Filming of “Magical Mystery Tour” • Day 9

Thursday, September 21, 1967
Timeline More from year 1967
Location:
West Malling Air Station, Maidstone, Kent, UK

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Magical Mystery Tour (TV Special)

1967 • For The Beatles • Directed by The Beatles

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Production of The Beatles’ “Magical Mystery Tour” TV special took place throughout September 1967, with some additional scenes filmed in late October / early November. The first leg of filming occurred from September 11 to 15 in and around Newquay. On September 18, filming resumed with the crew choosing the Raymond Revuebar strip club in London’s Soho district as the location for the day’s shoot. From September 19 to 24, the Beatles relocated to West Malling Air Station in Maidstone, Kent, where they filmed interior and exterior shots for the project.


The sequence for George Harrison’s mesmerizing track, “Blue Jay Way,” was the focus of this third day of filming at West Malling Air Station.

The sequence begins with George Harrison standing on a foggy hilltop, singing the haunting lyrics of the song, “There’s a fog upon L.A., And my friends have lost their way.” As the sequence progresses, the camera pans across the eerie landscape, revealing a group of people lost in the fog, including the Beatles themselves. Additional scenes for the “Blue Jay Way” sequence were filmed on November 3, 1967.

From Wikipedia:

[Blue Jay Way]’s segment in Magical Mystery Tour was shot mainly at RAF West Malling, an air force base near Maidstone in Kent, during the week beginning on 19 September. Described by Womack as “the movie’s hazy, psychedelic sequence”, it features Harrison sitting on a pavement and playing a chalk-drawn keyboard. Dressed in a red suit, he is shown busking on a roadside; next to his keyboard are a white plastic cup and a message written in chalk, reading: “2 wives and kid to support”. The depiction of Harrison, seated cross-legged, matched his public image as the most committed of the Beatles to Transcendental Meditation and Eastern philosophy.

The filming took place in an aircraft hangar, with the scene designed to re-create a typically smog-ridden Los Angeles. Music journalist Kit O’Toole writes that the smoke surrounding Harrison “almost engulf[s] him, mimicking the ‘fog’ described in the lyrics”. Through the use of prismatic photography, the “Blue Jay Way” segment also shows Harrison’s “image refracted as if seen through a fly’s eye”, according to author Alan Clayson, who describes the scene as mirroring “the requisite misty atmosphere” suggested by the recording. In its preview of Magical Mystery Tour in 1967, the NME highlighted the segment as one of the film’s “extremely clever” musical sequences, saying: “For ‘Blue Jay Way’ George is seen sitting cross-legged in a sweating mist which materialises into a variety of shapes and patterns. It’s a pity that most TV viewers will be able to see it only in black and white.”

At other times during the sequence, the four Beatles alternate in the role of a solo cellist. These scenes were filmed on 3 November, on the back rockery at Sunny Heights, Starr’s house in Weybridge, Surrey. Tony Barrow, the band’s press officer, recalled that as “a colourful conclusion” to the segment, they set off fireworks that had been bought for the upcoming Guy Fawkes Night celebrations. The version of “Blue Jay Way” appearing in the 2012 DVD release of Magical Mystery Tour is an alternative edit and includes some previously unused footage. O’Toole admires the “Blue Jay Way” sequence as “one of the film’s too-few bright spots” and “a perfect representation of the track’s hallucinatory qualities”.

Filming at West Malling Air Station continued the following day.



From Magical Mystery Tour | The Beatles

DateScenes filmed
September 19Aunt Jessie’s dreadful dream, including the scene where John Lennon serves spaghetti using a shovel.
September 20I Am The Walrus” sequence and the scenes with the Beatles wearing wizard outfits
September 21Blue Jay Way” sequence
September 22“Barking Seargent” sequence with Victor Spinetti.
The sequence where Jolly Jimmy welcomes people who have crawled inside the magic tent to watch “Blue Jay Way
The sequence where Ringo Starr buys his ticket for the Magical Mystery Tour.
September 23“Magical Mystery Tour Marathon” scenes, with the cheating vicars, the mini-coopers…
September 24Scene with Mr. Bloodvessel performing “I’m Going In A Field” at the organ (unused)
Scene for “Your Mother Should Know
Schedule of sequences filmed at West Malling Air Station, based on details given in the 2012 reissue of “Magical Mystery Tour” film

Last updated on May 13, 2023

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