Posted Sep 15 2018

Bob McCabe's Life In Movies - 1965 - Help!

THE INTRO BIT: We here at TheLastWordOnEath have asked noted film critic & film historian Bob McCabe to take part in our latest feature. The notion is to have someone write about the film that means the most to them for every year they’ve been alive. Not the films they saw in that year necessarily, but the ones that have come to have meaning for them in the years that followed – but were made in that year. After all, even we thought it was asking too much to get Bob to recall his cinematic experiences from 1965, the year he was born. Odds are, he wasn’t focusing on all things cinematic yet at that point.

We chose Bob because not only is he a New York Times Top 10 Best-Selling Author (Harry Potter Page To Screen), an award winning screenwriter (Out On A Limb), a noted and long-standing film critic (from Empire to the BBC via Melody Maker, Vox, Q, The Times, The Face, The Daily Mirror and anyone who would have him) and celebrated author (The Pythons Autobiography By The Pythons, Dark Knights and Holy Fools, Dreams & Nightmares, Ronnie Barker The Authorised Biography, Pinewood The Story Of An Iconic Studio, etc. – that’s the contractual obligation out of the way!) he’s also been a contributor to this site since its early days.

As a rule we have asked our writers to remain anonymous – one of the reasons this site was originally launched was because we were fed up with so-called “critics” writing about themselves rather than the films they were discussing. (Please see our “About Us” section on the tool bar above.) But in this case we’re outing Bob – and he seems OK about it.

“I thank LastWord for the challenge of doing this. It presents what seems to me to be a unique way to look back on your life and evaluate it from the movies that were made during the years you have lived through. Obviously, some of it will be retrospective – don’t really recall what I was watching the year I was born. And I told LastWord it will often be more anecdotal than analytical. I intend to write about the movies that meant something to me in all of these years I’ve been around. They won’t necessarily be the best of that year, they won’t always be Oscar winners (although some might – or some should’ve been.) But they will be the ones that do something to me. And I don’t think this goes against the ethos of this fine site, because even though this is personal, I firmly believe there is universality in the specific experience. These are my choices – but you all have yours. After all, everyone has their own Life In Movies. Yes, even you…sitting at the back there…afraid to raise your hand…”


1965 - Help!

The Sound Of Music was the biggest film in the world the year I was born (and for many years after what was, to me at least, this monumental event – November 24 if you’re wondering or want to send cards next time out.) Naturally, I don’t remember this first hand so had to look it up. And whilst I have nothing against singing nuns and children in lederhosen outwitting the Nazis (more power to them I think as the years go by) it never fully found a place in my heart. The film that did was The Beatles’ second go at trying to do what Elvis did on the big screen, a film that yes, was in colour, and no, was nowhere near as good as A Hard Day’s Night from the year before (wasn’t born then – can’t pick it!)

To be honest, Help! is not a very good film. But they showed it on BBC2 the night after John Lennon was shot. And you just couldn’t laugh at what were essentially fairly lame jokes. You just marvelled at the beginning of Ticket To Ride and that amazing “I think I’m gonna be sad, I think it’s today” and then my 15 year old self just watched the rest, trying not to say out loud “Oh my God they kill you just for being a pop star now.”

The Hill, for example, is a better film from this year, and one I’ve returned to time and time again. (I once wrote a book about Sean Connery – the first biography of him that he didn’t sue over, which means it was either really good, or just remarkably anodyne. Still not sure which – but the cover was pretty.) The Hill is a much better film that Help! (exclamation mark essential) but I want Paul singing Another Girl, George on I Need You, John singing You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away indirectly to Brian Epstein, and, mostly, You’re Gonna Lose that Girl, to celebrate the year of my birth. They so beat “Doe – a dear, a female dear…” And who didn’t want to live in that four houses in one, with Lennon’s sunken pit? Be honest – we all did!

(By the way, I currently own a short-sleeved button up blue shirt that features The Beatles from the Help! album cover doing their supposed semaphore bit with the title writ large upon them. I refer to it as my funeral shirt. Why? I just like the idea of lying dead in a coffin wearing a shirt that says “Help!” all over it.)


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