Elvis Presley Destroyed The Beatles’ ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ at the Box Office
The Beatles‘ A Hard Day’s Night came out the same year as an iconic Elvis Presley movie. Elvis’ vehicle was the bigger hit. Subsequently, Paul McCartney revealed what he thought about A Hard Day’s Night.
The Beatles’ ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ didn’t end Elvis Presley’s time in the limelight
The 1964 film A Hard Day’s Night has a lot to offer: decent comedy, interesting locations, and some of the best pop songs ever written. Elvis’ Viva Las Vegas has a lot of the same things. Apparently, the latter connected more with audiences at the time.
The 2019 book The Mighty Elvis: A Graphic Biography reports Viva Las Vegas outranked A Hard Day’s Night at the box office. The usual narrative surrounding Elvis’ career is that it went downhill once The Beatles broke through in the United States. Viva Las Vegas proves he was still relevant after the Fab Four made their impact on the American charts.
Elvis Presley’s ‘Viva Las Vegas’ might have been more popular because it had better music
There are many possible reasons why Viva Las Vegas overshadowed A Hard Day’s Night. Perhaps it was because the former is in glorious Metrocolor while the latter is in drab black-and-white. In addition, Ann-Margret’s dynamite performance certainly didn’t hurt.
On another level, the title song from Viva Las Vegas might be better than anything on the soundtrack of A Hard Day’s Night. Sure, that soundtrack has classics like “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Can’t Buy Me Love,” but “Viva Las Vegas” outshines them. The latter is a great combination of bossa nova music, rock ‘n’ roll, and Elvis’ belting vocals.
Why Paul McCartney felt The Beatles’ ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ was so good
Regardless of the films’ box office performance, Paul had fond memories of A Hard Day’s Night. In the 1997 book Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now, he discussed what he believed made the film special. “The nice thing about Hard Day’s Night was that there were very good people involved in it: Dick Lester, who made The Running Jumping Standing Still Film [sic] with Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan, producer Walter Shenson and Alun Owen,” he said. “They called in Alun Owen, who had written No Trams to Lime Street with Billie Whitelaw, which we’d seen on telly and was like an early [Alan] Bleasdale or Willy Russell. It was a sort of kitchen-sink [realism] Liverpool thing.
“Billie Whitelaw’s always in some sort of weird, rather well-thought-of play, she’s built a whole thing like that,” he added. “So Alun was a good choice and Alun was from Wales, and it’s often said that Liverpool is the capital of Wales, there are so many Welsh people there. Alun came and hung around with us for a few days, which was an idea we’d picked up from Life magazine, who did it.” In Paul’s opinion, Life was like the Bible for British bands.
A Hard Day’s Night became a classic even if the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll dominated the box office.