"Four guys from Liverpool making a movie -- it was so great," says the Beatles of the 50th anniversary of the film.
Fifty years later, and even with a solid IMDB entry to his credit, "A Hard Day's Night" remains a surreal experience for Ringo Starr.
"I mean, we were in a movie, man. We were making a movie!" Starr recalls to Billboard. "Four guys from Liverpool making a movie -- it was so great. I loved it, and as you can tell I loved it because the next movie ('Help!') was sort of based around me, based around the ring and Kaili."
"A Hard Day's Night" returns to movie theaters for the holiday weekend, starting July 4 and continuing throughout the summer (a full schedule of screenings can be found here). This follows the June release of a Criterion Collection version of the film on DVD and Blu-ray, featuring a new digital restoration of the film approved by director Richard Lester, audio commentary, several documentaries about the movie and "The Running Jumping and Standing Still Film," an Academy Award-nominated short directed by Lester and starring Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan.
Conceived to capitalize on the Beatlemania sweeping the globe at the time, "A Hard Day's Night" offered a day-in-the-life view of the group at the time, culminating in a concert in London. Its madcap, fast-paced and dry-witted flavor made it a fresh kind of cinematic experience, cited as an influence on subsequent spy films, music videos and, of course "The Monkees" TV series. Premiering July 6, 1964 in London and August 11 worldwide, the film was nominated for two Academy Awards -- Best Screenplay for Alun Owen and Best Score (Adaptation) for Beatles producer George Martin, while the accompanying album hit No. 1 in the U.S., U.K. and Australia and the title track won a Grammy Award for Best Performance By a Vocal Group.
"It was a really exciting thing to do," Starr says. "We were making records and, wow, the records were taking off and then we're playing to bigger and bigger audiences and that's taking off, and now we're doing a movie. It was mad... but it was incredible."
The theatrical return of "A Hard Day's Night" is, of course, part of a number of Beatles' 50th anniversary celebrations this year, including of the group's arrival in the U.S., that have included honors at the Grammy Awards and a subsequent Record Academy CBS special saluting Starr, Paul McCartney and their late bandmates John Lennon and George Harrison.
"It's just been one of those incredible years," Starr notes. "I mean, how incredible that it's 50 years since we landed in New York and Paul and I did the Grammys and... It's massive! But it's interesting -- when I was in New York, in the hotel, I took a photo of outside the Plaza and there's nobody there, when the last time we were there it was like thousands of people outside. So things have changed."
"The Beatles in Mono," a 14-LP vinyl collection, will be released Sept. 8, with the individual albums also available separately. Starr, meanwhile, is currently on the road celebrating the 25th anniversary of his All-Starr Band and will celebrate his 74th birthday on July 7 with a "peace and love moment" in front of the Capitol Records building. "Ringo Starr: A Lifetime of Peace and Love," filmed during the Grammy Week event where he was honored by the David Lynch Foundation, debuts at 8 p.m. ET July 13 on AXS TV. McCartney launches the next U.S. leg of his Out There tour on July 5 in Albany, N.Y., after postponing the first seven dates due to health concerns.