The Beatles: Get Back Reissues Set the Stage for Mop Top Comedy

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One of the supplemental releases to herald the documentary event is the first official Beatles book since The Beatles Anthology in 2000. Apple Corps’ 240-page hardcover standalone companion book The Beatles: Get Back transcribes the conversations which will go into the documentary. Between the book and the most recent trailer released from Disney+, it is obvious that Jackson found the funny. We will also feel the friction in the band which Lindsay-Hoog captured when he thought he was recording the band rehearse music for a TV special. But Jackson’s structure recalls a mop top madcap movie history. If he could make cannibalism funny, as Jackson did in Bad Taste, he can spin what Lennon called “the shittiest load of badly recorded shit with a lousy feeling to it ever” into an amusing shade of gold.

You can see the promo for the book here:

Jackson structures the almost 60 hours of raw footage into a race-against-the-clock story. This was basically the same premise as the first two Beatles films. They had to get Ringo into a TV studio in time for a live performance in A Hard Day’s Night, and they had to meet record company demands while running from a Kali cult with a finger fetish in Help!. Both films had great comic leads, and promoted group unity. “We’re a community, majority vote, up the workers and all that stuff,” McCartney declares in A Hard Day’s Night. “Let’s go back and get ‘em, eh,” Lennon rallies the group in Help!. “I think I burnt me finger,” Harrison realizes in Yellow Submarine.

“The best bit of us always has been, and always will be, when our backs against the wall,” McCartney enthuses in the trailer for The Beatles: Get Back before asking how many songs the band has ready. “None,” Lennon deadpans.

When McCartney proposes his song “I’ve Got a Feeling,” Lennon responds, “Well, I’ve got a hard-on,” before adding it to the mix, singing “Everybody had a hard-on.” To which McCartney adds “Except for me and my monkey.” For a bass player, Paul really knows how to cut the treacle. At one point John says their collaboration isn’t merely vocally harmonic, “It’s like you and me are lovers.” Before McCartney reminds him “I’ll be wearing my skirt on the show anyway.” When Harrison asks for a rhyme to fit a couplet in his song “Something,” Lennon throws out “Attracts me like a cauliflower.”

Like the best of melodies, a good story benefits from dissonance. The transcripts show how the film adds dramatic counterpoint. A frustrated Harrison quits the band, providing the tension of a slowhand cliffhanger, as Lennon says “If he doesn’t come back by Tuesday, we get Clapton.” Harrison comes back when the Beatles move sessions from the grim Twickenham Studios to Apple Studios. He brings along Billy Preston, and about a third of the songs which would wind up on All Things Must Pass.

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