Mr. Kite, in one of the many lavish Beatlesque productions.
Two of Us (2000)
Who better to direct this “what if” film drama than Michael Lindsay-Hogg, who was behind the scenes as director of the Beatles’ documentary “Let It Be.” It was set in the autumn of 1976 at the height of Paul McCartney and Wings career and “Silly Love Songs” period. McCartney is in New York and decides to visit an old friend at the famed Dakota, his songwriting partner John Lennon. Yoko Ono is out of town with their son Sean. Beatle fans may appreciate this film as it delves deep into old wounds between the two. Otherwise, “Two of Us” may be too stagey for the casual filmgoer. The last part of the film is worth its weight in gold.
Birth of the Beatles (1979)
The first of several Beatles-related biopics that was filmed on location in Hamburg, Germany, and Liverpool, England. You’ll recognize one scene with John and Cynthia walking to the gates of Strawberry Field. One of the best scenes is the band performing in the red-light district of Hamburg known as the Reeperbahn. Just like its title, “Birth of the Beatles” takes place during its Quarrymen days to the Ed Sullivan show success in the U.S. Ironically, the film was released on November 23, 1979, nearly a year before Lennon’s assassination.
Beatlemania The Movie (1981)
Here’s the second all-exclusive Beatles musical, straight from its Broadway production, chronicling their career from the early days to its break-up. The actor portraying Paul McCartney in “Beatlemania” looks remarkably like him, except for one important element. McCartney is famous for playing his bass left-handed, while the actor was clearly right-handed.
Nowhere Boy (2010)
An excellent film with the Oscar-winning actress, Kristin Scott Thomas, as Mimi Smith, John Lennon’s maternal aunt. “Nowhere Boy” is a play on words from Lennon’s musical composition “Nowhere Man” released in 1965. A number of films have centered on John’s difficult childhood, but this one differs greatly. It focuses much attention on his close friendship/relationship with this mother, Julia. The film’s release date coincided with the 30th anniversary of Lennon’s death.
I Wanna Hold Your Hand (1978)
If I could go back in a time machine, I would want to be with these diehard Beatle fans in a New York minute. It’s the weekend of The Beatles arrival in New York City nearly 50 years ago in early February 1964. A band of crazy teenager girls and some hapless guys from nearby New Jersey are determined to be one of the lucky ones to secure tickets for “The Ed Sullivan Show.” This has to be the wildest Beatles film ever made and one of my all-time favorites. Steven Spielberg (“Lincoln”) was the executive producer for “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.”
In His Life: The John Lennon Story (2000)
During the 20th anniversary of Lennon’s death, and his 60th birthday, comes this film that dealt with Lennon’s earliest musical career. “In His Life” is also mixed with moments of his home life and courtship with Cynthia Powell. The American actress Blair Brown portrays his aunt Mimi. Philip McQuillen’s performance of John Lennon does grow on you throughout the film.
The Rutles: All You Need is Cash (1978)
By far one of the best parody films on the Fab Four ever made. The mockumentary follows “The Rutles” who comprise of Nasty, Barry, Stig, and Dirk, who coincidentally are eerily similar to The Beatles. This has an excellent mix of British and American humor from the likes of Monty Python and SNL Be on the lookout for cameos by Mick Jagger, Paul Simon, and an almost unrecognizable George Harrison as a roving BBC reporter. In 2003 a sequel was made titled “The Rutles 2: Can’t Buy Me Lunch.”
It’s considered one, if not the best, of all Beatles-related films among fans and critics alike. Once again here’s another story of the Beatles early years biopic, except it centers primarily on Stu Sutcliffe. He was John Lennon’s classmate from Art College and a close friend. Lennon recruits Stu to become a part of his band. Ian Hart is mesmerizing as John Lennon, while American actor Stephen Dorff is brilliant as Stuart Sutcliffe. Incidentally, Ian Hart was in another Beatles film “The Hours and Times” (1992) about Lennon’s and Brian Epstein’s trip to Spain together. Hart portrayed a Scottish nightclub singer in “Strictly Sinatra” (2000).
Lastly, in making this an unofficial Top 10 entry is news of an upcoming Beatles-related film titled “The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story.” It will begin filming in 2014, and it’s to be produced by the Oscar winner, Bruce Cohen. This film is based on the graphic novel of the same name of the extraordinary Beatles manager.