A faux documentary of a typical day in the life of the Fab Four, Richard Lester's A Hard Day's Night captures Beatlemania in full force as our heroes prepare for a television appearance. With Paul's grandfather (Wilfrid Brambell), a "very clean" old mixer, causing trouble along the way, they escape hordes of screaming girls, visit a nightclub, and bust Ringo out of jail, while occasionally taking time to perform one of their new songs, of course. It is, from beginning to end, a delightful lark.
Our intrepid heroes play themselves (or at very least versions of themselves as presented by screenwriter Alun Owen) as four boys who want nothing more than to enjoy life. While everyone else around them is focused on the task at hand, the Fab Four are more interested in hitting on girls, playing cards on a train, and goofing off in a field when they're supposed to be preparing for the show. They seem unconcerned with mundane tasks like answering fan mail or rehearsing and show little regard for how they're perceived by the world at large.
There's a memorable scene where George Harrison, having been mistaken for a member of a focus group, willingly sits down and gives his opinion on some shirts and the model for some fashion line. He doesn't bother to tell them who he is and they fail to notice. It's one of the film's delightful quirks that they are either mobbed by screaming fans or go completely unnoticed. But these people in the fashion industry never realize they are talking to one of the most famous people in the entire country, and since his opinion doesn't mesh with their market research, they dismiss it out of hand as the work of a troublemaker.
What's perhaps most remarkable about A Hard Day's Night is just how comfortable the Beatles are in front of a camera. With the influx of MTV and VH1 and the like, we tend to forget that in 1964, it was a rare thing for a musician to be on TV and rarer still for them to appear in any capacity other than a performance. So for all four of them to come off so well in an actual film where they are required to act is no small feat. But even beyond that, they are not just passable, they're actually good. Better, in fact, than some real actors.