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The Compleat Beatles [VHS] (1984)

John Lennon , Paul McCartney , Patrick Montgomery  |  NR |  VHS Tape
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Malcolm McDowell
  • Directors: Patrick Montgomery
  • Writers: David Silver
  • Producers: Patrick Montgomery, Stephanie Bennett
  • Format: Black & White, Color, NTSC, Full Screen
  • Language: English
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: MGM/UA
  • VHS Release Date: July 1, 1991
  • Run Time: 119 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6301966376
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #67,768 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
My Beatles education began here! Malcolm McDowell narrates this two hour documentary which came out two years after John Lennon's death. This became Beatles 101 for me, and when I first saw it in 1987 while studying calculus at a friend's house, I knew I had to get more of their stuff instead of just their greatest hits. There's lots of musical footage from their shows, the Hard Day's Night and Let It Be movie, press conferences, photo stills, and more than enough Beatles tunes played over the video.
The documentary goes into a brief history of rock, and how the skiffle craze hit the UK. All teenagers, including the Beatles got into it, including John, frontman of the Quarrymen, and Paul and George, who later joined him. It's a wonder they survived the indifferent clubs and six hour sets in Hamburg's red-light district, and I suffered along with them, but lo and behold, when "Please Please Me" became a hit, I cheered along--yes, you got it made! It's more or less in two parts--from their birth to Rubber Soul, and their creative time from Revolver to Abbey Road.
If anything, George Martin is given prominence here, as he played a vital role in turning them from mop-top pretty boys to artists unafraid to experiment with new sounds. He tells how he recorded a string quartet around Paul's "Yesterday," how he got the LSO piccolo trumpet player to play on "Penny Lane" after Paul saw a concert with the instrument, and the swirling organ sound in "Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite." My favourite bit was how "Strawberry Fields Forever" became the tune it was, and I've appreciated that song ever since. He sheds so much light on the Beatles and the recording process, it's incredible!
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars YEAH, YEAH, YEAH, YEAH... June 5, 2002
Format:VHS Tape
This is a marvelous documentary of the rock band that literally rocked the world, The Beatles. This film, which features both black and white as well as color segments, is a tribute to the Fab Four. It details their rise from their humble origins in the grim, port city of Liverpool, England to the unparalleled heights of international fame.

The film takes the viewer on a trip down memory lane, showing how The Beatles first started, and where it all began. It grounds their inauspicious beginnings in the context of the music world of the time. It shows the influence of American music on the youth of England, who, in turn, would end up influencing the youth of the United States in ways that could not have been foreseen. The Beatles were to be the catalyst for the rising success of British pop stars who would dominate the music industry years to come.

There is some very early footage of The Beatles in their earliest incarnations as the Quarrymen and the Silver Beetles. There is also footage of Stuart Sutcliffe, a former band member and friend, who died early in the band's career. There is also footage of their original drummer, hunky Pete Best. The film details the reason for the change in drummers, as well as the role each member played in the group.

From Liverpool to Germany to the United States for their record shattering debut on the Ed Sullivan variety show, this film captures it all. The film also showa the musical development of the group, as well as the forces that were to later drive them apart. It expertly details the beginning and the end of the greatest and most inflential rock band to ever grace the music world.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I Can't Believe This Isn't on DVD October 3, 2005
Format:VHS Tape
Back in the middle 1980s, if you were a Beatles fan this was one of your few choices in full-length home video. The misleadingly titled 'Compleat Beatles' was one of the first direct-to-video rockumentaries to later be broadcast on PBS and cable TV, and it was accompanied by a two-volume set of books containing sheet music. (The books were available separately.)

Nostalgia aside, there isn't much here that isn't covered in more depth in 'The Beatles Anthology.' Evidentally, the film makers couldn't acquire the rights to use actual film footage from either 'Magical Mystery Tour' or 'Help!' and so these films are represented by movie stills. Very little concert footage remains, and most of that consists of audience reaction shots. It's maddening how, after Ed Sullivan introduces the Beatles we are shown only reaction shots and hear a remixed studio recording of 'All My Loving' instead of the live version. There are no interviews with the Beatles themselves, save for old footage taped during the group's heyday. And few, if any songs appear without narration or some other intrusion.

On the positive side (and perhaps I am being generous here) are some first-rate interviews with the Beatles' original manager, George Martin, Gerry from Gerry and the Pacemakers, Marianne Faithful, and Billy Preston (among others). To my knowledge, these interviews were originally intended for 'The Long And Winding Road,' which would have been a rockumentary similar to 'Anthology' except completed in the late 1970s. Indeed, it seems that 'The Compleat Beatles' was made solely to salvage the hard work already done on 'The Long and Winding Road.'

I would like to see this film issued on DVD anyway, because there's a chance that more of these exclusive interviews might make their way onto the disc as extras. 'The Compleat Beatles' may not be as memorable a rockumentary as 'Hail! Hail! Rock and Roll!' but it doesn't deserve its out-of-print status either.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great history lesson on the best group ever
If you want to learn the history of the Beatles this is a great way to get informed. There is also a 2 part book with all the Beatles' songs, sheet music and lyrics. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Lea Kayson
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Intro to The Beatles
I grew up watching this documentary and it still holds up as a great introduction to The Beatles! Very well produced.
Published 7 months ago by Ben A. of Seattle
4.0 out of 5 stars Great show!
this program is the quintessential look at the band that changed the world. The music is great, and the insight is intriguing
Published 13 months ago by Kenton R. Comer
5.0 out of 5 stars The Compleat Beatles [VHS]
This is a really good VHS about the Beatles. It's too bad it's not on DVD. I have to go to someone's home to watch it.
Published 13 months ago by Peace
5.0 out of 5 stars the compleat beatles
the compleat Beatles is awesome. right up there with the Anthology's.i remember when it came out in the 80's n it is still Fab
Published 15 months ago by beatle5
5.0 out of 5 stars Still the best Beatles primer
Coming out in the '80's with a companion book, this was the first meaningful Beatles documentary, apres le deluge, as it were. Read more
Published 16 months ago by lbrlartist
3.0 out of 5 stars Just A Correction
George Martin wasn't the manager of the Beatles, he was their producer--big difference. The only bonafide "group manager" Fab Four ever had was Brian Epstein. Read more
Published 17 months ago by John E. Fink
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Compleat But Excellent
I watched this one for the first time last night since my VHS version was in storage since my house was being renovated. Read more
Published 19 months ago by David D. McFarland
5.0 out of 5 stars The first and still the best
This is the first and still finest Beatles documentary available. Period. Sorry Anthology, you're pretty good but not as good as this one. This one reigns supreme. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Shklumfmeister
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Even After The Release Of Anthology
This was great to watch when it came out and done very well. Of course later on we would get Anthology which would have the Beatles themselves telling their story, but... Read more
Published on March 22, 2012 by RJM Music Man
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