- Timeline More from year 1967
- Nice, France
More from year 1967
Filming of “Magical Mystery Tour”
Related master release
Officially appears on Magical Mystery Tour (US LP - Mono)
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.
On September 25, they immediately began the arduous process of editing “Magical Mystery Tour“. Despite initially believing that the editing process would take only a week, it took a total of 11 weeks to complete. During the editing process, they realized that some additional scenes were needed to enhance the film. These scenes were filmed on October 1, October 29, October 31, and November 3.
The day before, October 30, Paul McCartney and Mal Evans travelled to Nice to film a fresh sequence for the song “The Fool On The Hill.” The scene was filmed on this day, October 31, at dawn.
We just asked the local taxi driver, ‘Where is a good place to see the sunrise from?’ Nice was fairly easily accessible. It had good mountain scenery and I figured we might get a good clear sunrise down there. It was the right time of the year. We all piled in the taxi and drove up into the mountains behind Nice. It took us about an hour and sunrise was in about half an hour. We unpacked the stuff from the boot, loaded up his camera, set up the tripod where we knew the sun would rise, and waited in the freezing cold. I had a big long black coat on and we just waited until the the sun arose. And I just danced around and he filmed it.
I just ad-libbed the whole thing. I went, ‘Right, get over there: Let me dance. Let me jump from this rock to this rock. Get a lot of the sun rising. Get a perfect shot and let me stand in front of it.’ I just had a little Philips cassette to mime to and roughly get the feeling of the song. There was no clapper because there was no sound. Just my cassette. I said, ‘We’ll lay in the sound of “Fool on the Hill” afterwards.’ I’m miming sometimes, but of course it should be in synch, that’s what clappers are for. I didn’t know these small technicalities, and also I wasn’t that interested in being that precise.
We stayed until the sun went down. As the day went on, the light got worse. It got to be harsh daylight, so we got less material in the daytime. We basically used all the dawn stuff. And that was it. It was very spontaneous, as was the whole of Magical Mystery Tour. Later, when we came to try to edit it all, it was very difficult because I hadn’t sung it to synch.
We shouldn’t have really had just one cameraman, it was anti-union. That was another reason to go to France. The unions wouldn’t have allowed it in Britain, nor probably in France, but they didn’t know we were doing it. It was just the four of us; there was none of this grips, best boy, gaffer, none of that. In fact, our biggest danger was that the film didn’t conform with one union rule.Paul McCartney – From “Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now” by Barry Miles, 1997
According to Alistair Taylor, McCartney “disappeared” in late October and it was only on his return that the others learned that he had been to France to film a sequence for “The Fool on the Hill”. McCartney flew to Nice with cameraman Aubrey Dewar and filmed the sequence at dawn on 31 October. The location was in the mountains inland from the city. McCartney mimed to the song as Dewar filmed the sunrise. The clip was the only musical segment filmed at an exterior location and using professional photography, and the shoot took place when the rest of the Magical Mystery Tour footage was well into the editing stage. Peter Brown, who was coordinating the Beatles’ business affairs following Epstein’s death, recalled that McCartney phoned him from Nice asking for new camera lenses to be sent out for the shoot. According to Brown, the cost for the location filming was considerable, at £4000. In Taylor’s description, the footage was “terrific” and “really complemented the song”.
The clip shows McCartney in contemplation and cavorting on the hillside. He recalled that he “ad-libbed the whole thing” and that his directions to Dewar were: “Right get over there: Let me dance. Let me dance from this rock to this rock. Get a lot of the sun rising …” According to author Philip Norman, while the non-musical portions of Magical Mystery Tour were uninspired, the “serial pop video” aspect of the TV film succeeds as a “tour through three rapidly emerging solo talents” in Lennon, McCartney and Harrison. He says the sequence for McCartney’s “almost ‘Yesterday‘-size future standard” shows the singer “on a Provençal mountainside, all big brown eyes and turned-up overcoat”. Author Jonathan Gould describes the sequence as “over-lush footage of Paul on a hill … playing the Fool as if the Fool were a model in a fashion ad”.
Last updated on May 7, 2023
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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