Customer Reviews

127
4.6 out of 5 stars
Good Ol' Freda [Blu-ray]
Format: Blu-rayChange
Price:$11.49 + Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

72 of 72 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2013
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
(HERE'S A LIST OF WHAT COMES WITH THIS PRODUCT.) I am NOT associated nor friends with any of the film's makers nor with the distributor of this Blu-ray / DVD.

* On August 10, 2013, "Good Ol' Freda" was screened at the Fest for Beatles Fans at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare in Chicago. Although the film made its world premiere in March 2013 at the SXSW (South by Southwest) Film Festival in Austin, Texas - the screening in Chicago was the first in front of a huge audience of Fab Four fans, many who traveled thousands of miles to attend, including former Beatles' Fan Club Secretary Freda Kelly herself.

* Director Ryan White's pitch when he approached the surviving Beatles and their wives through their executives at Apple Records was straight-forward: "This is a film about a woman named Freda Kelly who never sold out the Beatles." Translation: If you're looking for a kiss-and-tell documentary about the dirty laundry involving the world's most popular rock and roll band - look elsewhere.

* FEATURE FILM (86 minutes): "Good Ol' Freda" feels like a product approved by the Beatles and released by Apple (even though Magnolia Entertainment is its distributor). It is not a traditional tabloid-style-exposé that critics demand before they anoint it with showers of praise. Instead, the film's appeal has everything to do with the adorability of blue-eyed, brown-haired Freda herself - and her almost pathological, 50-year-aversion to talking about the Beatles. It boasts a killer soundtrack filled with Beatles songs and other material licensed from Apple (stuff that is near impossible for outsiders to obtain), along with images previously never seen.

* The film is visually constructed like a scrapbook of images, whereby the camera is in constant motion, panning and zooming for emphasis, combining interviews with Freda, now 68, going back to visit old haunting grounds in Liverpool (including the Empire Theater, the inside of Ringo's house, etc.) - and wildly wonderful black and white and color footage, some of it familiar (old newsreels) - and some of it brand new (personal stills and clips unearthed from storage). There are interviews with others who were there when it all began, including Tony Barrow, the Beatles' first press secretary (1962-1968) and Billy Kinsley of the Merseybeats.

* Freda Kelly's bond with the Beatles turned into iron when she became the primary conduit between the band and their families, making weekly visits to their homes. Her loyalty never wavered, despite receiving at least six offers to write tell-all books about the in-fighting and the affairs she saw - stuff that, along with her personal collection of memorabilia (most of which she gave away in 1974) - would have made her rich. Today, she still works as an office secretary for an unnamed company to make a living. She still won't talk trash about the Beatles - and her motives for going public, albeit in a non-salacious, non-headline-grabbing way - are revealed late in the film.

* Freda was so hide-bound (despite receiving numerous bribes for information from the British tabloids) - that her own children were almost clueless about their mother's young life until she was well past middle-age. (After the first U.S. screening of "Good Ol' Freda," Freda's daughter Rachel Norris told director Ryan White that "95 percent of the film was completely new to me.")

* The film's final 15 minutes are the most emotionally powerful and gut-wrenching, as the band breaks up - and as the deaths of Brian Epstein, John Lennon, George Harrison, all of the Beatles' parents, two of their wives and many other members of the group's inner circle - are re-counted. Most tragic of all, but unfortunately only alluded to, is the recent death of Freda Kelly's own son Timothy, who goaded her for years to tell her story. His death, along with the birth of her grandson by her daughter Rachel, reluctantly forced Freda to re-think her 50 years of silence.

* Ringo Starr thanks Freda on camera during the film's closing credits, but not Paul McCartney, despite Paul's full endorsement and cooperation. (Without it, no actual Beatle songs would have made it into the final cut. Paul's brother Michael McCartney provided several previously unseen photographs for the film - and Paul's stepmother Angie also agreed to be interviewed on camera.)

* Besides music by the Beatles themselves, the film's spectacular soundtrack includes songs by Little Richard, Buddy Holly, Carl Perkins, the Marvelettes, the Isley Brothers, the Searchers, the Shirelles, Fats Domino, the Drifters, the Cookies and Ketty Lester. (Ironically, Ketty Lester's "Love Letters" - proved to be the most difficult song to license - despite arguably being one of the least familiar names to audiences today.)

* FEATURE FILM WITH COMMENTARY (86 minutes): The same as above but with commentary from Freda Kelly and director Ryan White. This commentary is so good that I watched the film twice, transforming this product - along with the other special features below - into a 221-minute bonanza (3 hours and 41 minutes). According to White, Freda saw the Beatles perform more than 180 times at the Cavern from 1961 to 1963, mostly during the group's lunchtime sessions. She was such a familiar figure that the group knew her even before manager Brian Epstein plucked the then 17-year-old teen to become the band's fan club secretary (1961-1972). In Freda's mind, she was hired to help a "local band" she already liked - handling mail, producing a monthly newsletter and responding to fans - nothing more.

* Despite ultimately handling thousands of fan letters, Freda Kelly still had ZERO idea how famous the Beatles had become - until July 10, 1964 - the day she walked with the Beatles and their families to the balcony of the Liverpool civic center - (it was a welcome home reception held in conjunction with the Northern film premiere of "A Hard Day's Night") - and was hit with a wall of noise from 200,000 screaming fans jammed into the square and onto the adjoining streets below. That experience (which in the film includes Freda returning to that old town hall balcony) - took her breath away.

* The commentary track also includes Freda describing how amazed and touched she was when she learned that the surviving Beatles and their wives had given her four songs to use in "Good Ol' Freda" - "I Saw Her Standing There," "Love Me Do," "I Feel Fine," "I Will" - as well as a long audio cut from the Beatles' 1963 Christmas Record that opens the film. She still seems unable to believe that the surviving Beatles and Apple executives - 50 years later - remember her warmly, and on the commentary track, she goes out of her way to personally thank Paul, Ringo, Yoko Ono Lennon and Olivia Harrison for approving the use of the band's material.

* This is why I say that "Good Ol' Freda" - even without the mega-million-dollar budget of, let's say, "The Beatles Anthology" - still feels like an authorized Beatles' production. Again, remember the director's original pitch: "This is a film about a woman who never sold out the Beatles." In my view, any deviation from this would have caused the doors at Apple to be slammed in Ryan White's face.

* DELETED SCENES (12:36): There are five (5) deleted scenes, the most noteworthy for me includes Freda talking about her own marriage in 1968 while the Beatles were in India - as well as what happened when she learned of John Lennon's murder in December 1980.

* POST-SCREENING Q & A WITH FREDA AND FILMMAKERS AT THE FEST FOR BEATLES FANS IN CHICAGO (22:44): There isn't a lot of new information here, making it an almost dispensable feature. However, unless you were there (I was), you wouldn't know that after the screening, the audience was drenched in tears and could barely compose themselves beyond praising Freda repeatedly. Mark Hudson, rock impresario / producer / tutor and former member of the Hudson Brothers pop group, serenaded Freda with a short verse from the Beatles' "I Will." However, this has been cut from the Q & A footage, possibly because of licensing issues. Despite the dearth of information from this mostly "Thank You, Freda, We Love You, Freda" event - the post-screening footage is a good historical record of Freda Kelly (who is as adorable on stage as she is in the film) - meeting a huge crowd of hard core Beatle fans who showed up just for her. Festival chief Mark Lapidos christens the occasion as being among the most memorable in his 40 years of hosting Beatle conventions in the U.S.

* INTERVIEW WITH DIRECTOR RYAN WHITE (11:17): This outstanding interview reveals the painstaking efforts to get "Good Ol' Freda" made with an initial $50,000 in donations raised from a Kickstarter campaign. After the surviving Beatles and their wives signed off on the project, the word got out and doors opened everywhere, enriching the film's content, expediting its makers' ability to get more footage elsewhere and to license songs by artists from competing record labels. (Most of these songs were later covered by the Beatles on their "Please, Please Me" album released in the U.K. in March 1963 by Parlophone - and on their "Introducing the Beatles" album released in America in January 1964 by Vee-Jay Records.)

* These successes added momentum and a sense of inevitability that "Good Ol' Freda" would become a reality in just three years. (Contextual note: In 2012, the makers of the AMC television drama, "Mad Men," reportedly paid $250,000 to Apple to use less than two minutes of "Tomorrow Never Knows" from the Beatles' album, "Revolver." Without saying how much, director Ryan White infers on the previously mentioned commentary track that NO WAY did his production have to fork over millions to use the four Beatle songs, the lengthy audio cut from the Beatles' 1963 Christmas Record - where Freda is directly mentioned - and for the footage and stills which also appear in the film.)

* PHOTO GALLERY: This section features eleven (11) striking images of Freda, including a 1968 congratulatory wedding telegram sent to her by John and Cynthia (Powell) Lennon and George and Patti (Boyd) Harrison.

* TRAILER (2:31): This theatrical trailer was issued by Magnolia Entertainment in conjunction with the Motion Picture Association of America. It can be viewed all over the Internet.

* What "Good Ol' Freda" lacks in new information is made up, in my view - with a surprisingly emotional story about a shy little secretary's personal recollections of being in the center of a culturally and historically important hurricane - and how she got to stay there for 11 years. In the end, this film feels like a sparkling, five-star gift for Beatles fans around the world.
review image review image review image
1212 commentsWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
I watched this at The Fest For Beatles Fans in Chicago before its release. Freda was there, too, and it was awesome! It's amazing how she has kept so private all these years and I really admire her fierce loyalty to the Beatles and their privacy. She told about her weekly visits with Ringo's mother, who became like a mother to her. We get an insight into Beatles manager, Brian Epstein, and how he hand-picked Freda at only 17 to take care of the boys. What a fascinating 10+ years that must have been! Best Beatles-related movie I've ever seen.
11 commentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 2013
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
I will start by saying I'm a huge Beatles fan.
And like most huge Beatles fans I've watched many documentaries, good and bad, about them.
And just when I thought I had seen it all comes this breath of fresh air.
A true gem.
Amazing to see the rise of the group from a humble perspective.
A MUST see!
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on September 10, 2013
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
Good Ol' Freda is simply amazing. Freda has kept these secrets for 50 years. She could have profited and became rich but instead remained loyal to those around her. A wonderful person with a wonderful story. A must see even for the casual fan of Beatlemania.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Format: Blu-ray
First, an important caution when reading reviews of this product. Amazon has a policy of grouping all reviews of all formats of a film (theater, Amazon Instant DVD, BD) together. As I submit this review there are already 23 reviews posted, only one of which is of the DVD or Bluray. So, I always suggest to look to see which product is being reviewed and to look for the date of the review. That will guide you best. Now on to my review of the Bluray.

Of the thousands of reviews I’ve written for Amazon I’ve rarely – if ever – felt that there was another review of a product that covered practically everything one could say about it. But after reading David Kusumoto’s review of the Bluray/DVD release of this film, I have to send you there for a thorough and well-written review. I’ll try to add a few more facts and my take on the film and the package.

“Good Ol’ Freda” started making the film festival circuit in early 2013 and played at the WXPN Music Film Festival in Philadelphia in April 2013. I missed that one shot chance to catch it, but heard great things from friends and was anxious for the home video release. Magnolia films has been making a name for itself in releasing music related documentaries (“Muscle Shoals” was also at the April WXPN festival – and I did catch it and it’s great – and Magnolia will be releasing it in January (hopefully with lots of bonuses). But back to Freda.

As David pointed out in his review, there is a wonderful commentary track that reveals more stories than are shone in the film. But, remember that Freda was a loyal dedicated secretary for 11 years (one year LONGER than the Beatles were together as a band) and no real secrets are revealed. But, when she discusses the parents of the “boys” – especially weekly teas with Ringo’s mom (she only refers to Ringo as “Ringo” in the Q&A at at Beatlefest - included as a bonus; in the film he is always called “Richie” and Brian Epstein is called “Eppie” - you get a deeper feeling for the family life of the Fab Four.

In one of the bonus interviews with the Director of the film, we learn that he shot 50 hours of film and says that he hopes that much of it would be on the DVD release. But there are only five scenes totaling just 12 minutes. (I’m not complaining – just commenting).

As noted by others – four Beatles songs are included in the soundtrack, along with a bunch of classic songs that the Beatles covered (by Arthurs Alexander, The Chiffons, Marvelettes) including the most expensive to license: Ketty Lester’s “Love Letters”. Oddly enough the Lester recording was not remastered and has lots of “crackle”. Surely they could have found a better copy to use. (again, a comment, not a complaint.

So, in summary, all Beatles fans will want this Bluray, even if you have seen the film at a festival. And, even if you are a casual music listener who grew up with their music, you’ll find the 87-minute film and its bonuses, worth watching.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
“Anything Phonographic”
11 commentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2013
Format: DVD
I can't imagine any Beatles fan not simply loving this warm little film from opening to closing credits... especially if you're old enough to remember as a kid seeing Freda's name all the time, even here in the States. If you're of a certain age, you'll feel it as well as see it.

What impressed me most is how one goes into the film expecting yet another Beatles documentary, but ending up so tremendously taken with the woman herself. To have been at the very center of the pop universe for a decade and come out of it as such a humble and unpretentious person is endlessly impressive. You just want to hug her.

And it's so evocative of Liverpool, a place all Beatle people should visit. Equally as distinctive a community of people as Cockneys, you'll see immediately where the Beatles' humor came from.

Highly, highly recommended... and for those of us who remember seeing them on the Ed Sullivan show, surprisingly emotional in a very sweet way...

Buy it, because the extra of Freda's appearance at a Beatles convention is heartwarming. Very special.

A knockout of a film, it really is.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on September 8, 2013
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
This is a good, low-budget documentary about a key individual in the Beatles' history that has her own story to tell. To fans of the Beatles, it will be interesting and is worthy of your time. Freda's story is unique, but seems a little thin on the big screen. It appears that the setting of the main interview is in her home. The doc has a home-video/scrapbooky feel to it that likely represents the funding that could be obtained to screen it at all. I appreciated the opportunity to hear Freda's story, such as it is. Hope you enjoy it also!
33 commentsWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2013
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
A unique viewpoint and highlights moral traits like honesty, trust and reliability in people - things we don't hear much about anymore. It's nice when someone's rewarded for being GOOD. Great pics from her collection - she was cute!!
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 2013
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
I've been a Beatles fan since the day I heard them in 1964. I have may books and videos about them, and have learned new things after watching this movie. It was riveting, and compelling. I highly recommend it to any Beatles fan.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 15, 2014
Format: DVD
"Who'd want to hear a secretary's story?" asks the modest Liverpudlian woman who still works as a secretary (albeit just an ordinary one now), more than fifty years after beginning what she calls her "exciting ten-year ride" as the secretary in charge of the Beatles' official British fan club in 1962, at the age of 17. Freda Kelly, from the south side of Liverpool (the same area as the Beatles, whom she would regularly go see play at the Cavern), was plucked from her typing pool a year out of school to come work as Brian Epstein's secretary and handle the fan mail for his hottest local group. Within a few months, the Beatles would be a national phenomenon; and within a year and a half, the biggest act in the world, pulling in some 3000 fan letters a day to her little office.

While Freda may never have been the mythical "fifth Beatle," she was like the Fab Four's "little sister," given her closeness to them and their families from their Liverpool days (which would have made any romance with a Beatle quasi incestuous; however, she does admit to a passing involvement with a Moody Blue!). It so happens that she slept in Ringo's (called "Ritchie" growing up) bed on occasion, but only while he was away, as this girl who grew up motherless was virtually taken in as a family member by Ringo's mum, Elsie Starkey, kind of like "the daughter she didn't have." The Harrisons also adored her and insisted on teaching her ballroom dancing, while Jim McCartney (Paul's dad) taught her about finer foods and beverages. And John's Aunt Mimi was "old school" (quite reserved and proper), much like her own father. It is this level of intimacy and insight that elevates this very well assembled documentary by Ryan White to something special.

Much of the film consists of the present-day Freda sitting on her living room couch being interviewed, or else exploring memorabilia in her attic (noting that if she hadn't given almost everything away back in the '70s, she'd be a millionairess instead of still working secretarial jobs into her late sixties). Her recollections do cover some new ground, but it was looking as though this very private family woman with a deceased son, a grown daughter and a grandchild was never going to go public about her distant past life and times with the Beatles. Even her daughter only knew about 5% of her mother's story before seeing the completed film. There are quite a few terrific film clips and still photos (much more of the latter than the former) used in this documentary that one is unlikely to have seen before; and the soundtrack is vintage mostly early sixties stuff, including, believe it or not, extended excerpts of several early Beatles records. As the filmmaker Ryan White tells it, it was only due to the personal participation of the beloved Freda Kelly in this project that any of the licensing rights to Beatles recordings were granted.

What you won't get is any kind of dirt at all on the Fab Four. Freda is as loyal and protective of them as she ever was, which was how she lasted in her post (while others were being routinely "sacked") throughout their entire run -- in addition to her having run "a tight ship" of an office.

The special DVD features, including Freda's commentary, while still delightful, are a bit on the repetitious side, making one appreciate even more how well edited this documentary in its released form really is.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
     
 
Customers who viewed this also viewed
Muscle Shoals [Blu-ray]
Muscle Shoals [Blu-ray] by Rick Hall (Blu-ray - 2014)
$11.49


Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me
Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me by Jon Auer (DVD - 2013)
$8.39
 
     

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.

Your Recently Viewed Items and Featured Recommendations 
 

After viewing product detail pages, look here to find an easy way to navigate back to pages you are interested in.