There are many things to watch if you love The Beatles, but what if you miss Beatlemania? The phenomenon started in 1963 when the band’s success started to mount in the U.K. and Europe. Then, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” became The Beatles’ first No. 1 single in the U.S., and their popularity worldwide skyrocketed.
Suddenly, they couldn’t go anywhere without having crowds of girls storm after them trying to pull locks of hair from their heads. Here’s what to watch if you miss the days when massive crowds showed their often rambunctious love and support for the band—even if that meant trying to climb the walls of Buckingham Palace.
‘The Beatles Anthology’
The Beatles Anthology is always a great place to start for all Beatles-related things, including Beatlemania. The eight-part documentary was made by The Beatles and told by The Beatles. They created the massive project, including three double disc CDs and a book, because they wanted to tell their story in their own words.
Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, and old videos of John Lennon discuss the good and the bad of Beatlemania. For the most part, the band had a terrible time going from hotel to car to plane, trying to get by all the screaming girls. However, being cooped up in hotel rooms brought the band together. They bonded and wouldn’t have made it out without each other.
‘A Hard Day’s Night’
Although The Beatles’ first feature film is fiction, it’s not entirely. Each of the bandmember’s personalities might’ve been exaggerated, but A Hard Day’s Night captures a pretty accurate day in the life of a Beatle. The Beatles were never chased on the streets, but they were swarmed, trying to get onto every mode of transportation. The screaming girls in the theater weren’t far from what the band had to experience every time they played.
At least The Beatles didn’t have a sneaky old man making matters worse for them. Although, maybe if they constantly had to look after one of their grandfathers in the midst of Beatlemania, it would’ve pushed them to quit touring sooner.
‘The Beatles: The First U.S. Visit’
Watch The Beatles: The First U.S. Visit if you want to see what really happened in Beatlemania, specifically when The Beatles landed in America. It’s the real-life version of A Hard Day’s Night. The 1990 film is a re-edited version of footage taken by filmmaking team Albert and David Maysles for their 1964 documentary, What’s Happening! The Beatles in the U.S.A. The Beatles clown around a lot, just like in A Hard Day’s Night. However, the filmmakers captured some serious moments behind the scenes.
The Beatles: The First U.S. Visit has some of the rawest footage of The Beatles. It’s The Beatles as they were, just like in Let It Be or Peter Jackson’s The Beatles: Get Back.
‘Eight Days a Week’
Ron Howard’s 2016 documentary Eight Days a Week examines The Beatles’ touring years from 1962 to 1966. The film touches on some of the best and worst moments for the band as they toured through the often hectic and dangerous Beatlemania. Everywhere they went, hoards of people mobbed them.
Eight Days a Week does a great job honing in on those years and what they were all about. It was an important era for The Beatles, but one they gladly ended in 1966. Howard had the cooperation of surviving Beatles Paul, Ringo Starr, and Beatles widows Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison.
If you want to watch a film about the other side of Beatlemania, put 1978’s I Wanna Hold Your Hand at the top of your queue. It shows a dramatized version of a fan’s story. The comedy follows a group of friends who figure out how to sneak into The Beatles’ hotel room during their first trip to America. One of them actually gets as far as the band’s room and has to hide under their bed when they enter.
Somehow, all the friends reunite after their epic time, trying to avoid getting caught. The ultimate reward for their troubles is seeing The Beatles perform on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Beatlemania wasn’t always the best for The Beatles, but it was special for those who lived through it. It was mostly about coming together to show the band how much they were loved. Not everyone went to the lengths the friends in I Wanna Hold Your Hand tried going to. Some passed out; some scaled the walls of fences to get to the group. That shows how much The Beatles were loved. It was a phenomenon few understand even now.