Help! (1965)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 12/21/09
Director: Richard Lester
Cast: Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Eleanor Bron

After the success of "A Hard Day's Night" (1964), The Beatles got a chance to star in another film with a bigger budget. This time around, Ringo is targeted by a religious cult because he's wearing a sacred sacrificial ring. Unfortunately for him, the ring is stuck to his finger and he can't get it off. This leads to numerous attempts on his life by the religious fanatics as well as a mad scientist who wants the ring for world domination. Ringo's bandmates are also in mortal danger simply because of their proximity, which makes them consider kicking him out of the band (or simply cutting his finger off). But the situation isn't completely hopeless. Ringo has an ally of sorts in the cult's high priestess (Eleanor Bron), who behaves like a secret agent with a hidden agenda. The Beatles also go to Scotland Yard for protection and ultimately end up getting chased around the globe.

The film is very zany and reflects a lot of wacky pop sensibilities from the 1960's. It blatantly spoofs James Bond and could even be considered a forerunner to Adam West's "Batman" and even "Monty Python's Flying Circus." The film is well made and looks great, and even though it doesn't make any sense at all, it doesn't really matter because the music is great and everyone is having such a good time. That's probably because The Beatles were admittedly stoned out of their minds during the entire production. The way the band are characterized as unique personalities is brilliant, and really helps you identify with them (even as goofy as they are). Their dry, self effacing humor makes them even that much more charming. This film was clearly the blueprint for "Spice World" (1997), which succeeded on the same level of celebrity wackiness. Definitely a fun and funny film that both celebrated and mocked the times. It's a shame that it was followed by the truly awful "Magical Mystery Tour" a couple of years later.