The Beatles’ 1967 made-for-television “Magical Mystery Tour,” now on DVD, takes the camp and silliness of the group’s previous feature films to a vivid new level. Directed by all four Beatles along with Bernard Knowles, “Magical Mystery Tour” plays out like a series of scenes woven together as an excuse to have a goofy, good time – and, of course, to hear Beatles’ songs, including “Fool On the Hill,” “I Am the Walrus” and “Your Mother Should Know.”
Richard B. Starkey (aka Ringo Starr) and his Aunt Jessica (Jessie Robins) never give their bickering a rest, even after they board the Magical Mystery Tour bus. Run by courier Jolly Jimmy (Derek Royle), hostess Wendy (Mandy Weet) and driver Alf, the bus leaves town, headed for the countryside. Among the other bus passengers are the rest of the Beatles (Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison), a starlet (Maggie Wright), a child (Nicola Hale) and the “quite harmless” Mr. Bloodvessel (poet Ivor Cutler).
The tour features “enjoyment within the limits of British decency,” such as games (Blind Man’s Bluff, Tug of War, wrestling, races, a jolly good sing-along) and a visit to a strip club (where the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band performs “Death Cab For Cutie”). There is magic at work, as “four or five” magicians (played by The Beatles) whip things up in their lab. There also is love, as Mr. Bloodvessel falls for Aunt Jessica. Period touches of psychedelia and surrealism, including Aunt Jessica food dream, as well as select musical numbers, abound.
“Magical Mystery Tour” is certainly no “Help!” or “A Hard Day’s Night,” but it’s not a bad way to spend an hour with The Beatles. DVD special features include commentary by McCartney, a making-of featurette, and much more.
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