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Magical Mystery Tour (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Magical Mystery Tour, starring the Beatles, is an hour-long television film that initially aired on BBC TV on Boxing Day (the day after Christmas) in 1967. Upon its initial showing, the film was poorly received by critics and audiences, but is now considered something of a cult classic.


There was no script for the film; the film proceeded on the basis of a (mostly handwritten) collection of ideas, sketches, and situations, which Paul McCartney called the "Scrupt"[citation needed]. The basic plot involves a group of people on a British charabanc bus tour, focusing mostly on Mr. Richard Starkey (Ringo Starr) and his aunt, Mrs. Jessie Starkey (Jessie Robins). Other group members on the bus include the "tour director" Jolly Jimmy Johnson (Derek Royle), the tour hostess Miss Wendy Winters (Mandy Weet), Buster Bloodvessel (Ivor Cutler), and the other Beatles.

During the course of the tour, "strange things begin to happen" at the whim of "four or five magicians". Four of the magicians are played by the Beatles themselves, the fifth by long-time road manager Mal Evans.

During the tour, Starkey and his aunt argue considerably. Meanwhile, Mrs. Starkey begins to fall in love with Buster Bloodvessel, who displays eccentric and disturbing behaviour. The tour involves several strange activities, such as an impromptu race in which each tour group member employs a different mode of transportation (some run, a few jump into cars, a group of people have a long bike they pedal). The tour also goes through a long crawl tunnel which leads to a set-up projector theatre, and involves a strange scene where the group walks through what appears to be a British Army recruiter's office. The film culminates with the group splitting up to see strip shows.

Musical interludes include the Beatles performing "I Am the Walrus" wearing animal masks, and George Harrison dressed as a monk, singing "Blue Jay Way" waiting on Blue Jay Way Road.


The film was first shown in the United Kingdom as a made-for-television film on the BBC; it was shown in black-and-white on BBC1, then in colour on BBC2 a few days later. It was shown at Christmas time 1967 on NBC in the United States in colour. It was re-released in the US in 1976, when New Line Cinema acquired the rights for limited theatrical distribution, and it was shown on American television in the 1980s in syndication. The critical reception in 1967 had been so poor that no one had properly archived a negative, and the re-release version had to be copied from poor-quality prints. By the end of the 1980s, MPI (via rights holder Apple Corps) had released the movie on video, and a DVD release followed later.


The British public's reaction to the film was scathing. Hunter Davies, the band's biographer, said: "It was the first time in memory that an artist felt obliged to make a public apology for his work". McCartney spoke to the press: "We don't say it was a good film. It was our first attempt. If we goofed, then we goofed. It was a challenge and it didn't come off. We'll know better next time."[1]However, with the passage of time McCartney's view of it has changed: "Looking back on it," he said, "I thought it was all right. I think we were quite pleased with it."

Filming Locations

Many scenes (for example, the 'staircase' scene) were filmed in the disused aircraft hangars and on the surrounding airfield runways and taxi aprons ('I Am the Walrus') at RAF West Malling in Kent, in September 1967. ATC cadets can be seen marching in some scenes. In the "Flying" sequence, the music is accompanied in the film by colour-altered images of landscape in Iceland taken from an aeroplane. Those shots were provided from outtakes of Stanley Kubrick's movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.[2] Correction: The Arctic photography in the "Flying" sequence was originally filmed for Stanley Kubrick's famous comedy Dr. Strangelove.


  • "Magical Mystery Tour"
  • "The Fool on the Hill"
  • "Flying"
  • "I Am the Walrus"
  • "Blue Jay Way"
  • "Your Mother Should Know"
  • "Hello, Goodbye" (finale played over end credits)
  • "Death Cab For Cutie" (written by Vivian Stanshall and performed by his band, the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band)
  • "All My Loving" (orchestrated, as background music)
  • "She Loves You" (played during the marathon with a carnival-style organ)

Release history on VHS and DVD




External link

  • IMDB entry for Magical Mystery Tour (1967)
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