It's just an ordinary day and a half in the life for John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr: A train and a room and a car and a room and a room and a room; interviews and rehearsals and performances. It's slightly more unusual than most ordinary days, though, because Paul is supposed to be keeping an eye on his "very clean" grandfather, a "king mixer."note But since when have the Beatles, off-stage, done what they were supposed to do?
Released during the pinnacle of Beatlemania in 1964, the film has become a Cult Classic due to its many innovations in cinematography (notably the invention of the hand held camera shot and its use of the birds eye view shots during the "Can't Buy Me Love" sequence). Because of these innovations, it was included on Time Magazine's 2005 list of their 100 Timeless and Essential Movies.
It was directed by Richard Lester, who did a lot of surreal comedy (he'd previously worked on film adaptations of The Goon Show), some of which is seen in this film. Paul's grandfather was played by Wilfrid Brambell, a veteran of British TV of the era. The screenwriter was Alun Owen. Owen spent a week with the group to write the right script, and was nominated for an Oscar. However, if you want to find out what's scripted and what's improvised, his original screenplay has been published and is still in print.
The Beatles later did four more movies: Help!, Magical Mystery Tour (though that one ended up a Made-for-TV Movie), the cartoon Yellow Submarine (although it was more a case of Not Quite Starring), and the actual documentary Let It Be.
This film's Cult Soundtrack has also been praised as one of the band's best. The album cover has become iconic and songs like "A Hard Day's Night," "And I Love Her," and "Can't Buy Me Love" became Top 5 hits. "Things We Said Today" has also gained classic status over the decades. The soundtrack album has its own entry.
- Actor Allusion: Paul's grandfather is frequently referred to as "clean" because the actor, Wilfrid Brambell, played a "dirty old man" in Steptoe and Son (which begat the American version Sanford and Son). These jokes would often go over American fans' heads, but British audiences would've gotten the references immediately.
- Adorkable: Ringo, particularly when he gallantly lets a lady walk over his coat and right into a sinkhole.
- Aerith and Bob:
- The Beatles' managers are Norm and Shake.
- John, Paul, George, and Ringo.
- All of the Other Reindeer: Much of the conflict in this film comes from ambiguously-motivated teasing of Ringo, and his reactions to it. Initially subverted, as Ringo takes it all in good humor, then double-subverted as he gets tired of it. That simmering dissatisfaction is what Paul's Grandfather ends up exploiting.
- Aluminum Christmas Trees: During the opening sequence, The Beatles are shown running from fans at the train station. Well, except for Paul, who's disguised himself by wearing a phony beard. In the early years of Beatlemania, the Beatles really wore disguises in public to avoid being seen. Even better, the scene really is of the band running from fans, which just happened to be caught on film.
- Always Camp: Simon Marshall is equal parts camp and uptight TV producer. He and his crew mistake George as the new spokesperson for a line of men's shirts which Simon instructs George to call "gear and fab and all the other pimply hyperboles." When George calls them "grotesque" and then calls resident teenager Susan Campey a drag ("We turn the sound down and say rude things"), Simon flips.
- And the Adventure Continues: The movie ends with the Beatles heading to another concert.
- Antagonist in Mourning: For all the time John actively invests in making his job hell, Norm seems quite devastated when he believes he's just let him run down the drain with the bath water. (Those "hints of surreal humor" we mentioned earlier? Good example, here.)
- As Himself: Well, of course.
- Ask a Stupid Question...: ...And George will answer "Arthur."Reporter: How did you find America?John: Turn left at Greenland.
- Awkwardly Placed Bathtub: More like awkwardly placed people, really. The bathtub is actually in the bathroom, but for some reason George and Shaker have decided to hang out there, too.
- Baths Are Fun: John is playing with submarines while taking a bubble bath.
- Bath Suicide: John lampoons this while playing with submarines in the bathtub. His British submarine gets "hit," and he sinks into the water, pretending to die.George: Torpedoed again.
- Berserk Button: Don't touch Ringo's drums.Ringo You so much as breathe heavy on 'em, and I'm out on strike!
- Big Heroic Run: Complete with a Theme Music Power-Up in the form of a reprise of "Can't Buy Me Love."
- Blunt "Yes": George's response in an interview:Reporter: Has success changed your life?George: Yes.
- Breach of Promise of Marriage: Referenced in, of all places, this film, where Paul describes his grandfather (the clean old man) as a "villain, a real mixer, who'll cost you a fortune in breach of promise cases".
- Buxom Is Better: Paul's grandfather certainly thinks so. When Margaret Nolan's Gambler Groupie leans over his shoulder and shows off her cleavage, he grins lecherously and says: "I bet you're a great swimmer."
- Call-Back: John insults Norm by saying: "You're a swine." At the very end of the movie when John complains about having to play another gig, Norm tells John (in a fake Liverpool accent) "You're a swine."
- Chick Magnet: Played for laughs near the beginning of the film.
- Closet Shuffle: Someone hides in the closet at one point, discovered by Ringo.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Ringo, possibly. Plus that scene with John in the bathtub.
- Comically Missing the Point: When Ringo is sitting under a hairdryer wearing a bizarre wig, and incidentally reading a magazine:John: Ringo, what are you up to?Ringo: Page five.
- Cool Old Guy: Paul's mischief making grandfather, probably meant to show that older folks could enjoy Beatle fun too.
- The Cuckoolander Was Right: When Ringo tries to tell the others that there's a man in the cupboard, John and Paul laugh him off. Only George is wise enough to check and, sure enough, there is.George: *Lights a cigarette* He's right, you know.
- Dance Party Ending: A variant appears in the form of an extended Beatles concert at the end.
- Dancing Is Serious Business: "I'm Happy Just to Dance with You."
- Dancing on a Bus: The Beatles sing "I Should Have Known Better" in a baggage car on a train.
- Day in the Life: The Beatles, on tour.
- Deadpan Snarker: All four Beatles were masters of the craft. Quite a few quips were adlibbed or taken from real events.
John: He can talk then, can he?
- Particular mention should go to George's completely straight faced answer to "What do you call that haircut?" "Arthur."
- After John manages to coax a sour "'ello" out of Paul's grandfather:
Paul: Of course he can talk, he's a human being, isn't he?
Ringo: Well, if he's your grandfather, who knows, ahahaha.
John: Knock it off, Paul, you can't win with his sort. After all, it's his train, isn't it, Mister?
- John and Ringo get cheeky with a snobbish man who doesn't want the windows opened or the radio turned on:
Man on train: Don't take that tone with me, young man. I fought the war for your sort.Ringo: I'll bet you're sorry you won.
- Department of Redundancy Department: Paul's Grandfather complains about travelling this way:"So far, I've been in a train and a room, a car and a room, and a room and a room!"
- Description Cut: "It'll be wine, women and song once Ringo gets the taste of it." Cut to Ringo wincing as he's eating a sandwich in a pub somewhere.
- Diegetic Switch: The Beatles play cards in an isolated part of the train while schoolgirls watch them. "I Should Have Known Better" begins to play, and as the singing is heard, Paul starts lip-synching. Next thing you see are the Beatles already playing with their instruments to the rest of the song until their card game's over.
- Digital Destruction: The film has gone through at least two of these:
- The first was more Analog Destruction as it happened in 1982, back when film restoration was a new idea. Universal wanted to spruce the film up for a U.S. theatrical re-release that year, and those handling the transfer elected to convert the entire soundtrack to stereo on the theory that stereo is better than mono. (Modern fans of The Beatles strongly disagree, but the fandom was still redeveloping back then.) To cap it off, the restorers then threw out the original soundtrack, making a legit restoration impossible.
- There were then two further attempts to restore the film, in 1996 and 2001. The 2001 restoration by Miramax deliberately tried to "improve" on the theatrical release. While the use of a modern theatrical aspect is understandable (the film did briefly air in modern theaters), they could've made the original aspect available on the DVD. It used the controversial 5.1 speech/mono song soundtrack (by this time, stereo would've been the best quality possible due to the 1982 restoration). And while we can't be sure that 2001's picture is less faithful than 1996's (if we could, then we wouldn't need film restoration as much), it's clear that they're using different greyscale keys. The 1996 edition frequently has what looks like light reflecting off smoke in the air (which may or may not have been in the original); the 2001 edition removes that and deliberately goes for chiaroscuro.
- Thankfully, The Criterion Collection came to the rescue in 2014, releasing a 4K restoration approved by director Richard Lester on both DVD and Blu-ray. Not only did the release restore the film's original aspect ratio, it also contained a mono soundtrack.
- Dirty Old Man: Paul's grandfather, despite everyone calling him "clean." When he's first seen in the opening montage, he's looking at a nudie magazine."He'll cost you a fortune in breach of promise cases."
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: The boy at the riverside. Pay close attention as he describes his three best friends...
- The Eeyore: Ringo, who is mopey and depressed through much of the film, in contrast with his more antic bandmates.
- Escalating Chase: Near the end we get a chase scene involving all the Beatles, London bobbies, Paul's grandfather, and the Beatles' managers.
- Establishing Character Moment: John, George, and Ringo are introduced running for their lives from the fans. They are further established, along with Paul's grandfather, in the first train scenes.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Paul's Grandfather full name is John McCartney, but virtually everybody refers to him as just "Paul's Grandfather".
- Everyone Chasing You: The famous opening where The Beatles get chased by their fans.
- Fake Shemp: For John during "Can't Buy Me Love." He was off promoting his book In His Own Write during production, so that's why you don't see him much during the sequence. Also, those are Richard Lester's legs you see instead of Paul's on the fire escape stairs — Paul was too hungover to participate.
- Fighting Irish: Paul's grandfather speaks with an Irish accent and is very feisty. He even spouts off a bit of Republican propaganda when he gets taken into the police station.
- The Film of the Song
- Finish Dialogue in Unison: When Paul brings his grandfather along on a train trip, John asks "Hey, pardon me for asking, but who's that little old man?" Then later on, their road manager asks the same, then still later their manager asks, and they all chime in in unison.
- Flanderization: All the Beatles play Flanderized versions of their real life personalities.
- Floating Head Syndrome: Even in some 1964 posters.
- Follow That Car: A man trying to steal a car is forced to drive a police officer during a chase scene. The cop doesn't realize he's in a stolen car.
- The Gadfly: George admits he and the other Beatles are this in regards to a popular model of fashion designer Simon Marshall, recalling one incident where they wrote letters giving her false praise then, later that night, poking fun at her when she appeared on a television program.
- Gag Nose: Ringo is ribbed by the others about his nose. Paul's grandpa shows his talent for divisiveness.Grandpa: Now now, Paulie, you musn't mock the afflicted.
Paul: Aw, come on, it's only a joke!
Grandpa: Aye, it may be a joke to you, but it's his nose. He can't help havin' such a hideous great hooter. And his poor neck, tremblin' under the weight!
- Gambler Groupies: The gorgeous woman (Margaret Nolan) who attaches herself to Paul's grandfather at the casino.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar:
John: [whilst claiming to be an escaped prisoner] I bet you can't guess what I was in for!
- John "snorting" his unopened bottle of Pepsi.
- During the press conference, a female reporter asks John "Have you any hobbies?" John grabs her notepad, writes a four letter word, the last two letters of which are obviously TS, and then shows it to the reporter, whose jaw drops upon reading it. note The woman standing behind the reporter just laughs.
- In the same press conference scene, Ringo is asked: "How do you like your girlfriends to dress?" He considers the question for a moment before chuckling to himself.
- Gratuitous French: To mark Le Cercle Club as a classy gambling establishment, the croupier and waiter speak French instead of English. Grandad McCartney, however, can't speak the language at all, so he answers the croupier's question of "Alors, monsieur?" ("[Well] then, sir?") with "Soufflé!" (an egg-based baked dish for which English simply borrows the French word), and answers the waiter's question "Encore de champagne, monsieur?" ("More champagne, sir?") with "Oh yeah, and I'll have some more champagne as well!" He also repeatedly says "Bingo!" instead of the baccarat term "Banco" (for "banker", "Punto" referring to the player).
- Groupie Brigade: Of note, one of the schoolgirls on the train is Pattie Boyd, who would later become George Harrison's wife (and later the wife of Harrison's best friend Eric Clapton, who wrote "Layla" about her).
- Height Angst:
- Norm, the Beatles' manager, complains constantly about Shake's height.Norm: Stop being taller than me!Shake: It's not my fault...
- Ringo thinks this is one reason he gets picked on.George: What's the matter with you, then?Ringo: It's [Paul's] grandfather. I can tell he doesn't like me. It's cause I'm little.George: Ah, you've got an inferiority complex, you have.Ringo: Yeah, I know, that's why I play the drums — it's me active compensatory factor.
- Norm, the Beatles' manager, complains constantly about Shake's height.
- Hitler Cam: Used to frame John Lennon during the performance of "If I Fell."
- Holy Backlight: Two instances. In the first "Can't Buy Me Love" when The Beatles first break out of the TV studio and into the field, they get backlit by the sun as they clamber downstairs. And Paul gets this for a second or two, via a stage light, near the end of the "And I Love Her" segment... What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?
- Homemade Sweater from Hell: Worn by the Television Director (which actually belonged to the actor and was not a costume). The Beatles comment on how ridiculous he looks in it.John: I bet he hasn't got a wife. Look at his sweater.Paul: You never know. She might've knitted it.John: She knitted him.
- Hypocritical Humor: Norm smokes a cigar while standing right next to a no smoking sign.
- Identity Denial: John has the following dialogue with a random girl:Millie: Oh, wait a minute, don't tell me, you are...John: No, I'm not.Millie: Oh, you are.John: I'm not.Millie: Oh, you are, I know you are.John: I'm not, no.Millie: You look just like him.John: Do I? You're the first one that's said that ever.Millie: [motions to the mirror] Yes, you do. Look.John: No, my eyes are lighter. The nose.Millie: Oh, your nose is very.John: Is it?Millie: I would have said so.John: Oh, you know him better, though.Millie: I do not! He's only a casual acquaintance.John: That's what you say.Millie: What have you heard?John: [leans in, lowers his voice] It's all over the place.Millie: Is it? Is it really?John: Mmm, but I wouldn't have it. I stuck up for you.Millie: I knew I could rely on you.John: Thanks.Millie: ]puts on her glasses] You don't look like him at all.[John walks away, pouting]John: [to himself] She looks more like him than I do.
- I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder:Ringo: I'm a drummer, not a wet nurse!
- Instrumentals: Throughout the film, instrumental renditions of "I Should Have Known Better," "And I Love Her," and "This Boy" can be heard.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: John Lennon, as in real life. He may constantly slight Ringo, but "If I Fell" shows him attempting —successfully — to break him out of his gloom. Paul and George, to a lesser extent.
- Jerkass Has a Point:
- When Paul's Grandfather complains about being "In a train and a room, a car and a room, and a room and a room!" one of the make-up artists nods in agreement, saying "What a clean old man!"
- The man on the train isn't exactly wrong to be bothered by the Beatles playing loud music or the breeze from the open window; the problem is that he acts like a high-handed, pompous and entitled little dictator who seems to believe that the fact that he "rides this train regularly — twice a week!" means that he's in charge of both the compartment and his fellow commuters.
- Jukebox Musical: The film's soundtrack consists of original Beatle songs either performed (in pre-recorded form) by the Beatles or arranged for orchestra by their recording producer, George Martin.
- Kensington Gore: Played with in a canteen scene: an actor uses ketchup first on his food and then on his "wound."
- Leitmotif: "Ringo's Theme (This Boy)". It's actually just an instrumental version of the song "This Boy," but it nicely captures the melancholy of Ringo's 10-Minute Retirement in the film.
- Lens Flare: During "And I Love Her," as the camera turns to Paul's silhouette in a stagelight.note
- Life Embellished: The routine of The Beatles, only with a few bits of absurdity kept it from being a Journal Film.
- Literal Metaphor: When Ringo decides to leave the group to have some time to himself.Paul: He can't just walk out on us like this!
John: Can't he? He's done it, son!
- Magic Realism: The scene where the Beatles appear outside the train, chasing it along. The scene where John somehow disappears down a bathtub drain. And, during the police chase montage, John leads the pack out of the station... Only to also somehow bring up the rear.
- Mathematician's Answer: When The Beatles are being interviewed, many of their answers are like this:Reporter 1: Tell me, um, how did you find America?John Lennon: Turned left at Greenland.Reporter 2: Has success changed your life?George Harrison: Yes.Reporter 3: Do you think these haircuts have come to stay?Ringo Starr: Well this one has, y'know, stuck on good and proper now.Reporter 4: What do you call that hairstyle you're wearing?George: Arthur.Reporter 3: What do you call that collar?Ringo: Mmm... A collar.
- Metaphorgotten: John does a visual gag where he pretends to snort a bottle of soda pop, as in "snorting coke" but it's a bottle of Pepsi!
- Mistaken for an Imposter: Ringo at the police station.
Millie: Hello! Oh, wait a minute! Don't tell me who you are...
- There's also John and Millie (the stage hand):
John: No, I'm not.
Millie: Oh, you are.
John: I'm not.
Millie: Oh, you are, I know you are.
John: I'm not, no.
Millie: You look just like him.
John: Do I? You're the first one that's said that, ever. (and so on)
George: I'm terribly sorry, but there seems to be some sort of misunderstanding.
- And then there's George at the fashion studio:
Simon Marshall: Oh, you can come off it with us. You don't have to do the old adenoidal glottal stop and carry on for our benefit.
George: I'm afraid I don't understand...
Simon Marshall: Oh, my God, he's a natural!
Secretary: Well, I did tell them not to send us real ones.
Simon Marshall: They ought to know by now that the phonies are much easier to handle.
- Mistaken for Servant: Exploited. As Paul's grandfather is gambling at the Le Cercle club, he runs out of money. So he writes a "tab" on a piece of paper, puts on a plate, places a napkin on his arm (he's already wearing a very waiter-ish suit, "borrowed" from a room service man at his hotel) and walks over to a patron, who pays him. He then uses the money to get back in the game.
- Ms. Fanservice: Margaret Nolan played the bosomy woman in the low-cut dress draped all over Paul's grandfather at the casino.
- Music Stories
- Newspaper-Thin Disguise: Used by Paul, along with a fake beard, to hide from fans in the opening credits sequence.
- Nice Hat: John wears a Nice Hat (a cap, really) for much of the film. It's nice enough that some copies of his book In His Own Write have pictures of him in that hat.
- Nice, Mean, and In-Between: The three other Beatles towards Ringo, George (nice), John (mean), and Paul (in-between).
- Non-Actor Vehicle: For the Beatles. One of the few times where it turned out well.
- Noodle Incident: "But when I plugged her in, she just blew up."
- Nostalgia Filter: "Things We Said Today."
- Not Actually the Ultimate Question:Reporter: [to John] How did you find America?
John: Turn left at Greenland.
- Not Using the "Z" Word: The word "Beatles" is never mentioned in dialogue. However, "The Beatles" is clearly visible on Ringo's bass drumhead and on the helicopter in the final scene.
- Oh, Crap!:
- Ringo's reaction after he accidentally causes the lady he's helping to fall into a sinkhole.
- The TV Director's reaction when Paul's Grandfather ascends through the stage floor in the middle of the taping of "She Loves You." The incident probably revived the Director's fear that he would be banished to directing "the news in Welsh for life" after all.
- Off the Rails: Paul's Grandfather is sitting atop a freight elevator under the set of a German operetta forging Beatle autographs when he hears Norm coming. He quickly stands up, but inadvertently activates the elevator and interrupts the performance to the annoyance of the director. He does it again towards the end, during the Beatles' concert while playing "She Loves You," though this time, Paul just pushes him offstage.
- Offscreen Teleportation: "Hey, mister! Mister! Can we have our ball back?"
- One Steve Limit: Averted. Paul's Grandfather's actual name is John McCartney, but everybody calls him "Paul's Grandfather" to avoid confusion with John Lennon.
- Oop North: Ringo skips out of the studio to roam London on his own - when a policeman shouts at him for hurling a brick in the river he shouts back "Southerner!". Meanwhile the band's manager frets on Ringo's potential misdeeds, what with his being "released on the unsuspecting South".
- Orbital Shot: Done during the "Can't Buy Me Love" sequence when the Beatles break out of the studio.
- Paparazzi: The film deals with this during the press conference scene. At one point, a photographer fills a reel of film with George Harrison making faces into the camera.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Paul is seen wearing a fake beard with goatee during the opening sequence.
- A Party, Also Known as an Orgy: The Beatles, confined to their hotel suite, discover Paul's grandfather has borrowed an old waiter's formal clothes and gone out to a gambling club. Paul, anxious about it, concludes "He's probably in the middle of some orgy by now!" They all react with excitement at the idea and rush out to find him.Old Waiter: Wait, what about me?John: You're too old.
- Performance Video: Much of this film qualifies. The entire film is probably the Ur-Example of Music Video Tropes.
- Phrase Catcher: "He's very clean."
- During the first scene in the train car, the question "Who's that little old man?" is asked enough that when someone opens his mouth to say it, all four of the boys beat him to it.
- Playing Gertrude: Wilfrid Brambell was only thirty years older than Paul despite playing his grandfather.
- The Power of Love: Most of the songs refer to it.
- Puddle-Covering Chivalry: Ringo Starr takes off his coat to help a woman cross a puddle, but it turns out to be a manhole and she plummets down into the sewer.
- Puppy-Dog Eyes: Pretty much Ringo's default expression. Particularly when the man on the train tells him to turn off the radio."But..."
- Quintessential British Gentleman: The Beatles encounter one during their train ride.John: Knock it off, Paul, you can't win with his sort. After all, it's his train, isn't it, Mister?Man: And don't take that tone with me, young man. I fought the war for your sort.Ringo: I bet you're sorry you won.
- Rapid-Fire Comedy: The film generally runs on the Rule of Funny, but reaches true rapid-fire status during the press conference sequence. All four Beatles take turns offering snarky, punny or just plain absurd answers to reporters' questions. Truth in Television, as they really did tend to be inveterate smartasses, and that scene was completely ad-libbed.
- Real Song Theme Tune: The titular song.
- Real Life Writes the Plot:
- In many ways, real life Beatlemania being an obvious example. Other minor examples are George tripping and sprawling over the suitcases during the opening chase (a real accident that was left in), and Ringo's Sad Clown sequence walking along the lake (it was praised as some of the best acting in the movie, but Ringo later admitted he was extremely hungover and genuinely miserable that day).
- Paul's Grandfather's complaint that "So far, I've been in a train and a room, a car and a room, and a room and a room!" is based on actual complaints the Beatles had about touring.
- And Paul's appearance in disguise may have been based on his tendency, at least in the earlier days of Beatlemania, to do just that so he could wander the streets without being bothered.
- A man really did once sit in a train car with The Beatles and tell them to turn off their radio. They told Alun Owen, who worked it into the script.
- Ringo having the most fan mail is particularly true. In the US, Ringo was the most popular Beatle.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: John delivers an unusually good natured one towards Paul's Grandfather after all the trouble he's caused.John: You know your trouble, you should have gone west to America. You would have been a senior citizen of Boston. But you took a wrong turn, and what happened? You're a lonely old man from Liverpool.
Grandfather: [Sour] But I'm clean.
John: [Cheerful cynicism] Are you?
- Recognition Failure: John is recognized by a fan, yet he convinces her that he doesn't exactly look like him at all, to which she agrees and assumes it's not really him! (This was apparently Truth in Television; David Bowie once recalled being very impressed by this technique when in New York with Lennon and later using it himself.)
- Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony: John plays with the ribbon cutting ceremony, cutting a tailor's measuring tape. In the movie, he says "I now declare this bridge open!" as he cuts the ribbon, but in unseen takes before that, he'd ceremoniously cut the ribbon for other (ridiculous) places, such as a "fish and chips shop."
- Rule of Three:
- Number of times Paul answers a reporter's question with "No actually, we're just good friends," the last time in response to a query about his father.
- Number of times Ringo puts his coat over a puddle for a woman to walk over, the last time being... less helpful than the first two.
- Number of times the Beatles lead the policemen chasing them past a man attempting to steal a car. The burglar tries to look inconspicuous the first two times but gives up and doesn't even bother trying to hide what he's doing the last time.
- Running Gag:
- Paul's grandfather. He's very clean.
- "Who's that little old man?"
- Sad Clown: Ringo, whose Puppy-Dog Eyes and funny one liners make him fit this trope.
- Scooby Stack: Performed aboard the train, and even predating the Trope Namer!
- Serenade Your Lover: The Beatles parody this when they sing "If I Fell"...to Ringo.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Ringo's real-life vocabulary used to be rather limited, which makes it hilarious when he drops phrases like "bourgeois cliches" or "active compensatory factor."
- Shout-Out: Ringo gets invited to the Le Cercle club, which is where we were introduced to James Bond in Dr. No. Paul's Grandfather's experiences at baccarat further parodies Bond's introductory scene.
- Speaking Like Totally Teen: George is brought to a fashion designer (unaware that he's the real deal) to preview some clothes.Designer: Now, you'll like these, you'll really dig them. They're fab and all the other pimply hyperboles.George: I wouldn't be seen dead in them. They're dead grotty!Designer: "Grotty"?George: Yeah, grotesque.Designer: (to assistant) Make a note of that word and give it to Susan...
- Squee!: The extras playing the fans, being actual Beatles fans (which was inevitable if you hired three hundred teenagers in London in 1964), were so good that the filmmakers could do only one take of the relevant scenes — and about half the "takes" were more like "let the fans see the Beatles, and then just keep the cameras rolling."
- "Take That!" Kiss:Man on Train: Then I suggest you take that damned thing to the corridor or some other part of the train where you obviously belong.
- Teacher's Pet: The others think of Ringo as this; their manager loves him because he's the only one who isn't a troublemaker.
- Tempting Fate: When the Beatles are late for a rehearsal, the TV director gets into a snit and petulantly threatens that "if they aren't on this stage in thirty seconds, there'll be trouble!" Literally three seconds after he's announced this, the Beatles calmly amble onto stage. And to add insult to injury...John: [To the director] Standin' about, eh? Some people have it dead easy.
- That Reminds Me of a Song: John lampshades this by yelling "Let's put on the show right here, yeah!" before The Beatles rehearse a musical number. He was bummed that it ended up looking like he was serious. However, a lot of the film does avert this, since the whole movie is building up to their TV performance, so it made sense for them to be "rehearsing" musical numbers. This is due in part to the band not being fans of this trope.
- Theme Tune Cameo: John, Paul, and George sing part of "A Hard Day's Night" at one point.
- Titled After the Song
- Title Theme Tune
- Totally Radical: George is mistaken to be a participant in an ad campaign and ad manager Simon Marshall shows some shirts to him, "feeding" George the lines he's to use.Simon: Now, you'll like these. You'll really "dig" them. They're "fab", and all the other pimply hyperboles.George: (after assessing the shirts) I wouldn't be seen dead in them. They're dead grotty.Simon: Grotty?George: Yeah. Grotesque.Simon: (to assistant) Make a note of that word and give it to Susan.
- Train Escape: The opening montage ends with the Beatles jumping on a train to escape their crazed fans.
- Troll: Paul's grandfather, the "king mixer", starts fights everywhere he goes by playing off people's insecurities.
- Truth in Television: A number of gags in the film, such as Ringo getting the most fan-mail, are real titbits from the band's lives. George Harrison's Mistaken for an Imposter bit was likely a reference to him entering a Beatles lookalike contest under a fake name and not winning.
- Undercrank: Used in the scene after the Beatles escape the studio, when they're playing around in the field.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight:Ringo: [Opens door] Any of you left a man in the cupboard?
John & Paul: A man? Don't be soft.
Ringo: Well, somebody did.
George: [Gets up and checks in closet] He's right, y'know.
John: There you go.
- Unusual Euphemism:Norm: The place is surging with girls!
John: Please, sir, sir, can I have one to surge me, sir, please sir?
- Visual Pun:
- John snorts the top of a Coke bottle... Subverted in that it's a Pepsi bottle.
- Also, when they perform "I'm Happy Just to Dance with You," the set is decorated with paintings of literal beetles.
- What's a Henway?:Norm: Ringo, what are you up to?
Ringo: (peering from magazine) Page five.
Reporter: How did you find America?
John: Turned left at Greenland.
- What's an X Like You Doing in a Y Like This?: In the dressing-room scene, the Fab Four are quipping up a storm. Not to be outdone, their assistant Shake says this to a blank-faced mannequin, which being inanimate doesn't respond. Tumbleweed ensues.
- You Are the New Trend: Played with George takes a wrong turn in a tv studio and finds himself at the office of a "with it" producer who doesn't recognize him and takes him for another poser with a phony accent. He tries to get George to appear in an advertisement for trendy clothes, warning him that he'll be an unhip pariah if he doesn't play the game.
- You Had Us Worried There: This happens several times when the Beatles arrive somewhere they're supposed to be at the very last minute. Only one or two of them are life threatening.
- You Know What They Say About X...: Paul's grandfather does this more than once. Once, he tries doing this to Ringo about Ringo: "They'll pick on a nose, you know." But similar insinuations about fellow Beatles and cops later prove effective.
- Your Costume Needs Work: A woman bumps into John and changes her mind several times about how much he does or doesn't look like "him" (never mentioning his name). Shortly afterwards, it happens to George, as he's brought before a fashion designer who says that "The phonies are easier to handle.".