Magical Mystery Tour was the third Beatles movie, built up to be the television event of the 1967 Christmas season.
That was until people actually watched it.
Originally screened on BBC 1 in the UK on December 26, 1967, the film clocked in just shy of an hour. Though it was shot in color, the "Beeb" broadcast was in dreary black and white.
Reviews were decidedly unkind.
BBC 2 gave it a whirl in its intended color format a few days later, but the damage was already done. The music fared much better with the public. I didn't quite rate it as their finest hour (the original six song EP).
Plans to televise MMT in the US quickly went up in smoke. No proper North American theatrical release happened until the mid seventies and even that was limited. VHS copies began to surface in the eighties, long after it had pretty much gained status as a cult item. More folks had read about it than those who had seen this rare bit of Beatle history. By the nineties, both a laserdisc (1992) and DVD (1997) version hit the marketplace, coupled with The Beatles Anthology series, further raising the visibility of this former curio.
Here we are in 2012 and the Mystery Tour has been polished up/restored for worldwide DVD and Blu-Ray release on October 8th! The collectors edition may just be the version that I scoop up.
"Ladies and gentlemen, what you are about to see is the product of our imaginations and believe me, at this point they are quite vivid"
Nice PR talk track, Paul. "Mystery tripping out of our fucking minds on LSD" is more like it.
To be fair, while MMT is not Oscar worthy material, there are flashes of brilliance. Aunt Jessie's dream sequence is sadistic, the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band performance with the stripper is bizarre (Viv Stanshall's Elvis inflected vocal is insane) and the visuals that accompany the soundtrack are pretty cool. How about that Busby Berkeley homage for the big finish?
Hey, the Bonzo's tune, "Death Cab For Cutie", even provided a shitty contemporary band with their name. So it's win-win!
There is a hint of the whimsy that the Python troupe would eventually bring to television, though it lacks the cerebral, comedic structure within the silliness. Containing a few laughs, two exceptional tunes ("Fool On the Hill" and "I Am the Walrus") and some wild editing, it is worth a look.
Don't you want to see this film now? Living in the golden age of YouTube allows for a sneak preview. Pack a bowl before you do, as everything will make much more sense.
Should you also happen to own a vinyl copy of MMT, grab it and hold the front cover up to a mirror.
A phone number will magically appear in the stars that spell out BEATLES.
Dial it up. I double dare you!
The person who answers will be waiting for your call...