Saw Magical Mystery Tour For The First Time; Did I Miss Something?

I am certain I first heard about the Beatles' movie "Magical Mystery Tour" on Christmas day 1972 (before most of you EPeeps were born) when WLS, an AM station out of Chicago, ran an all-day-long documentary on the Beatles. (I really mean all day: I listened to the last hour in the dark with a little round speaker attachment as I lay in bed.) They said it was a big flop when it debuted on British TV in 1967. That was explained with reference to the BBC showing it in black and white when it was meant to be seen in color. I felt like I would like to see it; surely something by the Beatles would have to be good.

Well, almost exactly forty years later, last night I finally got to see the movie Magical Mystery Tour on PBS during their pledge week, when they bring out all the really good programming, especially musical........It was AWFUL!

The long segments with the people on the bus tour seemed utterly boring and pointless to me. You keep waiting for them to get over with this crap and get to the next song. But there weren't that many songs, and some were by other performers. I read on Wikipedia that "mystery tours" were some kind of big thing in the UK back then.

Was this really a very clever satirical or sardonic work decipherable only to or capable of being appreciated only by those deeply immersed in British culture? Or was it just like it seemed to me : one of the worst movies I've ever seen?
conceptualclarity conceptualclarity
51-55, M
4 Responses Dec 15, 2012

I've not seen it but I do like alot of the beatles music

I'm sorry, I can't comment on 'Mystery Tour', and being a Beatles
fanatic, I should be ashamed of myself. I've never seen it. Maybe
I can watch it on-line. If it's as bad as you say, it is the only thing
concerning the Beatles that's bad (excluding their lifestyle, of course!).

Yea, I like the Beatles' music but don't like the drug use they got into.

It was of the time. They got out of it and became almost as respectable and "Establishment" as the Rolling Stones

I saw George Harrison make a statement that strongly implied regret about the drugs. But Paul McCartney to this day is very unrepentant about it and I'm pretty sure he still tokes. Marijuana may not kill people with overdoses, but that doesn't mean it's not a bad drug.

I can confidently speak on your behalf. It's one of the worst movies you've ever seen

Well what about you, LOL?

I saw it recently on TV too (a couple of months ago in fact) for the first time. It's one of those things which is impossible to appreciate out of context of the time it was made. I'm not saying it's a great movie, nor that you are wrong in your assessment of it. But it was made at the time of emerging flower power and hippiedom, at the same time as Monty Python's Flying Circus (more or less) and with the very deep pockets of those around the Beatles and its entourage. It's silly, indulgent and yes very culturally specific. As a Brit I've never been on a "mystery tour" but I get the reference and they were popular. I don't think for a minute that it stands up as a decent musical film by any means, but as a piece of history it's priceless. And, of course, to Beatles fans it's very special. They were a seminal band who are as hugely popular today as they were back then (if not more so!) ... but a good film by today's standards? No, most likely not.

Thanks for a very insightful answer.

Seems like I missed most of the flower power and hippiedom with all the middle aged folks.

Tell us more about mystery tours if you would.

Mystery tours are a pretty simple concept really. Without googling (and I'm sure there's got to be information on the net somewhere) I would imagine they were first popular in the 1950s or thereabouts. Probably a working class attraction. Pubs or clubs would hire a bus and people would buy a ticket for a trip which might be for an evening or for a day (or maybe longer) and not be aware of the itinerary. So, it could include visits to historic sites, or interesting villages, most likely involving a pub crawl and a lot of alcohol being consumed at each stop. I still see them advertised today and are popular in seaside towns and in places with a lot of tourists.