Limelight's Music on Film series attempts to pack most everything an interested reader would like to know about a single film associated with music into a convenient pocket sized book. The little books are not aimed at scholars. They do include bibliographical information, but they do not document sources either in the text or in end notes. They are equally interested in the celebrity gossip and the facts about the production. This is a series by and large meant for the general audience.
Joining his earlier study of Amadeus is author Ray Morton's look at the 1964 Beatles classic A Hard Day's Night. Essentially, the book's main point seems to be that director Richard Lester and the Beatles managed to produce a masterpiece despite low expectations from the studio and the business people who greenlighted the project. United Artists decided to back a film with the band on the theory that they could profit from a cast album even though they thought the band wasn't successful enough to make the actual film profitable. They engaged Lester as director and Walter Shenson to produce with the understanding that they come up with a film that was cheap and quick. They wanted to make sure it came to theaters before the band's novelty flamed out.
What screenwriter Alun Owen, Lester, and the team he and Shenson assembled came up with was an innovative film that in many ways changed the whole concept of the rock-music-movie model forever and had a lasting effect on the way those films are still done today. The fact that the Beatles were now going to make their American splash with their appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show more than likely would have made whatever they came up with a success; that they came up with a work of genius was gravy.
Morton talks about the band's beginnings and the early personnel changes. He deals with the early successes and then he gets to the actual film. There is a chapter about the initial idea for a movie and its implementation. He explains how the idea of a fictionalized documentary based on the Beatles' actual claustrophobic life escaping from the teenage mobs that haunted their every move came about. He describes the creative team and how they came on board. He talks about the music, how it was chosen, and how it was used in the film. Then he gives a blow by blow analysis of the nearly two months of shooting, some insight into the post production, and a short discussion of its critical reception.