In The Beatles’ second film, Help!, the characters of the band members are split. The role of John Lennon is played by a West Country gentleman, a “modern young man”, and an aristocrat who plays a contemporary violin, while Paul McCartney’s character is “a working-class lad with a guitar” – but George Harrison’s is a “funky sex symbol” who plays a Ravi Shankar sitar. The character of Ringo Starr (not in the novels) is portrayed as “a lovable, simple-minded fellow”. The idea for The Beatles to play themselves was suggested by director Richard Lester when they were filming A Hard Day’s Night; their records had just hit number one in America, making The Beatles internationally famous. Lennon thought The Beatles “looked stupid” playing themselves, but Harrison remembered that they all felt it was “a good idea to do something different”, so they agreed. The film begins with The Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein arriving at London Airport and catching a taxi to The Beatles’ hideaway, The Cloisters. The Beatles are waiting for him in the lounge with their luggage and a furious Ringo, who is angry at having to hide away from fans. The band have been instructed by Epstein to stay “in character” at all times whilst being filmed, so they go through the previous day’s events, which are very much out of character. The film contrasts The Beatles’ public and private lives. The Beatles are constantly followed by screaming girls, who even turn up in the middle of a session at a recording studio.
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