This film clip is the earliest surviving movie film (Super 8mm) of The Beatles that has become available (a three minute film from The Top Ten Club in Hamburg in Spring 1961 is reported to exist). This clip also offers the first color photos (stills from individual frames of the film) when the band was using the name "The Beatles". The film was discovered in 1973 by the son of the photographer (is that what it would be called?). It was auctioned at Sotheby's in 1996.
The complete film is reported to also contain non-Beatles images shot in various clubs. It shows people drinking, playing snooker and watching the band. The Beatles are seen in two separate segments which appear to represent two different songs being performed. In the first segment, George is seen singing. In the second segment, Paul is singing. John is not seen at a microphone. Pete is obscurred in the shadows and can't be seen at all.
The total amount of time for the two Beatles' segments is said to be 30 seconds. At the time of the Sotheby's auction, excerpts of the film were shown on ITN News in the UK and Extra in the US. In 2004 most, if not all, of the clip was featured in the Pete Best documentary DVD, Best Of The Beatles. The clip presented here would seem to be the entire clip because it fits the reported 30 second length and it features two different songs. I'm not sure of the source for this clip.
SO WHEN, EXACTLY, WAS THIS FILM MADE?
Here's what facts we do have...
- The Beatles are in their leather outfits.
This puts the film date between July 1961 (when the band returned to England from Hamburg) and March 1962 (when they shed the leather outfits).
- Paul is playing his Hofner 500/1 bass which was purchased in Germany around April 1961.
- George is playing his Gretsch Duo Jet guitar which he purchased around July 1961
This puts the film date after July 1961. There is some theory that Paul and George's instruments were purchased before going to Hamburg in March 1961. However, the photo sets featured here at The Savage Young Beatles illustrate the accuracy of the April and July 1961 dates. Likewise, a pre-March 1961 date would predate the leather outfits. These dates also concur with Andy Babiuk's book, Beatles Gear.
- Red hearts can be seen behind the band.
It can be assumed the hearts are Valentine's Day decorations. If this is the case, this must place the date sometime in February 1962.
- Gold lamé curtains can be seen behind the band.
- In The Complete Beatles Chronicle, Mark Lewisohn states that Floral Hall, where The Beatles played on 20 February 1962, had gold lamé curtains.
While it is very possible that other venues also had gold lamé, Floral Hall seems like a plausible guess for the venue and thus, the date, of the film.
- However, a recent bit of info provided to me by Pete Best indicates that this might, in fact, be 10 February 1962 at St. Paul's Church Hall in Birkenhead.
PETE: "We think the cine footage is in St Pauls church Hall in Birkenhead and not the Floral Hall (we have the ticket from St Paul's) and we have another spool of the cine that the clip was taken from this is being checked out as we speak."
Since Valentine hearts are seen, it seems logical that the hearts would be up four days before Valentine's Day as opposed to six days after on 20 February (i.e. the Floral Hall show).
In any case, for the time being, I'm sticking with the traditional date although I'm inclined to think the 10 February date just might be correct. It just makes sence.
Hopefully, more definitive info will surface.
OTHER VENUES PLAYED IN FEBRUARY 1962:
(The Beatles also played The Cavern several times and The Casbah one time but this is certainly neither of those clubs)
01.02.1962 West Kirby, Thistle Cafe'
02.02.1962 Manchester, Oasis Club
05.02.1962 Southport, Kingsway Club
09.02.1962 Birkenhead, Technical College
10.02.1962 Birkenhead, Youth Club
15.02.1962 Wallasey, Tower Ballroom
16.02.1962 Birkenhead, Technical College
2nd show Wallasey, Tower Ballroom
20.02.1962 Southport, Floral Hall
23.02.1962 2nd show Wallasey, Tower Ballroom
3rd show Birkenhead, Technical College
4th show Wallasey, Tower Ballroom
24.02.1962 Hoylake, YMCA
26.02.1962 Southport, Kingsway Club