Okay, let’s get something square right now. The Beatles made four theatrical motion pictures during their time together. There was A Hard Day’s Night, there was Help!, there was Yellow Submarine and there was Let It Be. They also made Magical Mystery Tour, but that was for British television.
And as far as anyone’s concerned, those are the only motion pictures the Beatles ever made during their short time together.
But what if I told you … there was one more motion picture appearance?
No this is not April first.
And I say… take a look at this video clip.
Wow. You dig, Chick? I dig, Chuck.
So what might have happened here? According to the Pop History Dig website, the Beatles were popular enough in their initial American appearance to garner – if not a full-fledged filmed motion picture – at least a quickie weekend of closed-circuit motion picture simulcasts of their first American concert, which was held on February 11, 1964 in Washington, D.C.
So someone – apparently this company called National General Corporation – set up a closed-circuit broadcast over the weekend of March 14th-15th, 1964, where this footage could be shown on the big screen. Closed circuit broadcasts on movie screens were popular in the 1960’s, but were mostly used for boxing matches – the Washington Avenue Armory used to show Muhammad Ali’s closed-circuit prizefights, for example.
But this was the first time a rock concert was ever transmitted via the closed-circuit route, and the promoters of the film added some Los Angeles concert footage from the Beach Boys – and another batch of concert footage from Lesley Gore – to augment the Beatles’ performance.
Well now… if there was a closed-circuit Beatles concert performance on the weekend of March 14-15, 1964, then there’s only one question left for this blog to answer…
If this closed-circuit show played in Albany… what theater hosted it?
One quick trip to the Albany Public Library, a dive into the Times Union microfilms, and I had my answer.
As you can see on the left of this blog post, the Beatles’ closed-circuit concert played at the Palace Theater on March 14th and 15th. There were two shows on March 14th, at 12:00 noon and 2:30 p.m., while the Sunday telecast took place at 2:30 p.m. only. Tickets cost $2, and there were no reserved seats – get there while you can, essentially.
The Palace was also showing the Stanley Kubrick classic Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. This was part of a double feature with the film Night Encounter, advertised as “Secret Agents in a Nightmare Rendezvous of Love!” Oh, and there was free evening and Sunday parking for the Palace shows if you left your car at the Grand, the Minit-Man or the Bro-Clin parking lots.
Over at the Strand, advertised as “New York State’s Most Beautiful Theatre,” there was a double feature on the big screen – Bob Hope starring in the film A Global Affair, while the second feature starred Anthony Newley as a bookmaker trying to stay ahead of organized crime in The Small World of Sammy Lee.
Meanwhile, the Ritz – which for some reason was advertising itself as the “New Ritz” – had a comedy double feature, both starring Jack Lemmon. You could watch him with Shirley MacLaine in Irma La Douce, and then stick around and see him and Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot.
If your tastes were more geared toward mature films, the Leland Theater promised “Two Such Sensational Shockers, Never Before On One Screen!” The films? A West German imprint called For Love and Others, twinned with the late 50’s French film Girls of the Night.
Uptown, the Madison offered the Steve McQueen / Natalie Wood film Love with the Proper Stranger, on a double bill with the Dean Martin farce Who’s Been Sleeping in My Bed. Over the weekend, the Madison offered a collection of children’s cartoons, as well as a screening of the Tom Poston fantasy-comedy film Zotz!
Traveling further uptown brought you to the Hellman Theater, which had an exclusive showing of the film Tom Jones. And kids, this has nothing to do with the Welsh singer. Go get you a copy of a book by Henry Fielding and improve your mind.
Meanwhile, the Delaware was showing its third and final week of Elia Kazan’s film America America, the story of Kazan’s uncle and how he survived in Turkey as a Grecian minority.
Oh, and the Cinema Art Theater in Troy was in business in 1964; they had a double feature of Lord of the Flies and David and Lisa, which would make way next week for the film All the Way Home.
Temperatures were warming up for the Capital District’s drive-ins; you could enjoy a quadruple-feature horrorfest at the Turnpike Drive-In; arrive early and watch the Vincent Price-Debra Paget classic Haunted Palace, then stick around to see Barry Sullivan in Pyro: The Thing Without a Face, followed by Return of Dracula and, finally, Four for the Morgue.
Meanwhile, the Hollywood Drive-in promised a triple feature – start with the Susan Hayward film Stolen Hours, followed by Rock Hudson in Spiral Road, and have Jerry Lewis in Rock-A-Bye Baby as your capper. And if you clipped the newspaper ad and brought it with you to the drive-in, you received a free car heater to use for the night. Nice.
And at the RPI Fieldhouse? Naturally – Ice Capades.
So that’s what was playing in Albany when the Beatles first appeared on the Capital District’s movie screens. Wow.
My question would be….Where is this film now? It has to be somewhere considering it was filmed in Feb. and shown in Mar. I hope someone can answer that question.
The film exists on some bootleg DVD’s, and some of the concert footage was integrated into the Beatles Anthology documentary.
When the Beatles’ catalog was finally released on iTunes last year, if you purchased the Beatles’ boxed set through iTunes (at $149), you got the Washington DC concert as a bonus.
Wonderful post, Chuck!
National General also got into the movie-distribution business for a while toward the end of the 1960s. While its output included many less-than-memorable titles, it also encompassed Dustin Hoffman’s “Little Big Man,” Steve McQueen’s “The Getaway” and “Le Mans,” and one of my all-time guilty pleasures:
“With Six You Get Eggroll,” a pseudo-“Yours, Mine and Ours” that starred Doris Day, Brian Keith, my eternal crush Barbara Hershey (who just might get an Oscar nomination this year for “Black Swan”), and a then-bordering-on-wide-fame George Carlin as wisecracking (of course) car-hop “Herbie Fleck.”
Chuck – as a Beatles fan, love it!
Hey, Bobbin- Barbara Seagull’s MY eternal crush! http://www.rogerogreen.com/2009/06/04/cinderella-barbara-seagull-and-a-mama/
Speak of the Devil. Look at the link I just got on Facebook
Look at what I just got a link to on Facebook.
Nice pickup, Lwoodbluz!!
For those who are not aware, apparently a restored version of the Beatles / Beach Boys / Lesley Gore filmed concert will be shown in Los Angeles on February 11, 2011 at the Egyptian Theater. Whether it will be shown elsewhere remains to be seen.
Here’s a YouTube clip of the restored promotional video for the restored concert.
Sorry, Green … I may not have written about it previously, but my heart and mind defend its long-standing validity.
Addendum to comment #7, as an olive branch over OUR eternal crush:
“Last Summer” will help lead off Turner Classic Movies’ “31 Days of Oscar” festival overnight Tuesday, Feb. 1 into Wednesday, Feb. 2.
This closed circuit movie theater screening is news to me. If it played in St Louis, I guess it was before I started listening to KXOK.
Lesley Gore sounds bad on the short clip of her, like an amateur singing along to her own hit.
It’s an interesting trio of acts to put together. The brand new group who had just started to blow away the rock industry as it was, the old group who would accept the challenge to change and evolve, and the old star whose career would seen be snuffed out by the British Invasion.
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