The Beatles

Unauthorized/Fun with the Fab Four [DVD]

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Both of these ragtag compilations of Beatles-related film clips, each of which lasts a little under an hour, were originally released separately by Good Times. This DVD combines them both on the same disc, and if you have any interest in the material at all, you should certainly look for this two-fer instead of the separate installments. The Unauthorized portion is dominated by footage from their first American concert (in February 1964 in Washington, DC), and while that's mighty exciting, if lo-fi stuff, it's been superseded by better DVDs that offer more songs from the same show, or even (as on Beatles Around the World) almost the entire performance. Unauthorized is filled out by bits from Beatlemania-era press conferences, airport arrivals, and the like -- kind of cool to watch if you're a besotted fan, but assembled in fragments and without any context. At least it does have what seems to be most or all of a press conference they gave in Los Angeles in August 1966 just days before their final concert, which was one of their more interesting and serious ones as such presentations went. Fun With the Fab Four is devoted almost entirely to press conferences, interviews, newsreel bits, and such, with some overlap between the contents of Unauthorized. It's rather unsatisfying viewing, even if it does have some intriguing sections for serious fans, like a group interview from the brief time that Jimmy Nicol was substituting for Ringo Starr. Both Unauthorized/Fun With the Fab Four include one howler of a scene: Pete Best's appearance on the American game show I've Got a Secret (his secret being that he used to drum with the Beatles), which must be one of the only existing sound clips of Best in the 1960s. So overall, like most unauthorized Beatles-related DVDs, it's a bit of a rip-off. Is it sacrilegious, however, to say that this at least offers twice the value of the usual rip-off by combining two previous releases into one?