On the day "McHale's Navy" opened in theatres, Aug. 5, 1964, a little something long-anticipated by salivating youths entered release, too. The Beatles' first motion picture, "A Hard Day's Night" was one of those items with minimal box office expectations from The Man.
In metropolitan Atlanta, it premiered in 11 drive-ins and five neighborhood hardtops for a one-week run, a sign of no faith from the studio and exhibitors. There was no downtown movie palace prestige and trendy Lenox Square, which had the exclusive claim to all United Artists' films of the era, chose to continue with their 8th hold-over week of UA's surprise success, "The Pink Panther."
"A Hard Day's Night" was dumped into second and third tier venues for quick exploitation, a pattern, reportedly, employed across America. Audiences sought the film anyway and John, George, Paul, and Ringo became A-list movie stars, much to the befuddlement of head-scratching industry executives. "Help" was soon on the way.
My theatre, the Emory, acquired "A Hard Day's Night," the following week. I was excited to see the flick and spent much of my free time watching from the observation window in the manager's office, where I could scrutinize and hear the picture and the crowds.
Much of my working time involved inventing much of my free time.
The main memory I have is the boisterous screaming of the adolescent girls attending the matinees, already a Beatlemania cliché -- but, hey, adolescent girls! (My own teendom was pending, months to come. Zits need not apply.)
One afternoon audience was so noisy, it seems, a 2-by-3-ft. ceiling tile vibrated and dislodged into the second row seats below. No one was hurt. Cool dust POOF!
The Wed-Thurs-Fri-Sat booking ended. It'd been "A Hard Day's Night" and I'd been working like a puppy.
Related: "100 Things About Me #159: Neat, The Beatles" | "100 Things About Me #128: The Flab One Meets the Fab Four" | "A Hard Day's Patsy"
Thanks to Stan Malone