85: Magical Mystery Tour – The Film

December 20, 2016

Podcast, Podcasting


The Beatles’ 1967 self-produced TV special/film has been pilloried from day one as their first critical disaster; a creative overreach that critics saw as proof of how lost they were when operating out of their element. But was it that bad? In this episode, Robert and Richard explain its production and contextualize decisions made that resulted in a finished product at odds with expectations. 

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    19 Responses to “85: Magical Mystery Tour – The Film”

    1. JasonL Says:

      Was it that bad?
      If we put it in the context of a long form music video, it might garner more respect. But it’s the incredibly long and boring “story” that makes it unwatchable. At 52 minutes, it’s about 37 minutes too long.


    2. Bill Says:

      There’s something utterly depressing about MMT the film; beyond the sense of wasted opportunity is this impenetrable aura of smugness and self-satisfaction which is really unbecoming of anyone, but especially a group that seemed so natural in every appearance they made. Even watching the two good music videos that emerge from these Le Brea tarpits, “I Am The Walrus” and “Your Mother Should Know,” feels undermined by everything else around it.


      • SylviaH Says:

        Well all I can say is that those who don’t like it are in the minority and it is now more popular than when it was released. It is a film that typifies the 60’s and if you are a looking for a film on the same wavelength as Help and Hard Day’s Night, then you will be disappointed.
        It is unique it it madcap weirdness and all topped with brilliant Beatles tracks. It was a gamble Paul took at the time and it was primarily a flop, but it has grown and is now almost a cult film among Beatle fans worldwide and I am one of them! I could be biased, but that could be because at 19 years old I was in it and experienced the fun making this film and am now writing a book about that experience. Was I ever bored in the making of it or watching it? Nah! Just very proud to be part of it!!


        • Bill Says:

          I look forward to reading your book, Sylvia! I can only say a movie like MMT may only be properly appreciated in book form!


    3. Michael Says:

      Is Rick Wey trying to say that George can’t even show his face regarding this movie? 😉


    4. Pablo Ramon Says:

      Well, based on this episode, it seems like there are exactly two elements of MMT worth your attention: 1. I Am The Walrus, and 2. Breasts.


    5. WingsJer Says:

      La Brea tar pits really??? As a second generation fan I love the remastering and the deluxe set that was issued by Apple 3 years ago. I love it. Sure the movie and plot is flimsy but the song “performances” or “videos” are amazing in my mind. I think all 4 were involved and engaged fully in this “movie”. Sure it was not the Beatles Christmas special everyone thought in 1967 it would be, but it remains my favorite Beatles group album and I enjoy the film now in 5.1 blu ray quality! Far from perfection but La Brea tar pits hardly!


      • Bill Says:

        At least tar pits produce natural gases and preserve wonders of nature in something approaching their original state. By comparing them to “Magical Mystery Tour,” I may have been too kind. All that preserves is the greatest band in the world looking hung over and out of gas.

        I was surprised to hear Robert and Richard enthuse a bit about George’s contributions. He seems to be completely disinterested from the video evidence, especially when he condescends to perform “Blue Jay Way” sitting on that blacktop looking like he’s waiting for Mal to bring him his tea and butties. It is great to hear him in that interview with the young woman, sounding alive and very much in the spirit of creating something worthwhile. None of that seemed to make it to the finished product, though.


        • WingsJer Says:

          Bill I need to check my blu ray copy and watch again……don’t see any of this. Late 1967 George was a fully engaged Beatle and that interview shows it.


        • Craig Davison Says:

          Is there any other (non-wizard) dialogue from George other than his monotone “thank you” during the Nicola scene? Liked his Blue Jay Way segment, otherwise he wears dark glasses and keeps his hands in his pockets throughout. My two cents and it’s probably not worth THAT. 😉


    6. BeatleDave Says:

      You can’t polish a turd ….


    7. Adam Smith Says:

      This was a great episode, I only wish it had been twice as long.


    8. Michael Says:

      Unfortunately this episode of ‘Something About the Beatles’ was posted in black and white so we missed out on some of the intended magic. Hopefully Richard and Robert can repost it in color. Heehee. 🙂


      • Pablo Ramon Says:

        Correction, it was posted in color. It’s just that all of our computers and phones are black and white.


    9. Dom Says:

      A chap I used to know – who has since died – appeared in this film but, frustratingly, he could barely remember anything about it apart from recalling that he “marched around a bit” playing a musical instrument. He was in an army band, Irish Guards I think, and his band appeared in it briefly. He was also in The Ipcress File – in the bandstand scene – and again was very nonchalant about that too.

      Strangely being in two 60s cult films didn’t really cut any ice with him and he was very flippant about both movies.


    10. Marshall Says:

      You nailed it: had the Beatles recorded for 10 more years like the Stones, MMT (the film) would have been merely a trippy curio in their catalog. McCartney wanted to do some sort of art-house flick quick and dirty. Unfortunately, he was way out of his league. It’s the “Satanic Majesty’s Request” of their work.

      It is indeed a shame what they didn’t film (Paul at the Tavern, John ripping down signs from the bus). However, that was a different approach to film making unlike the reality television of today in which everything is captured (don’t need to pay for film).


      • Simon Says:

        People talk about what was not filmed Paul doing this and John doing that. Are you sure this was not filmed? Remember 10 hours of filming was done that has not been used -Who knows whats on those film rolls. I personaly know several takes that I was involved in have not been shown yet.Then the famous Spaghetti scene-was originaly to be done differently. Lets see what comes out in a few months to top the Deluxe Box.One cannot bring such a box out for the 45th anniversary and then nothing for the 50th-I think not.


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