Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Beatles Go-To Guy: Victor Spinetti

Victor Spinetti died the other day. Ironically, it was June 18th, 2012, which was also Paul McCartney's birthday.

The Beatles loved Spinetti. He was the heavy in two of their films, A Hard Day's Night and Help!, and played a hyper drill instructor in their TV film, 'Magical Mystery Tour'.

The most interesting and complex character was the 'TV Director' (he didn't have a proper name) in A Hard Day's Night. He's a nervous, insecure ego-maniac, who The Beatles dismiss and cut-down to size. Wrapped in a hideous fuzzy sweater that is as wiry and uncomfortable as the character.

But his role in Help! is actually funnier than the TV Director. His mad scientist, 'Dr. Foot', is a loony opportunist, willing to do anything to 'rule the world'.

And whereas the TV Director is confined to a television studio, Foot is all over the movie as he follows the Beatles around the world in his attempt to get his hands on Ringo's magic ring.

My only complaint about his role as the Drill Instructor in 'Magical Mystery Tour' is that it's too short. His ad-libbing with a life sized plastic cow is the show's funniest moment.

The Beatles worked with Spinetti on other projects, too. He appeared on one of their Fan Club Christmas records and co-wrote a play based on one of Lennon's books.

But his greatest role may have been as a major player in the real Beatles' story. As one of those rare humans allowed into the most exclusive inner circle of the 1960s.


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