A Hard Day's Night: 50th Anniversary Restoration review

Made at the height of Beatlemania, Richard Lester's comedic pseudo-documentary follows the Fab Four as they head to London to record a performance. Along for the ride is Paul's grandfather John (Wilfrid Brambell), whose antics turn the members of the band against one another and throw the entire production into chaos.

One of the most influential musical movies ever made, A Hard Day's Night is an anarchic blast of air that revitalised the genre with a kinetic, quick-cutting style that lends it all an improvisational feel. And at the heart of it all are John, Paul, George and Ringo, effortlessly transferring their 'cheeky-chap' personas to the big screen and performing a medley of chart-topping hits. Simply brilliant.

Picture: This Blu-ray derives from a brand-new 4K restoration and looks every bit as spectacular as you would expect. Contrast and clarity in the black-and-white 1.75:1 1080p image are faultless, and dirt and print damage are noticeable by their absence.

Fine detailing also impresses, particularly in close-ups, and the restoration team has resisted any urge to push things further with egregious digital sharpening. Add to this the refined nature of the native film grain and you're left with a pleasingly organic hi-def presentation.
Picture rating: 5/5

Audio: The disc gives Beatles fans the choice of three audio options. There's a restored LPCM version of the original mono mix for purists, an LPCM stereo presentation for those who want to open the music sequences up a little without losing the feel of the original mix, and a new DTS-HD MA 5.1 version mixed by Apple Records. Whichever of the three takes your fancy, you're sure to be delighted with the results.

The two LPCM tracks are immaculate, with excellent balance throughout and surprisingly potent dynamics during the musical numbers. The new 5.1 track is altogether richer and more expansive, with significantly greater depth and nuance in both the dialogue and foot-tapping tunes.
Audio rating: 4.5/5

Extras: Cementing it's position as the definitive UK release of this classic film, Second Sight's Blu-ray is packed with bonus goodies.

In Their Own Voices (18 minutes) features contemporaneous audio interviews with The Beatles about the flick, which play over a gallery of behind-the-scenes photography. You Can't Do That! The Making of A Hard Day's Night (62 minutes) is a lengthy retrospective 1995 documentary narrated by Phil Collins. The 2002 documentary Things They Said Today (36 minutes) continues in a similar vein, but focuses on the film's production history and success.

Picturewise (27 minutes) looks at Richard Lester's directorial traits. Anatomy of a Style (17 minutes) explores the innovative editing of the film's music sequences. The Beatles: The Road to A Hard Day's Night (28 minutes) discusses the band itself and its impact on the music business.

Rounding things out are an enjoyable audio commentary featuring input from 14 members of the film's crew and supporting cast, plus a 50th Anniversary trailer. Goo goo goo joob!
Extras rating: 4.5/5

We say: A sensational Blu-ray package for this fab(four)ulous film. Unmissable!

A Hard Day’s Night: 50th Anniversary Restoration, Second Sight, Region B BD, £25 Approx