Roll Up! "Magical Mystery Tour" gets U.S. TV debut

Fri Dec 14, 2012 2:14pm EST
 
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By Matt Hurwitz

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Give four pop stars turned hippies a movie camera in 1967 and what do you get? The Beatles' "Magical Mystery Tour" film, which will receive its long-awaited U.S. broadcast television debut on Friday on PBS.

Long a curiosity in the United States, the film will be accompanied by a new documentary about its making. A restored version was released on DVD and blu-ray in October.

The third film for The Fab Four, after a "A Hard Day's Night" in 1964 and "Help!" a year later, "Magical Mystery Tour" is a shambolic trip through the English countryside on a bus filled with odd characters, but thin on plot. It first aired on BBC television the day after Christmas 1967.

Although it was initially panned by British critics, time has delivered some justice to the project, Jonathan Clyde, the producer of the documentary, told Reuters.

"'Magical Mystery Tour' has always been the black sheep of the Beatles family, but I think it's been rehabilitated into the Beatles canon," Clyde said. "It's no longer the 'mad uncle in the attic' that nobody wants to talk about. It's been let out."

In the United States, little was known about the film at the time of its release.

Beatles fans only had the album of music, or saw a poor print of the film in a double-feature midnight showing with "Reefer Madness," a 1936 anti-marijuana propaganda film often screened decades later for comedic effect.

"I first saw it in 1974 at a university," Bill King, the longtime publisher of Beatles fanzine Beatlefan, said of "Magical Mystery Tour." "By then, though, it had taken on mythic status. I loved it."   Continued...

 
The Beatles perform "Your Mother Should Know" in this publicity photo from the filming of "Magical Mystery Tour" in this September 24, 1967 photo released to Reuters December 14, 2012. The film will receive its long-awaited U.S. broadcast television debut on Friday on PBS. Long a curiosity in the United States, the film will be accompanied by a new documentary about its making. A restored version was released on DVD and blu-ray in October. REUTERS/Apple Films LTD/Handout