A book of previously unseen photos of the Beatles from the set of Help!

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

In 1964, Italian photographer Emilio Lari was 24, newly arrived in London and looking for work. Back in Rome, he’d shot promotional stills on the set of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, starring Sofia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni, and for The Bobo, featuring Peter Sellers and Britt Ekland.

Now he was hoping to do the same in Britain. Fortunately, it didn’t take long for him to hear about a new film just going into production: A cheap black-and-white comedy meant to cash in on that latest fad, the Beatles. Lari went around to see the film’s director, Sellers’ old friend Richard Lester, and got invited to the first day of shooting. He was on the set of A Hard Day’s Night only that day, but Lester liked his photos and invited him to do more work on his next film, which turned out to be the Beatles’ Help!

In vivid color and crisp black and white, this book shares dozens of the results. There are great candid and posed shots of the Beatles, many unseen for years or never published, throughout. Musicians will enjoy the close-up images of the band with its famed guitars: George Harrison with his Gibson acoustic, John Lennon with his Rickenbacker, Paul McCartney with his violin-shaped Hofner bass. We’ve seldom seen these instruments so closely and looking so shiny and new. The same is true for the pictures of the Beatles themselves. They look so young, fresh and lively that it’s hard to believe the pictures are more than 50 years old. There are shots of the band clowning with the camera crew between takes and, in a two-page sequence, candids of Paul and George in the back of a limo sharing an inside joke. Paul is collapsing into laughter, his hands over his face as George looks on, a sly smile across his face. Maybe they were stoned. The Beatles famously said they spent much of “Help!” slipping away between shots to share joints. In any event, they look happy – young men at the top of their game and the height of fame.

In another photo, John clowns around wearing a long black wig and flashing a peace sign. It’s a startling image. This was John in 1965 flash-forwarding to his look of a few years later, during the midst of his peace campaigns with Yoko Ono. In fact, with the long black hair, he looks more like Yoko than himself. Lari didn’t accompany the Beatles for later scenes of the film shot in Austria and the Bahamas, so this isn’t a full document of the making of “Help!” That’s not a shortfall. It’s an excellent collection of one photographer’s intimate view of the Beatles, featuring mostly unfamiliar and very compelling images of history’s most famous band. – John Firehammer

The Beatles: Photographs from the Set of Help!

The Beatles: Photographs from the Set of Help!
by Emilio Lari
Rizzoli
2015, 144 pages, 9.3 x 9.3 x 0.8 inches
$22 Buy a copy on Amazon

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  1. Head was a superior film.

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