When he mentioned director Franco Zeffirelli, it did not throw me off. I was familiar with his work. I'd seen the film. Why? Because going to see it was a field trip one day when I was a student in the post-riots Watts section of Los Angeles. Our English Lit. teachers at Verbum Dei High School on South Central Avenue didn't have a big budget like schools in upscale middle class neighborhoods, so good movies in theatrical release were utilized as part of our fine arts education. We took buses to areas like Hollywood or Westwood. We saw fine films like A Man for All Seasons and Far from the Madding Crowd. That Catholic school still holds a special place in my heart. It's still in operation in Watts.
Not a single one was nominated for Best Song. The Oscar went to "Chim Chim Cher-ee" from Mary Poppins. The Disney film song beat out "Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte," "Dear Heart" and "Where Love Has Gone," all songs from movies of the same name. The fifth nominee was "My Kind of Town" from Robin and the Seven Hoods starring and introduced by Frank Sinatra.
A Hard Day's Night got two Oscars nominations. One was for Best Original Screenplay and the other was for Best Music Adaptation and Scoring. The songwriting team of Lennon and McCartney should've been nominated. Their songs have endured.
Here's a DVD double feature recommendation for you: Watch 1964's A Hard Day's Night and follow that with another film that deserves more attention today than it gets -- the 1982 family drama, Shoot the Moon, directed by Alan Parker. A couple with four children breaks up after 15 years of marriage. Albert Finney and Diane Keaton are so powerful as the bitter, resentful parents. This was one of those top films that showed folks that Keaton was not just Woody Allen's Annie Hall. One of my favorite scenes in Shoot the Moon has Keaton, as the emotionally devastated wife, in a bathtub and singing Lennon & McCartney's "If I Fell" to herself, in French. A great scene with a song from the movie A Hard Day's Night. Another moving performance, one that almost steals the film, came from the late Dana Hill as Sherry, one of their children. She's the oldest child, overwhelmed trying to deal with the unhappy emotions of two people more than twice her age. Dana Hill moved me to my soul with that performance. My parents divorced when I was just starting high school. I'm the oldest of three kids. I knew how that character felt. So, with the common bond of my favorite song by Lennon & McCartney, there's my DVD double feature top for you -- A Hard Day's Night and Shoot the Moon.
Once again, I wish a very happy birthday to singer/songwriter, musician and humanitarian, Sir Paul McCartney. Interviewing that gentleman will always be one of the highlights of my life.
And thank you, Verbum Dei High School, for the preparation.