The Beatles’ Third Film for United Artists: What Happened in 1966?



In 1966, The Beatles were still under contractual obligation to make a third film for United Artists, following the success of their previous films, “A Hard Day’s Night” (1964) and “Help!” (1965). Throughout the year, the press reported on various ideas and updates for the film.

In December 1965, the Beatles rejected a script proposed by producer Walter Shenson and named “A Talent for Loving“. The film was to be an adaptation of a parodic Western novel by Richard Condon.

In May 1966, Walter Shenson said that he had considered 40 scripts so far, but none was suitable. In July 1966, it was announced that The Beatles had retained a script by British playwright Owen Holder. The script, named “Shades of a Personality“, called for a man (to be played by John Lennon) suffering from a three-way split personality, with the remaining Beatles playing each of these personalities. However, the project was eventually scrapped.

In January 1967, playwright Joe Orton was asked to revisit “Shades of a Personality” and turned it into “Up Against It“. This film was also never made.

The Beatles finally fulfilled their contractual obligation for United Artists, by releasing “Let It Be” in 1970.

The next film, that’s the main thing we ought to talk about because everyone is writing in with questions about it. The thing is you’ve got to have a story and then a script before you can make a film. Most of the story ideas that have been put forward so far have had the wrong approach.

Paul McCartney – From interview for The Beatles Monthly Book, February 1966

It’s amazing how many ideas have been put up since last autumn but most of them have been variations on themes we’ve already used in one or both of the earlier films. There was nothing wrong in those themes first time around but we’d rather get away and do something totally different for the third picture.

Paul McCartney – From interview for The Beatles Monthly Book, February 1966

I have had several more meetings with the boys and we have gone over a number of fresh suggestions for stories but everything has been rejected. At the moment we have absolutely nothing suitable.

Brian Epstein says we should go ahead after the Beatles return from their American tour at the beginning of September but they will need time to write some songs and record before shooting can begin so it looks like an October start – and that, of course, depends on us finding the right story.

Walter Shenson – Producer – From New Musical Express – April 15, 1966

I’ve seen everything from single page ideas to shooting scripts — I’d say about 40 in all, from America, Great Britain and the Continent. We’ve had ideas or scripts from fans, from professional writers, from novelists, from screenwriters and even from journalists — some of them quite well-known. We’ve even interviewed writers to see what they could come up with.

Walter Shenson – From Melody Maker – May 7, 1966


Producer Walter Shenson met up with the boys when they were staying in Manchester on Tuesday, December 7 to have a long discussion about their next film. They still haven’t come to any definite decision, but the indications are now that they will keep a cowboy element in their next picture but the script won’t be completely based on “A Talent For Loving”. Instead, there is going to be a lot of goon-type incidents surrounding a very lucky leading lady.

From The Beatles Monthly Book – January 1966
From The Beatles Monthly Book – January 1966


One of the many films that the boys have seen during the past couple of months, in their search for a basic idea for their next film, was an Italian movie about a bank robbery which they saw at the Warwick Theatre, London. It just so happened that the management decided to run a sneak preview of the latest James Bond film “Thunderball”.

Their verdict on the Italian movie was “thumbs down” and on the James Bond film “fair but a bit too gimmicky”.

From The Beatles Monthly Book – February 1966
From The Beatles Monthly Book – February 1966


At long last Walter Shenson reports that he has found a film script which might be suitable for the boys. But. at the time of going to press, none of the Beatles have actually read it so we can’t give you any more definite details as to when shooting may start. One surprise though… the new script is basically a Western!


At the moment, the Beatles intend to tour the United States this year in the late summer and there is also the possibility that they will visit Japan. But everything now depends upon the film. That’s got to be “in the can” before they can do anything else.

From The Beatles Monthly Book – March 1966
From The Beatles Monthly Book – March 1966


As soon as George returns from his Barbados holiday, the Beatles will be going into the E.M.I. Studios to start working on songs for their next film. They expect to be recording continuously for about two weeks, starting around the beginning of March.

If they go ahead with the Western film idea, all the boys feel that at least some of the songs will have to have a Country and Western flavour. But they are still discussing the question of what songs to do and anything can happen once they get in the recording studios.

From The Beatles Monthly Book – March 1966
From The Beatles Monthly Book – March 1966


“THE Beatles At Shea Stadium”, the 50-minute film of the group’s fantastic New York concert last summer, is to be repeated on BBC-TV, but no date has been set at present for the re-screening.

A spokesman for the BBC told the MM: “The film will be shown again, but we do not know when or on which channel — BBC-1 or BBC-2 — at present.

No progress has been made in finding a suitable script for the Beatles’ third film, reports producer Walter Shenson.

We are still looking for a suitable story,” he told the MM on Monday. “The Beatles have said, and I agree with them, that they don’t want to do a story that isn’t right. We have a contract to make a third film, it’s just a matter of finding the right script.’’

From Melody Maker – March 12, 1966
From Melody Maker – March 12, 1966

Beatles film No. 3 is next year now

THERE will NOT be a Beatles film this year. With a suitable story still missing production has been put back until October and the group’s third picture cannot be completed for showing before 1967.

Producer Walter Shenson told the NME on Wednesday: “I have had several more meetings with the boys and we have gone over a number of fresh suggestions for stories but everything has been rejected. At the moment we have absolutely nothing suitable.

“Brian Epstein says we should go ahead after the Beatles return from their American tour at the beginning of September but they will need time to write some songs and record before shooting can begin so it looks like an October start – and that, of course, depends on us finding the right story.


“We have turned down everything from ‘The Beatles In The Army’ to ‘The Beatles Meet Elvis’.”

There is no news yet of the Beatles’ next single. On the telephone from his car as he travelled to the recording studios on Wednesday John Lennon told the NME: “In three days of recording we have started three songs but we will do the whole batch — enough for the new LP as well — before we pick the single.

The largest audience the Beatles will appear before on their US tour in August — details of which were exclusively revealed in last week’s NME — will again be the 56,000 at New York’s Shea Stadium. Although they visit the much larger Philadelphia Municipal Stadium, seating will be limited on the occasion to 40,000.

From New Musical Express – April 15, 1966
From New Musical Express – April 15, 1966

COUNTDOWN FOR THE THIRD BEATLES FILM – AND IT WILL BE THE most difficult film the Beatles never made

After two smash-hit films – acclaimed by public and critics with few reservations, the Beatles’ film career seems to have come to a halt. Their first movie A Hard Day’s Night was said to be ahead of its time. The second, Help!, with the benefits of full colour, was a pop art success.

The story line for the Beatles’ third film was all set to be based on A Talent For Loving, written by Richard Condon, but they had second thoughts about the advisability of doing a Western. So what now? What’s happening in the Beatles’ film front, and what is the background on the fruitless six-month search for a suitable script for Beatles’ third fim. Alan Walsh asked producer Walter Shenson for the answers

WHAT is the position on the third film at present?


WHAT sort of script are you looking for?

[Unreadable] They will have to play four leading characters who look, think and talk like the Beatles, but are different characters. This has been the fault with most of the scripts and ideas so far submitted — they’ve followed the first two and written a film about the Beatles. To find a good enough storyline, which has four leading men, is very difficult. The fault with the things submitted hasn’t been bad writing, but ignorance of what we are looking for. The script must be a strong story line, with four leading characters — and different from the first two, forgetting that the Beatles are to play the characters, and visualising a story-line that would suit John, Paul, George and Ringo.

WILL the film have music as an integral part?

This time, we’d like to have a script from which the Beatles can write the songs, and we’ll have to find a way of including six or seven songs. But of course, if in the script, they don’t play a group, this will nave to be done in some other way than in the first two films, although we did dub the music over the sequences in both of them, so have set this precedent.

HOW many scripts have you been offered since A Talent For Loving?

I’ve seen everything from single page ideas to shooting scripts — I’d say about 40 in all, from America, Great Britain and the Continent.

WHAT kind of people have submitted scripts?

We’ve had ideas or scripts from fans, from professional writers, from novelists, from screenwriters and even from journalists — some of them quite well-known. We’ve even interviewed writers to see what they could come up with.

WHO turns the scripts down — you, Brian Epstein or the Beatles?

I turn down the obviously useless ones. The ones with some worth are put up to Brian and the boys. So far I’ve never been disappointed by them not liking a script. They know what they want — they are after all the best judges of themselves — and there’s been no script that I’ve wanted them to do that they’ve turned down. It would be easy for us to do the same as Elvis does — Elvis in the Army and that sort of thing. Even when he uses a different name in the film, it’s basically the same Elvis character. The same with Cliff Richard — on holiday, etc. That wouldn’t work with the Beatles. They know it.

WHAT are your ideas as producer for a workable script?

The Beatles first of all don’t want to do a period story. It has to be a modern story, set in Britain, though short location trips would be all right. They don’t want to compromise. The script will have to have a good strong story-line, a well-worked-out plot, and not be a plotless cashing in on the Beatles’ reputation.

WOULD you take any of the four away from the other three and make a film with him?

No, that wouldn’t work. But if we could find the right story, the character and personality of each of the four could be brought out in one film.

WHY is this third film so important?

Because the succeeding films will be affected if it’s a bad film. And the boys themselves don’t want to do anything bad. There will be such a gap between Help! and this one that it will have to be good. Also, as the boys say, if they make a bad record, they can throw the tapes away. But if half a million is spent on a film, good or bad, it has to go on release.

COULD another producer come up with a story before you?

Well, I have a contract to make another film, but I wouldn’t stand in the way if the Beatles wanted to do something that someone else has offered. We’d come to some arrangement. But we work well together and I don’t think anyone could walk in and con the Beatles into doing something that’s bad for them.

HAS the idea of the Beatles as film stars fallen down because of the difficulties you are at present experiencing?

No, but they don’t want to appeal to any specific age group, or country, and they are aware as I have said that at all costs they must make good films, or their film career will come to an end.

DOES the search for a script frustrate you?

Yes, it is frustrating, but it’s necessary to be sure.

HAS your association with the Beatles been rewarding?

Yes — both financially and by the fact that they are so stimulating because of their talent and the fact that they are so in tune with modern times.

HOW successful on the world market were the first two films?

They were extremely successful They were big-grossing films and because they weren’t too costly to make, they reaped good profits as well.

From Melody Maker – May 7, 1966
From Melody Maker – May 7, 1966

Beatles OK film script

BEATLES have at last found a script for their third film — shooting will probably begin around January 1967. The script — submitted to producer Walter Shenson by an unknown writer — has been passed by two of the boys and is being worked on at the moment. The Beatles will review it again when it has been completed this summer.

In their new film, the Beatles wilt not play them selves. Instead, it will probably be a strong story based around a comedy line with a chance to give the boys good acting roles.

It is unlikely that Dick Lester, director of both previous Beatles films, will be working on the new one.

The Beatles left the Philippines on Tuesday morning. Originally they had been informed by the government there that they would be prevented from leaving the country unless they paid tax on the money they earned while playing concerts in Manila.

From Disc And Music Echo – July 9, 1966
From Disc And Music Echo – July 9, 1966

Beatles film date, Ringo-Paul single!

PLANS for the Beatles’ much-delayed third film have at last been set. A new Beatles disc is being rushed-released next week — their first British single to have been lifted from one of their albums, and their first on which Ringo Starr is featured as a singer! Other artists are rushing to cover tracks from the new album.

The third Beatles film will now definitely go into production at the end of January, almost a year later than was originally planned. Neither title nor director have yet been set but the picture will again be produced by Walter Shenson, who was responsible for the group’s previous two movies.


For the first time, the Beatles will themselves compose the entire musical score for the picture, as well as writing the eight or nine featured songs. The story has been specially written by British playwright Owen Holder. Most of the shooting will take place in Britain — but it is possible that some overseas location sequences will be included. Release of the film, expected in mid-summer next year, will be through United Artists.

Next Friday (5th) sees the surprise release of the group’s single, “Yellow Submarine”/ “Eleanor Rigby.” Both tracks arc taken from the group’s “Revolver” LP issued the same day. The disc is being treated as a double ‘A’-side release. Ringo is the solo vocalist on “Yellow Submarine” —his first singles release as a singer. Paul McCartney is featured soloist, with orchestral accompaniment, on the coupling.

Several tracks from the Beatles’ new album have now been covered by other artists. Next Friday Parlophone issues Scott Hamilton’s “Good Day Sunshine”/”For No One,” both titles coming from the LP. The following Friday (12th) the same label releases “Here There And Everywhere” by the Fourmost.

The Tremeloes have also recorded “Good Day Sunshine” for release on the same day. It is their first disc for CBS. Brian Poole has also moved to this label and will have a separate disc issued shortly.

Radio Caroline plans to present daily “Beatle bulletins” —news items and tapes from America, shipped to the station each morning — during the group’s tour of the U.S. Chief Caroline North d-j Jerry Leighton will be covering the tour in person.

But the arrangements will be dependent on the Government’s “antipirate” bill, being published yesterday (Thursday). As reported last week Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers have waxed “Got To Get You Into My Life,” issued the same day.

The She Trinity have also recorded “Yellow Submarine” — for release by Columbia on August 12. This is the first time the Beatles have had direct competition on one of their singles.

The Beatles, whose next American tour begins on August 11, have rejected an invitation to visit South Africa. They say the Musicians’ Union would not permit them to perform to segregated audiences.

From New Musical Express – July 29, 1966
From New Musical Express – July 29, 1966


It was announced this week that the Beatles’ next film, produced by Walter Shenson, will be based on an original story by British playwright Owen Holder. The Beatles will write the entire musical score and prerecord it in December. Shooting, in colour, starts in January, 1967.

From Disc And Music Echo – July 30, 1966
From Disc And Music Echo – July 30, 1966

Beatles splitting!

The Beatles are splitting up — to make separate solo film parts! This is their answer to the question of what is left for them to conquer and manager Brian Epstein admitted this week that this is the next step for the Beatles (writes Bob Farmer).

“I am only prepared to say at the moment that they might make films separately,” said Mr. Epstein, but I understand he will make an announcement about the Beatles splitting up for films probably within the next week.

It is also almost certain that one of the Beatles — probably Paul — will make a solo debut in films sometime in 1967 — but certainly not until after the Beatles’ next film together is completed, shooting for which will definitely start in January.

From Disc And Music Echo – July 30, 1966


Shooting starts end of January

THE Beatles will be writing the entire musical score — songs and incidental music — for their new film, which starts shooting at the end of January.

The film story is the idea of TV writer Owen Holder, who is at present working on the script. It will again be in colour and will be produced by Walter Shenson. No title has been set and there is still no director, but the film will be distributed by United Artists.

The Beatles start work on the music for the film when they return from their forthcoming American tour, which starts on August 12 in Chicago.

This will be the first time that the Beatles have written the incidental background music for their film. In the first two films, they contributed only the songs.

The prospect of a new British tour before the film goes into production is “in the air”, said a spokesman for Nems Enterprises on Monday. But nothing has been finalised at present.

The group’s new LP “Revolver” and their new rush-released single from the album – “Eleanor Rigby” featuring Paul and “Yellow Submarine” which features Ringo on his first A-side — is released tomorrow (Friday).

From Melody Maker – August 6, 1966
From Melody Maker – August 6, 1966


THE Beatles will start work on their third film next January. It will be a full-length movie in colour, and will probably be premiered some time next summer.

The story will be based on an idea conceived by TV playwright Owen Holder, who has started writing the screenplay. Walter Shenson, who produced the foursome’s first two pictures, A Hard Day’s Night and Help!, will also produce the new movie, which will be distributed by United Artists.

The boys won’t be playing themselves this time,” Mr. Shenson told Fabulous. “They will be four individual characters in a story well removed from the themes of the other two films. They’ll be writing and recording songs for the picture, and this time John and Paul will also write the background score for the entire film.

Owen Holder apologised to Fabulous for being unable to provide much detail about the story line.

“It’s like the back page of a detective story,” he explained. “If I told you, the whole thing would be given away. I suddenly thought of the idea while riding home one night on a country bus. It’s quite unusual, and will be a new departure for The Beatles. Broadly, it’s going to be a comedy with some incidental social comment, and there’ll be some pretty girls around too. Not as many as I would have liked, but I think the others connected with the film thought the fans would get jealous if we have too many around!”

From Fabulous208 – August 8, 1966
From Fabulous208 – August 8, 1966

As ‘fade out’ rumours persist, Epstein reveals — ‘BEATLES HITS’ ALBUM NEXT MONTH; SINGLE?

A BEATLES album containing 16 of their biggest hits will be issued by EMI during the first week of December. The Beatles WILL record at the end of this month. These were the positive facts to emerge this week after reports and denials about the doubt surrounding their future. It is not yet certain whether they will have completed a single in time for pre-Christmas release. The Beatles’ first hits album “Oldies” (and sub-titled “But Goldies”) will include one track by the group never previously issued in Britain, “Bad Boy.”

Titles on side one are “She Loves You,” “From Me To You,” “We Can Work It Out,” “Help!,” “Michelle,” “Yesterday,” “I Feel Fine” and “Yellow Submarine.”

Remainder of the second side titles are “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Paperback Writer,” “Hard Day’s Night,” “Ticket To Ride,” “Day Tripper,” “Eleanor Rigby” and “I Want To Hold Your Hand.”

This is the latest position on the group’s activities:


John Lennon has returned from filming in Spain — but not before Paul McCartney had left for a holiday “somewhere abroad.” The two will not meet to write new songs until Paul returns “later this month.”

Their recording manager George Martin is also away — in New York. He returns on November 21 and is hoping to assemble the group within the following week to record, providing new Lennon-McCartney songs are available.

They will record their customary “free” record for distribution to fan club members before Christmas, and there is a possibility that a new Beatles single could be released on December 9. Then they will begin waxing the songs for their next film and the film album.

Brian Epstein revealed on Wednesday that the Beatles’ contract with EMI expired some time ago, although a new agreement is “close to finalisation.” Beatles records issued since the original contract expired have been made under an interim agreement.


Impresario Arthur Howes, who jointly presents with Brian Epstein all the Beatles British concert appearances, said on Wednesday that it seemed certain the group would be making no personal appearances before the end of the year. So the forecast in the October 7 edition of the NME that the Beatles appearance at the NME Pollwinners Concert in May would be their only British appearance of 1966 seems likely to prove correct.


The Beatles’ much-delayed third film now seems unlikely to go into production in January, as announced in July. Producer Walter Shenson told the NME on Wednesday: “Neither the boys nor I have approved the first draft of the script yet. And even if that is okay, the final script then has to be written. I suppose we could start in February. But we are still not in any hurry to make this picture.

“It would be silly, having waited a year for the right idea, to rush ahead just to meet some previously-announced schedule. Neither the Beatles nor I arc in any hurry. When we do it, it will be right.”

Brian Epstein will be interviewed in the “David Frost Programme” on Rediffusion-TV tonight (Friday) — the edition in which the Four Tops are featured.

But he has made it clear that if the Beatles situation is raised, he has nothing to add to statements he has already made to the effect that nothing has been decided about their future activities.

From New Musical Express – November 11, 1966
From New Musical Express – November 11, 1966


THE Beatles will probably have a new single out in time for Christmas. EMI is hoping to get the group into the studios at the end of this month to record material for a new single which will be rush-released in December in time for the Christmas sales boom.

The Beatles have only one number, “Bad Boy’’, in the can, which will probably be a future LP track. John Lennon returned to Britain last week after filming How I Won The War in Spain. George Harrison is also back and Ringo is expected to return before the end of the month.

They start their new film for producer Walter Shenson in January but a spokesman for the producer told the MM on Monday: “The script has not been finished yet. We are waiting to see it before we can arrange a tentative starting date or even a title for the film.”

Rumours that the Beatles would do no more personal appearances together developed in show business circles this week. And manager Brian Epstein said that nothing had been decided about whether the group would appear together in the future.

The rumours about the Beatles splitting up have been growing for some time and Eastern said this week that he was meeting them shortly to discuss their future. Nems press officer Tony Barrow told the MM at presstime: “We have nothing more to add at the moment to what has already been said.”

From Melody Maker – November 12, 1966
From Melody Maker – November 12, 1966
From Melody Maker – November 12, 1966


NO BRITISH TOUR has yet been planned for the Beatles despite protests by fans outside London’s Saville Theatre Sunday, where Beatles boss Brian Epstein was presenting the Four Tops. BUT a new single is due for release—probably not until AFTER Christmas.

A NEMS spokesman told Disc and Music Echo on Tuesday: “The new Beatles film has been delayed owing to the problem of finding a suitable script. No tour or major commitments can be undertaken until the film is scheduled.

“But when Paul comes back from holiday later this month, the Beatles will make a new single — if not before Christmas, early in January.”

A Beatles LP is out on December 9, however. Tilled “Oldies.” it is a special 16-track Parlophone release of 15 Beatles standards, plus “Bad Boy,” an up-tempo number by Larry Williams.

The Beatles made the track on May 10, 1965. as part of a Capitol Records album called “Beatles VI.” issued in America. Lead singer is John. […]

From Disc And Music Echo – November 19, 1966
From Disc And Music Echo – November 19, 1966


NOW that all four Beatles are back in London – Paul returned this week from a holiday in Kenya – the group will be working on material for their single release. They are due to go into the studios at the end of this month. A single is not now expected to be released until after Christmas.

Beatles press officer Tony Barrow said on Monday that there was no further news on the proposed third film, the script for which has been written by writer Owen Holder.

From Melody Maker – November 26, 1966
From Melody Maker – November 26, 1966

Last updated on December 22, 2023

Going further

The Beatles Diary Volume 1: The Beatles Years

"With greatly expanded text, this is the most revealing and frank personal 30-year chronicle of the group ever written. Insider Barry Miles covers the Beatles story from childhood to the break-up of the group."

We owe a lot to Barry Miles for the creation of those pages, but you really have to buy this book to get all the details - a day to day chronology of what happened to the four Beatles during the Beatles years!

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