"THE MAN WHO ""FRAMED"" THE BEATLES: A Biography of Richard Lester" by Andrew Yule

"THE MAN WHO ""FRAMED"" THE BEATLES: A Biography of Richard Lester"

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Yule has written better-than-average lives of Al Pacino, Sean Connery, and David Puttnam, among other works; here, Richard Lester only seems a lesser figure until you weigh his full plate of achievements. Lester (b. 1932) broke into entertainment in Philadelphia in 1951 at WCAU-TV, where he mounted five shows daily, including a personal failure featuring himself whose reviews begged for the show's death. Philadelphia offering little future, then, he took off for England, fell in with Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan, fresh from radio's The Goon Show, and directed them in a new TV show, Idiot Weekly, whose surreal comedy lifted English reviewers into ecstasies. This was followed by A Show Named Fred, then by Son of Fred -- which failed because Milligan had gone overboard with minimalist sets and lost the audience. But Lester showed he could deliver amazingly funny film with the 11-minute classic The Running Jumping Standing Still Film and the full-length musical It's Trad, Dad! -- two films that induced the Beatles into accepting him as director of their first film, It's a Hard Day's Night, and then of Help! Yule has much fun showing Lester improvising on the script and the Beatles inventing much of their material -- George Harrison actually wrote, ""What do you call that haircut?"" and John Lennon's reply, ""Arthur."" Later, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum let Lester work with Zero Mostel, Phil Silvers, and Buster Keaton, and was followed by the hilarious How I Won the War (featuring John Lennon), the San Francisco farce Petulia, and The Three Musketeers and its sequel. We watch him film Robin and Marian, Superman II, Superman III and still another Musketeers sequel. Also included is the script for a scene written for Paul McCartney but then deleted from the final cut of A Hard Day's Night. A running, jumping biography that never stands still except for a final interview with Lester, now much more cautious about his projects.

Pub Date: March 21st, 1994
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Donald Fine