Filming: Paul McCartney’s unused scene in A Hard Day’s Night

Paul McCartney filmed a solo sequence for The Beatles’ debut feature film A Hard Day’s Night on this day. However, it was omitted from the final cut.

The premise was that McCartney was looking for Ringo Starr, who had gone missing temporarily. McCartney discovered a rehearsal room where he had a conversation with an actress, played by 18-year-old Isla Blair.

There was a sequence that I was going to do and, to this day, whenever I go past the pub in Shepherd’s Bush – on the corner by the old BBC TV Theatre – I remember going in with Isla Blair and filming on the second floor.

She was supposed to be the object of my desire or I was of hers – that was the idea behind this little scene-ette. I had to sort of wander around her with the camera going round and round in circles – all very Sixties, all very French and I had to repeat these very quirky lines. We had a whole day of doing that, but it didn’t work because it wasn’t the kind of thing we would have done in every day life. It was all a little bit too contrived.

Paul McCartney

The scene remained unused because director Richard Lester thought it lacked pace, and that it was inappropriate for one of The Beatles to have a scene with a girl. As a result, McCartney was the only member of the group without a solo scene in the film.

The scene was filmed on this and the following day, at the Jack Billings TV School of Dancing at 18 Goldhawk Road in London, above what was then The Bush pub. At the end of this first day, McCartney offered Isla Blair a lift home in his chauffeur-driven car. When they went outside, however, they found dozens of girls waiting.

I was completely unprepared for how frightening it was. It must have been awful for him. They were grabbing at him and they were very vicious with me. They pulled my hair, they scratched me, they pulled me, they punched me, they pinched me and it was horrible.
Isla Blair

Although they managed to drive away safely, the following day Blair declined McCartney’s repeat offer of a lift.

In June 1970, Richard Lester went to the library at Twickenham Film Studios to look at the out-takes from A Hard Day’s Night, but discovered that all the unreleased footage had been destroyed. The studio had a policy of retaining such footage only for five years after the completion of a film.

The script for the missing scene was as follows:

Exterior, Street.

Paul comes down the street looking about him for Ringo. In the street is an old building, the sort of place that is highly favoured for TV rehearsals. There is a sign on the door, ‘TV Rehearsal Room’. As Paul draws near, a load of actors and extras, etc. are leaving, they are in costume, they are the ones who earlier had been going to a word rehearsal. When Paul gets near the entrance he decides to go inside.

Interior, Hall.

Paul enters and wanders about. He reaches a door, pushes it open and looks in. He sees a girl clad in period costume. She is moving around the room and obviously acting. Paul watches her for a moment and then decides to go in.

Interior, Rehearsal Room.

Paul goes into the room. The girl is in mid-flight. She is very young and lovely and completely engrossed in what she is doing. The room is absolutely empty except for Paul and herself. She is acting in the manner of an eighteenth century coquette, or, to be precise, the voice English actresses use when they think they are being true to the costume period… her youth however makes it all very charming.

GIRL: If I believed you, sir, I might do those things and walk those ways only to find myself on Problems Path. If I believed you, sir, I might like you or even love you, but I cannot believe you and all those urgings, pleadings and the like serve only as a proof that you will lie and lie again to gain your purpose with me.

She dances lightly away from an imaginary lover and as she turns she sees Paul who is as engrossed in the scene as she was.

GIRL: (surprised) Oh!

PAUL: (enthusiastically) Well… go ‘head, do the next bit.

GIRL: Go away! You’ve spoilt it.

PAUL: Who, me?

GIRL: Yes, you.

PAUL: Oh, sorry I spoke.

He makes no effort to go. He simply continues to look steadily at the girl; then he smiles at her. She is undecided what to do next.

Last updated: 20 April 2010
Recording: Around The Beatles
Mixing: A Hard Day's Night
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