On Dec. 26, 1967, BBC Television broadcast the Beatles’ movie Magical Mystery Tour. Because BBC1 was not yet broadcasting in “colour,” the film was shown in black and white. The British press severely criticized the production – so much that a negotiation with a US television network fell apart. The film would eventually be widely shown in the US in the mid-70s, typically at midnight movies, after New Line Cinema acquired the rights.
The film’s origins are usually credited to Paul McCartney, but all four Beatles are listed as directors and writers on the project. Ringo Starr is even credited for being director of photography (as Richard Starkey, M.B.E.).
But the film had no formal script. It was an improvisation about a group of touring citizens aboard a psychedelic bus excursion around Britain. Filming took place over two weeks in mid-September, and the 10 hours of footage was edited down to 55 minutes.
Once you’ve seen Magical Mystery Tour (to paraphrase an old National Lampoon Radio Show ad), you’ll never be able to say you haven’t.