- Timeline This film has been released in 1967
- Release date:
- Feb 16, 1967
- Filming date:
- Feb 05 and 07, 1967
- Filming location:
- Knole Park, Sevenoaks, UK
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The Beatles’ low public profile since completing their 1966 US tour in late August caused concern for Brian Epstein, their manager, who feared that the band’s popularity might suffer. Wary also of the threat presented by the Monkees, an American television and recording act formed in the Beatles’ image, Epstein conceded to pressure from EMI in January 1967 and approached Martin for a new single by the band. Martin told him that they had recorded “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane”, which he considered to be the group’s best songs up to that point.
The promotional film for “Penny Lane” was, together with the clip for “Strawberry Fields Forever”, one of the first examples of what became known as a music video. The films were directed by Peter Goldmann, a Swedish television director, and produced by Tony Bramwell for Epstein’s company Subafilms. The clip for “Penny Lane” includes footage of Liverpool – such as the number 46 bus to Penny Lane, the shelter on the roundabout, and a fireman riding a white horse – but street scenes featuring the Beatles were instead filmed in and around Angel Lane in Stratford, in the east of London. This filming includes the band members riding horses and took place on 5 February. Another street scene features only Lennon, walking along King’s Road, Chelsea among a crowd in a manner that author Robert Rodriguez terms “as if in a nostalgic reverie”.
More filming was done in Knole Park in Sevenoaks, where the clip for “Strawberry Fields Forever” had been filmed the week before. Shot on 7 February, this footage includes further horse-riding scenes, with the band members dressed in matching red tunics, and the closing scene, when they arrive at a table set up in the park, bearing a large candelabra. During the horse ride, they pass by a stage filled with their guitars and drum kit, the latter bearing the familiar Beatles logo. The musicians sit at the table, where they are waited on by two attendants (played by Bramwell and Mal Evans) dressed in Renaissance-era costumes and wigs, and presented with their musical instruments. According to music critic Chris Ingham, the film appears to be “little more than an extra-curricular afterthought” relative to the surreal and experimental “Strawberry Fields Forever” clip. He adds that it nevertheless closes with “another iconoclastic gesture” as Lennon overturns the table and scatters its contents.
In their avoidance of any performance-related content, the clips developed the promotional medium the Beatles had introduced in 1966 with their clips for “Paperback Writer” and “Rain“. According to Hertsgaard, since the band avoided any attempt to play or sing, the clip for “Penny Lane” consists of images that “amplify or somehow comment on” the song’s themes. He says the “most arresting” scenes are Lennon’s walk along the sun-lit city street, the Beatles riding their horses through a stone archway, and the four band members “sitting at an immaculately set table in the middle of a field, where they are served tea in what is very plainly bitterly cold weather”. Journalist and broadcaster Joe Cushley described the film as “Lewis-Carroll-goes-to-Liverpool”. McCartney predicted at the time of the single’s release: “In the future all records will have vision as well as sound. In twenty years time, people will be amazed to think we just listened to records.”
How in the world could I make something funny, bizarre, clever, crazy, sophisticated enough to satisfy The Beatles? It was in the plane that I came up with the idea of the horses.Peter Goldmann – From the liner notes of The Beatles’ 1+ Video Collection, 2015
From the liner notes of The Beatles’ 1+ Video Collection, 2015:
Two days after recording some overdubs for ‘A Day In The Life’, The Beatles spent the afternoon ln East London at Angel Lane, Stratford, filming scenes for the video of ‘Penny Lane’. Scandinavian director Peter Goldmann had worked in Swedish TV and was introduced to the band by mutual friend, Klaus Voormann. Peter later told the Swedish magazine Vecko-Revyn, “Everything went so fast, it wasn’t until I sat on the plane for London I realized what I was up to.”
A few days before filming started for ‘Penny Lane’, Goldmann shot a promo for ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’. Both shoots presented a challenge for everyone involved owing to the Musicians’ Union ban on any action that could be construed as miming. Despite these limitations, both the films Goldmann made were so innovative that neither would have looked out of place on MTV a decade and a half later.
Two days after the East London shoot Goldmann and The Beatles headed to Knole Park, the grounds of a stately
home in Kent, to film scenes of the band horse-riding in the countryside. ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ had been shot at the same location a week earlier. Around this time, Goldmann and his crew (but minus The Beatles) travelled to Liverpool to shoot the sequences near to Penny Lane.
The edit must have been completed quite rapidly because the first known transmission of the ‘Penny Lane’ film
was on the BBC’s JukeBox Jury on 11 February 1967, when an extract of a little over a minute in length was shown. Four days later, the film was broadcast in its entirety on Top of the Pops and on 25 February it aired on
The Hollywood Palace.
Beatles on ‘Top of Pops’ — date set!
BEATLES are expected on BBC-TV’s “Top Of The Pops” on February 16 to promote their double single “Strawberry Fields For Ever” and “Penny Lane” which is released the next day.
Brian Epstein revealed to Disc and Music Echo that the boys spent Tuesday this week filming in the Kent countryside with Swedish TV film Peter Goldmann. Some of this film will be used for their “Top Of The Pops” appearance. Other clips may also be seen in America.
A TV spectacular featuring the group is to be based around their next album.
On Sunday, Beatles John and Paul joined Epstein in his box at London’s Saville Theatre to watch the Jimi Hendrix Experience and the Who.From Disc And Music Echo – February 4, 1967
BEATLES FILM CLIPS
A film clip of THE BEATLES singing “Penny Lane” will not be shown on “Juke Box Jury” this Saturday as the BBC did not agree to show the clip in full. Clips of both titles be shown on “Top Of The Pops” next Thursday (16) but will not be shown this week.
Negotiations are currently in progress for Regional stations such as Southern TV and Granada to show the film clips.
EMI Records announce the renewal of their contract with the Beatles. The new contract for nine years has been signed by Sir Joseph Lockwood, head of EMI Records Ltd and Beatles manager Brian Epstein.
The release of the first Beatle record “Love Me Do” was in October 1962 and that sold 100,000 copies. With the Gold Discs for their several million sellers, total world sales add up to 180,000,000 (that is in converting to single units as an LP counting as 6 singles and an EP as four). The announcement of the new contract ties up with the release of their first single of 1967, on Parlophone, of “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields Forever”.
Last updated on January 22, 2023
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