Fame is an intriguing animal. Most of us want to be famous, or at the very least we want to meet someone famous. Perhaps the idea is that fame would suddenly make our lives more fulfilling, or make us feel that much more special for a little while. The thing about craving encounters with fame though is the way it can lead to some strange behaviour. Take this little skit from A HARD DAY’S NIGHT.
As John Lennon piles back into the theatre through a stage door, a woman stops him by declaring “You’re him”. John, ever the cheeky one, decides to mess with her and fires back “No, I’m not”. What follows is a quick and witty back & forth that suggest rumours of the woman and John abound, and that John didn’t believe them. Oh, and it also hinges on the woman trying to convince John how much he looks like John Lennon.
The scene is a bit of course, but it still seems to tap on some of the qualities of our fame obsession. On the one hand, there are the fevered fans – the ones who spend the early moments of the film screaming and chasing The Fab Four. They would recognize their idols anywhere (unless they’re hiding in phone booths, or behind newspapers) and desperately want a piece of them. On the other hand though, are the people who know of The Beatles. They might be able to hum a few notes, or know why a crowd is gathered…but they know them more through their fame than by their faces.
This lady is one of the latter.
She is momentarily smitten when she thinks that she has had an encounter with fame, but doesn’t know anything about the famous person she’s just encountered. If she did, she might has held tighter to her insistence that John was in fact John, instead of falling for his joke. She would have known that his eyes weren’t lighter, and that his nose “wasn’t as…” as John puts it. However, because she’s more smitten with the myth than the man, she falls right for it.
That’s what I love about this moment and this image; that John Lennon’s fame has brought him to a moment where someone is trying to convince him that he is who he denies being. To prove the point, she gets him to look in the mirror and tilts the light at him so he can see better…y’know, as if he weren’t acutely aware of who he is and what he looks like.
Of course, the ultimate joke of the scene is that John is successful in convincing the woman that he isn’t who she thinks he is, prompting her to try saving face and dignity by saying “Now that I think about it, you don’t look like him at all”. John then leaves in a huff.
Such is the nature of fame, as this bit well knows. One minute we’re wide-eyed, hearts all a-flutter because we’re potentially meeting someone special…the next we’re shrugging things off like the fox who couldn’t reach the grapes and muttering to ourselves that the person wasn’t that special anyway.
Some things have changed since 1964…but some things remain the same.
Here’s three more from A HARD DAY’S NIGHT for the road…
This series of posts is inspired by the “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” series at The Film Experience. Do check out all of the awesome entires in their series so far