It was 30 years ago today, sadly

Today is the thirtieth anniversary of the murder of John Lennon. It was a bummer at the time and it’s depressing even now. In any case, it’s an opportune time to present a clip of Lennon and his little back-up band performing one of his most underrated songs.

Keeping up my Bob Dylan theme from yesterday, it’s worth noting that this was famously Lennon’s effort at writing a Dylan song. Of course, it came out a Lennon song, but that’s kind of the point.

Also, I never fail to marvel at how well these musical sequences from 1965’s “Help” — a movie that on the whole didn’t hang together at all well — were shot by the great director, Richard Lester. It’s a just about perfect sequence in my view. Coincidentally, MUBI pointed the way to this Look Magazine interview from the set of Lennon’s one and only solo starring role, also with Lester, “How I Won the War” from 1967. It was obviously hot on the heels of the “bigger than Jesus” craziness, so there’s the inevitable discussion of religion and spirituality.

Perhaps Leonard Gross thought he was just penning the usual cliches we writers write about controversial and talented creators when he wrote the following. Still, his wrap-up turned out to be a lot more right than he probably realized.

The hysteria that surrounds him can no longer disguise the presence of a mind. His ideas are still rough, but his instincts are good and his talent, extraordinary. You may love him, you may loath him, but this you should know: As performer, composer, writer or talker, he’ll be around for a long, long time.


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Director Richard Lester invents the rock video

Figuring out a more natural way to present the playing of music with an assist from the French New Wave directors in “A Hard Day’s Night.”

Moving from enormous charm to more visual sophistication and a new color palette in “Help!

It’s important, of course, to acknowledge the contribution to these scenes of two great cinematographers, Gilbert Taylor and David Watkin. The Beatles were also kind of helpful.


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