By this point in the timeline, eight days into the filming of Magical Mystery Tour, the sources I use to tell me what happened on any given day seem to have lost interest. Some have nothing to say at all, and The Beatles Bible offers this one terse sentence:

A number of interior shots were filmed in the enormous hanger [sic] space, including the magicians’ laboratory sequence, Aunt Jessie’s dream, and a sequence for George Harrison’s Blue Jay Way.

You can’t really blame them for not wanting to sink any more effort into a lost cause. I finally forced myself to sit down and watch MMT from beginning to end last night, after putting it off for weeks. I sort of hoped that immersing myself in the gory details might have lowered my expectations to such an extent that I would be pleasantly surprised, but no – it sucked hard.

The main problem is that there is not just no plot, but no characters. It’s never explained who anyone is, beyond “this is Ringo’s aunt” and “this is the bus driver,” so there is no reason to care what they do. The Beatles are there, but they might as well be cardboard cutouts of The Beatles for all the life they exhibit. When they do try to clown around a little in the wizard sequence, you just feel embarrassed for them.

MMT does come to life briefly during the musical sequences. Had it been made as just an extended music video, it might have been pretty good. The Bonzo Dog Band steals the show during their few minutes onscreen performing “Death Cab for Cutie”; that scene also benefits from the performance of stripper Jan Carson, who at least bring a little verve to the proceedings.

In truth, if you subtract the music, MMT is only about a half-hour long. But it seems much, much longer. I feel like a stronger person for having gotten through it.





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