The Beatles The First U.S. Visit

When the Beatles invaded the U.S. in 1964, Granada TV hired Albert and David Maysles to document all the kerfuffle for audiences back in England. The choice was inspired — the Maysles brothers had just developed new equipment that allowed them to be more agile and unobtrusive in their filming, and they managed to capture the Beatles in a remarkably intimate and stylish light as they were confronted with celebrity on a nearly unfathomable scale. The immediate influence of the Maysles film was huge — both A Hard Day's Night and Don't Look Back would steal from it liberally in the months to come — but it has been largely ignored since its original airing. The DVD reissue doubles the original 40-minute film in length by inter-cutting it with ten songs from the Beatles' Ed Sullivan performances. This new edit fleshes out the story but it dramatically changes the "behind the scenes" tone of the Maysles' film. Given the historical interest of the documentary, Capitol should have left the film intact, and then perhaps included all 14 of the Ed Sullivan performances (and perhaps the full 12-song set from Washington that CBS filmed as well) as extras. They do include almost an hour of outtakes, which are well worth watching, but the commentary on the disc from Albert Maysles is spotty and banal, leaving most of my questions unaddressed. Nevertheless, this is a fascinating film with great performances (musical and otherwise), impeccably restored, and well worth adding to any Beatles fan's collection. (Capitol/EMI)