A Hard Day’s Night at the Opera


When I was about 22 or 23 years old, a half lifetime ago, I had this mash-up idea one night that stuck with me for years. I saw the bits of it that I saw clearly very distinctly in my head, but the rest was fuzzy, whenever I tried to develop and finish it. Yet, tonight, it comes back again, and I still remember it. One of those ideas you only get when you’re that young, that open, that high, and that inspired. That I remembered it even the next day is pretty fancy a feat; that I remember it 20 years later is weird indeed.

It was decades before they even invented the term “mash-up” to describe a creative synthesis. This was a mash-up of three of my most favorite things: the Marx Brothers, the Beatles, and Mozart (as incarnated, specifically, in my favorite movie, Amadeus). It was called “A Hard Day’s Night at the Opera.”

There’s a scene in Amadeus where Mozart hears his music being played, and runs full tilt down a palace corridor, that reminded me of the Beatles running full tilt away from screaming fans at the beginning of Richard Lester’s movie. The Beatles were compared to the Marx Bros. in the film A Hard Day’s Night, which Lennon in an interview later dismissed (“There were four of them, and four of uz, so that’s why they said it, that’s all.”).

There was to be a Sig Rumann character, a jealous composer (the Salieri character); and a Margaret Dumont empress.

Then there were to be the four of them, incarnated as composers. I wrote, once, in a notepad (that is somewhere, but I know not where), a scene in which they introduce themselves.

JOHN: I’m Beethoven, John Winston Beethoven. This is James Paul McMozart. Over there is the silent one, George Harrison Bach.

George honks a horn in a four-note Bach melody.

JOHN: And Ringo.

RINGO: Hullo.

There was a scene in which, like in the Amadeus scene, they take a mediocre ditty of Salieri’s and start riffing on it, building it up, and it becomes an orchestral “Hey Jude.”

I always loved this idea. It probably would only stretch long enough to make a 20-minute short, but a great one. Any longer and it would grow thin. Any shorter and why do it?

It would still take a considerable budget to pull off, what with being a costume historical, and requiring a talented composer/arranger and musicians to do the score, and actors who could be the Beatles and the Marx Bros at the same time.

And a script that conquered the idea and followed its logic to a height worthy of all of these guys.

Never did it. Twenty years I’ve been carrying it around in my head, occasionally taking it out of its box to say, “Isn’t it pretty and shiny and fun,” then parking it again.

I have so many impractical ideas, but I do love some of them so.

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