Once upon a time…or perhaps twice…and on a private notice…I’ve been a Beatles fan so long as I can keep in mind. Similarly, I’ve been a movie fanatic for almost as long (though not fairly). So, sooner or later, I naturally began excited about my favorite Beatle movie moments. Then, I started to ponder the moments that by no means truly happened. Now, I’m not suggesting that I was lost in some type of drug-induced Sixties flashback, but somewhat I was fascinated with the several unrealized movie tasks that the band by no means truly made.
Positive, A Onerous Day’s Night time (1964) is incredible; Assist! (1965) has its personal distinctive appeal by spoofing the then “new” James Bond fashion spy movie; Yellow Submarine (1968) is elegant in its ground-breaking animated whimsy; and, lastly, Magical Thriller Tour (1967) and Let It Be (1970) are pretty darn good celluloid time capsules. But, wouldn’t it have been fascinating to have seen a model of The Lord of the Rings starring the Beatles (especially given the involvement of director Peter Jackson within the current revisioning of the “Let It Be” venture…more on that later)? That’s simply one of many many movie tasks that have been rejected by the band that would trigger even probably the most casual Beatle fan to marvel what may need been.
The Heyday of Beatlemania on Film
Previous to the initial wave of American Beatlemania again within the early 1960s, The Beatles’ supervisor, Brian Epstein, signed the band to a three-picture contract with United Artists. A Onerous Day’s Night time and Help! shortly fulfilled two-thirds of their obligation. Following the crucial (at the least in the case of A Arduous Day’s Night time) and business success of those two movies, Walter Shenson, the producer of each films, started in search of a third property to showcase the Fab 4.
Several tasks have been thought-about, announced, and finally deserted. Among the a number of un-produced Beatle film tasks have been ideas starting from the wistful (A Talent for Loving), the foolish (The Three Musketeers), the absurd (The Lord of the Rings), the avant-garde (Shades of a Character), and the simply plain weird (Up Towards It). It is Joe Orton’s Up Towards It that proves notably intriguing. This never-was Beatle film’s tragic history, gifted but cursed writer, and moderately weird themes and motifs (that appeared particularly designed to shatter the wholesome Beatle picture), make it an interesting footnote within the historical past of the band (and their filmic endeavors).
The primary proposed third film was titled A Talent for Loving. Based mostly on the novel by Richard Condon (who had previously penned The Manchurian Candidate ), the film was alleged to comply with 4 Liverpudlian pioneers in the Previous West, embrace a harrowing horse race across the country, and the affections of a well-to-do (and presumably lovely) younger lady. Regardless that A Expertise for Loving was formally introduced as the Beatles subsequent film in early 1965, by June, the movie had been abandoned and the seek for a 3rd undertaking carried on. That movie would later be original right into a car for Richard Widmark and Topol referred to as Gun Crazy (1969).
Different tasks have been advised, including The Lord of the Rings and The Three Musketeers, and finally rejected. A collaboration with Walt Disney on the animated film The Jungle Guide was additionally mentioned around this time. It was hoped that The Beatles would document the music and even make a quick look within the film. John Lennon was vehemently against the thought and refused to even think about the likelihood. Lennon, nevertheless, had been championing a Lord of the Rings venture (he planned on enjoying Gollum with Paul McCartney as Frodo, George Harrison as Gandalf, and Ringo Starr as Frodo’s confidant Sam). That challenge was finally shelved when the movie rights have been refused by the J.R.R. Tolkien property. However it’s definitely intriguing to consider what a Beatles model of Tolkien’s epic drama may need appeared like with 1960s-era special results and the influence of the burgeoning “hippie” sensibility (if films like Barbarella  are any indication, it is perhaps greatest that the undertaking died).
On reflection, the comedic Three Musketeers seems the extra natural, as well as logical, selection for a third Beatles film challenge (though the bodily comedy the manufacturing would have demanded may need confirmed troublesome—or perhaps too pricey for insurance purposes—for them). But, since The Beatles had, by this time, outgrown the mop-top picture of their earlier movies and have been not curious about simply enjoying themselves, the movie was scrapped. (Richard Lester, who had directed the primary two Beatle movies, would go on to take pleasure in great success directing a collection of “Musketeer” films made in much the same vein because the one proposed to The Beatles.)
At this point it was obvious that The Beatles had no want to play such a homogenized filmic model of themselves. Certainly, to take action would have amounted to little greater than self-parody as well as resulted in cheapening the inventive achievements of their first two movies. The Beatles have been properly conscious of the cookie-cutter strategy to films that Elvis Presley had taken and have been adamant that they wouldn’t comply with the same path and continued to look for a bold, new film challenge that might complement their new musical directions and burgeoning particular person personalities.
Beatles three and Up Towards It
Consequently, Shenson continued his seek for a 3rd film for The Beatles conscious that they might more than possible reject something that remotely resembled their two earlier films. Actually, as Roy Carr recounts in The Beatles at the Films (New York: HarperPerennial, 1996), Shenson went as far as to announce in late 1966 that the Beatles subsequent film would function The Beatles enjoying not The Beatles however fairly “four characters who look, assume and speak like The Beatles however are [in fact] totally different characters.” “The only other standards,” Shenson elaborated, “can be that any new Beatles film would have to be modern. They don’t need to do a period story” (92). The script that efficiently met Shenson’s somewhat contradictory necessities was originally given the unoriginal title Beatles three then later modified to Shades of a Character. The movie was written by Owen Holder and was to be directed by Michelangelo Antonioni (the influential maker of Blow-Up ) as stalwart Lester was unavailable because of scheduling conflicts.
The somewhat weird and complicated plot of the brand new film was centered round a character (performed by considered one of The Beatles) who suffers from a three-way cut up character (three characters the remaining Beatles would portray). Sadly, further schedule conflicts and Shenson’s belief that the script wasn’t quite ok pressured a continued seek for a “high quality” author. Ultimately, based on Philip Norman in Shout!: The Beatles in Their Era (New York: Hearth, 1981), “a script was commissioned from Joe Orton, the young, working-class dramatist whose macabre comedies, Loot and Entertaining Mr. Sloane, had every been large West End successes” (278).
Orton usual Shades of a Character into Up Towards It by taking the original premise and mixing it together with his earlier (The Silver Bucket) and current tasks (The Vision of Gombold Proval). The script, as described by Orton himself in The Beatles on the Films, contained “political assassination, guerrilla warfare, and tranvestism” and referred to as for the group to “have been caught in-flagrant, develop into involved in dubious political activity, dressed as ladies, committed homicide, been put in jail, and dedicated adultery” (133). Orton completed his script at the end of February 1967. It was returned to him in early April with out rationalization.
It is straightforward to know why Orton’s script was rejected. The Beatles’ public image was still beneath the dogged management of manager Brian Epstein and Up Towards It will undoubtedly have harm that picture. Paul McCartney, in response to Carr, was more candid with the rationale The Beatles had rejected the script: “The rationale why we didn’t do Up Towards It wasn’t as a result of it was too far out or anything like that. We didn’t do it because it was homosexual. We weren’t homosexual and really that was all there was to it. It was fairly simple, really. Brian was gay, and so he and the homosexual crowd might respect it. Now, it wasn’t that we have been anti-gay—simply that we, The Beatles, weren’t homosexual” (135). Nevertheless, if The Beatles have been indeed involved in utterly shedding their mop-top picture, then maybe a venture akin to this might have been the right car. Or, perhaps it might have had the antagonistic effect, a la The Monkees try and shed their pre-fabricated picture with the surreal Head (1968).
The Search Continues…
It is extra doubtless that The Beatles had merely had sufficient of creating films and needed to give attention to their personal lives as well as their music. It was throughout this time that the Yellow Submarine animated challenge ultimately discovered momentum. This was a challenge The Beatles had initially agreed to believing it might fulfill their contractual obligation to United Artists. When it turned out that it might not, the band lost curiosity in the film. However the damaging response to their self-made Magical Thriller Tour and the constructive press Yellow Submarine garnered upon release shortly gained them over (it might seem that The Beatles might sometimes be as collectively picture acutely aware as their supervisor was).
Finally, the third film owed to United Artists would have to wait one other two years. The story of Up Towards It, nevertheless, ended tragically when it was discovered that Kenneth Halliwell, Orton’s lover, had savagely murdered the young playwright and then killed himself. In a weird coincidence, Brian Epstein additionally died nine days later and the seek for a third Beatles’ film challenge effectively ended.
The Beatles’ three-picture dedication to United Artists was finally met with the release of the documentary Let It Be in 1970. Sarcastically, the movie culled from footage shot for the aborted “Get Back” challenge achieved what that they had hoped a well-planned third movie would have and successfully destroyed The Beatles mythos and allowed them to grow as artists and people.
Unfortunately, the group had already disintegrated and broken up by then and the liberty they could have loved as The Beatles in subsequent movie tasks was by no means realized. Will probably be fascinating to see if the aforementioned collaboration between The Beatles and Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Sir Peter Jackson on the revitalization of the usually maligned “Let It Be” undertaking supplies a extra fitting remaining coda on the celluloid career of the band.
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