The Beatles

Magical Mystery Tour Memories

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Though the actual onscreen presence of the Beatles in this documentary is light, it's a decent overview of their 1967 movie Magical Mystery Tour. As the title implies, it emphasizes memories of those involved in some way in the filming, the talking heads pepped up by a bit of home movie footage taken of the Beatles and others on the sets. In truth, Magical Mystery Tour (the movie, not the album) was one of the group's least successful and least interesting major projects, but at least a good number of people who did know the Beatles and were in their proximity during its making are interviewed for this 55-minute DVD. Among them are Paul McCartney's brother Mike McCartney, who contributed some ideas to the film (most crucially getting the Bonzo Dog Band to play in one sequence); Neil Innes of the Bonzo Dog Band itself; press officer Tony Barrow; Tony Bramwell, a personal assistant to the Beatles; Spencer Davis, who visited the group on the set at one point; Miranda Ward, a journalist who interviewed the Beatles during the filming; Freda Kelly, the fan club president along for the ride, and even some of the dancers in the "Your Mother Should Know" section. While Victor Spinetti would seem to make a good choice as the documentary's narrator as he acted in the film (and other Beatles movies), and he does offer the occasional anecdote, his links are actually a little overly campy, though not quite intrusively so. Since there aren't any major stories uncovered here, and since some of the memories by fans and miscellaneous people who happened to encounter the Beatles during the filming are kind of trivial, it's perhaps best appreciated by Beatlemaniacs rather than more general fans of the band. Note, too, that no actual Beatles music or clips from the film itself are seen or heard in the documentary (though the soundtrack has some facsimiles of Magical Mystery Tour songs). But at least there are plenty of still photos, some very brief vintage interview clips, some extracts of audio tapes from interviews Miranda Ward did with George Harrison and Ringo Starr while shooting took place, and some fairly entertaining storytelling from the more central participants. The 20 minutes of bonus features present less essential outtakes from interviews with some of the principals who give eyewitness accounts in the main documentary.