STEVE MATTEO – ACT NATURALLY: THE BEATLES ON FILM
BOOK REVIEW BY AARON BADGLEY
Finding new things to say about The Beatles in 2023 is somewhat difficult, but Steve Matteo has done just that. He takes a deep dive into The Beatles’ films and their impact on the rock and the film world. Matteo has not only thoroughly researched this subject but interviewed many people who discuss the very different aspects of these classic films.
Matteo has interviewed many film people involved with the films, but also film historians. He also corrects some Beatles myths. The real treat, however, is Matteo’s ability to place their films and accompanying soundtracks within the context of the times in which they were released. The brief history of British cinema is very interesting and even the trail of British rock ‘n’ roll films released before A Hard Day’s Night. Who knew that Freddie And The Dreamers beat The Beatles to the big screen? Or that The Beatles considered a short film in 1963 prior to agreeing to A Hard Day’s Night?
Matteo also untangles all of the contract and legal issues, especially around Yellow Submarine and how it did not fulfill their three-film contract with United Artists. It is interesting reading and again digging deep into the film and the soundtrack. But, as with the other films, he doesn’t stop there. He looks at the VHS and DVD releases and the release history for Yellow Submarine is particularly interesting.
This is a much needed and fascinating look into the films of The Beatles, that people know of but know little about. Act Naturally: The Beatles on Film is a well-written and well-researched, and ties everything together quite nicely. Act Naturally: The Beatles on Film will be the ‘go to’ book on this subject in the future.