Rare, Behind-the-Scenes Photos of the Beatles from ‘Help!’
Fifty years ago, the movie Help! was released in theaters, and America and the rest of the world fell a little bit more in love with the Beatles. Revel in these pictures of the Fab Four in their glorious prime.
Emilio Lari was a young Italian photographer who took spent a day on set taking images of director Richard Lester’s A Hard Day’s Night. Lester later hired him to be the official photographer on Help! Here, Lester (in tan) demonstrated to George what he wanted to do; even though this image was shot on the Help! set, it was used to promote A Hard Day’s Night, which was released in 1964, a year earlier than Help!.
John wigs out
Because the producers of the film thought that another company had already registered the name Help, they changed the name of their movie to Help!, and the exclamation point took care of their legal concerns. John and Paul only wrote the song after that name was chosen. Lari, who got to know all four band members, says, “John was surprisingly serious.” Still, he had his lighter moments. Here, he was clowning around in a wig that he borrowed from costume department.
Rooming with the Beatles
This space was intended to look like the ultimate mod bachelor pad; it was built on a sound stage at Twickenham Film Studios in London. Every Beatle had his own special, whimsical section. George’s area had a mini lawn; John’s, a recessed bed; Ringo’s, a row of vending machines; and Paul’s, a console organ. And although you can’t tell from the black-and-white photo, each section was characterized by a single color.
Ringo keeps the beat
“Ringo was always fun to be with,” says Lari. While much of the film was shot in studio, one part was shot at Knighton Down in Larkhill, west of London and about a mile from Stonehenge. It was a military reserve, which the producers and the Beatles liked because it kept away screaming fans. Still, the band was on a bare, freezing field, and if you watch the film closely during the Down scenes, you can see Ringo’s teeth chattering and his nose running.
Hanging with Paul
“Paul was the clown who knew how to strike a pose,” recalls Lari. Here, he sat astride a Centurion tank from the Third Division of the Royal Artillery. The troop members happily volunteered to be extras in the film.
“George was also serious and could at times be moody, but most of the time, he wanted to sleep,” remembers Lari. In fact, the Fab Four were exhausted during the making of Help!, due to an arduous filming schedule, TV and radio appearances, writing new songs, and partying. Unlike today’s movie stars, the Beatles did not have cozy trailers at their disposal. “They didn’t have a chair to sit on between takes, so they just lay on the ground shivering,” says Lari. Paul crawled into a haystack to stay warm.
More ‘Help!’ Trivia for Beatles Fans
The movie, which cost $1.5 million to make, was a worldwide hit, netting $12 million. It was the last project that Lester would do with the band, although he’d go on to direct many other films, including Superman II and Superman III. To see more fun images from the set and to read more about Emilio Lari’s recollections, check out the new Rizzoli book The Beatles: Photographs from the set of Help!.