When was the first US showing of Magical Mystery Tour and when did you first see it ?

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by Glenn Christense, Oct 10, 2012.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Glenn Christense

    Glenn Christense Foremost Beatles expert... on my block Thread Starter

    With all the hoopla here surrounding the new Magical Mystery Tour release, it dawned on me that the Magical Mystery Tour movie sort of trickled out in the US and never got any actual release date or wide theatrical release.

    Does anyone actually know where and when the movie was first shown in the US ?

    I saw it for the first time at the Kinetic Playground in Chicago on March 20th,1969. They ran Mystery Tour, the Cream farewell movie and Brian Auger and The Trinity played live. I talked to an old Kinetic employee on Facebook recently and he remembered that an Apple employee brought the film and left with the film to make sure it didn't disappear.

    Regardless of what country you are in, where and when did you first see Magical Mystery Tour? A movie theater, run on TV, or on videotape, etc. ? Did you like it ?

    I did and still do, just because I'm a huge fan of the Beatles in this period, but I realize that it's not a great movie, even if it influenced Spielberg.;)
  2. mr_mjb1960

    mr_mjb1960 I'm a Tarrytowner 'Til I die!

    In the US,on "Radio 1990",in 1989.:righton: ..I believe Claymation figure Mr. Bill opened the show.
  3. musicfan37

    musicfan37 Forum Resident

    Maybe 1977 or 78. It was a tripple feature with Let it Be and Concert for Bangladesh.
  4. Clark Kauffman

    Clark Kauffman Active Member

    I saw it in 1973 or so at the ornate, old Capitol Theater -- it still stands! -- in Davenport, Iowa. It was playing there for just a weekend, I think.

    The first sign of trouble was in the theater lobby where they had a make-shift "Magical Mystery Tour" movie poster hanging. It was clearly designed by someone with zero artistic talent and printed as cheaply as possible.

    The movie started and I could not believe how terrible the print was. It looked and sounded like hell. And I was convinced that they must have left out a reel because it was so short, made no sense, and "Hello Goodbye" was nowhere to be found. (For some reason, I was sure that song was supposed to be in the film.)

    The whole presentation was of such poor quality that even though I was only 12 or 13 I could tell it had to be unauthorized and unaffiliated in any way with Apple. Somebody just got a raggedy print of the film and it played at theaters all around the U.S., usually for just a weekend or so.

    The next time I saw it was in 1991 when I picked up the Furmanek-restored version on laserdisc. I was blown away. He did such a good job on that restoration....
  5. RockWizard

    RockWizard Forum Resident

    Can't remember the exact year, but saw it twice within a few weeks in the 70's at midnight movies. First time - "influenced". Walked out scratching my head. Second - SOBER. Same result. Until I watched the BBC documentary, never realized what the movie was about. Always thought - a bunch of hippies stoned filming everything they saw in the countryside!:D
  6. Glenn Christense

    Glenn Christense Foremost Beatles expert... on my block Thread Starter

    Interesting story. Just curious: Was this one of those midnight showing deals that used to be popular back then, or was it at a regular movie time ?

    P.S. Heh. I just saw RockWizard's post about the midnight showing. I suspect many people here saw the movie at a midnight show. We will see.
  7. I first saw it in the 80's at a local public library, on 16mm film. It was a terrible print and barely made it through the projector. The eventual VHS release I saw was much better. Looking forward to the blu-ray.
    McLover likes this.
  8. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    Interesting story on Wikipedia:

    The poor critical reaction to the telecast soured American television networks from acquiring the film, while its one-hour running length made it commercially unviable for theatrical release.

    In his Diaries 1969 - 1979: The Python Years, Michael Palin reveals that the Monty Python team considered showing the film as a curtain-raiser to their 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. They received permission from all four Beatles to view the film, and did so at Apple on 10 January 1975. Although the Pythons were interested, the idea did not go ahead.

    The film had its first U.S. presentation in 1968 at the Fillmore East in New York City, as part of a fundraiser for the Liberation News Service. However, it was not seen in commercial theatres in the US until 1974, when New Line Cinema acquired the rights for limited theatrical and non-theatrical distribution. It first played on on American television in the 1980s, as part of a syndicated release.

    I remember seeing it in college around 1974-1975, so they were definitely sending it to American universities around then, doing midnight shows on Friday and Saturday nights, stuff like that. It was one of the early "grey market" Betamax and VHS releases as well; I can recall two or three different distributors trying to sell it on tape in 1977-1978, because they assumed it wasn't copyrighted.

    I think the film still is not copyrighted, but the music and the Beatles' likenesses are protected. I'd guess if you tried to sell it now, Apple Corps would send you a legal letter forcing you to delete all the music and the Beatles' faces from the copy, and then you could legitimately sell the 45 seconds that was left. Not much of a market for that.
  9. jacksondownunda

    jacksondownunda Well-Known Member

    I saw it at least a couple times 74-75 at Fox Venice Theatre (LA). They played different 'art house' stuff every night. Funny thing was that smoking (anything) was allowed on the right side of the theatre (I'm sure the lefties were 'up there' by the end), though I don't remember that smog affecting the projection clarity.
  10. m5comp

    m5comp Classic Rock Lover

    Hamilton, AL
    I first saw it on the USA cable network in the 80s. The sound was so poor that I had to sit with my ear next to the TV speaker to make out the dialogue.
  11. TonyR

    TonyR Forum Resident

    Atlanta GA
    Memory is getting hazy on this, but the first time I saw it I believe was at the Mini Cinema in Uniondale, Long Island, NY. The theater showed many underground or independent films. It was where I saw "The Rocky Horror Picture Show"...many, many times. Anyway, that's where I remember seeing it, circa 1979. I could be wrong about that though, and it may have been shown at Hofstra University when I went there 1980-84.

    The next time I saw it was when I bought a VHS copy from some store in Greenwich Village in New York, when I worked there, circa 1986. I still have that tape, and it's the only way I've been able to see the film for the last 25 years.
  12. xios

    xios Forum Resident

    Frederick, MD
    I didn't see it until the '74-'75 release, and it was a washed out awful sounding mess. It appeared to be a bad contact print dupe. I liked the music sequences, the stripper scene, and the spaghetti scene, but as a whole I was disappointed.
  13. Gloi

    Gloi Well-Known Member

    I think I saw it on TV in 67 but the first time I saw it and really remember it from was at a Beatles convention in 1976. Everyone was really excited to be able to watch it there on the big screen.
  14. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    New York, NY, USA
    In the late 1970's and early '80's, Magical Mystery Tour was shown on a few local stations, usually late at night prior to sign-off. Among those that, at one time or another, ran the film were:
    - WSNS-TV (Channel 44), Chicago, IL
    - WTNH-TV (Channel 8), New Haven-Hartford, CT
    - WTOG-TV (Channel 44), Tampa-St. Petersburg, FL
    - WKID-TV (Channel 51, now WSCV), Miami-Fort Lauderdale, FL
    - WPNE-TV (Channel 38), Green Bay, WI

    I was wondering which other local channels across the U.S. aired MMT in that time period?
  15. nsmith1002

    nsmith1002 Forum Resident

    Monticello, IN USA
    I saw it on a double bill with Yellow Submarine in 1976 when I was a student at Purdue University. I can't remember which campus organization sponsored it, but I was not even shown in a proper theater (of which Purdue had several) but in one of the larger lecture halls! Imagine trying to enjoy two hours of movie watching sitting on those hard wooden chairs...
    I honestly don't remember much about the whole affair and I was actually sober but I think it was shown on a Friday or Saturday night so most of the audience was not.
    The thing I remember most is that the audience sang along with most of the songs all through both films, but at the part in Yellow Submarine when the actual Beatles appear "live action" to encourage the audience to sing along to help ward off approaching Blue Meanies or whatever, no one sang at all!
  16. numer9

    numer9 Beatles Apologist

    Philly Burbs
    Midnight showing mid eventies. After that, it was a staple on local PBS fund drives.
  17. Guy R

    Guy R Well-Known Member

    Don't remember the first time but I can safely say that I have never seen it in it's entirety all the way through. Even with the Blu-Ray I am just skipping through the chapters that contain songs.
  18. Abbagold

    Abbagold Working class hero

    Saw it back in the 90's at a place called "movie pitchers" in NOLA. It was a bit of a blur.
  19. mr_mjb1960

    mr_mjb1960 I'm a Tarrytowner 'Til I die!

    On "Radio 1990",right? The source of that,at the time,had the claim,"Taken from the only surviving print",which we now know,is malarkey! Also,at its beginning,there were pops and black lines galore and skipped like crazy! a poor copy overall!:shake:
  20. Cheepnik

    Cheepnik "Digs" "beat" "poetry"

    Midnight movie here too, early 1975. It must have really made the rounds. IIRC sound and picture quality were almost as appalling as the content.
  21. Texastoyz

    Texastoyz Forum Resident

    Texas, USA
    I didn't see it until they showed it on the Disney Channel back in 1991 or 1992. Prior to this was the Making of Sgt. Pepper documentary.
  22. lennon_08518

    lennon_08518 Forum Resident

    Roebling, NJ, USA
    I remember seeing it at a very ornate movie theatre in Philadelphia. I think it was during
    the mid 70's. I seem to remember thinking that the movie did not make any sense but the music was amazing.
  23. ted321

    ted321 Forum Resident

    I saw MMT in what I believe was the first showing in the US. It was at Philharmonic Hall (now Avery Fisher Hall) in NYC. There were 4 showing, 2 each on consecutive Sundays 23 Feb & 2 Mar 1969, I actually saved a newspaper ad with the details, unfortunately I cant figure out how to upload the scan (in pdf). I could be wrong but I dont remember hearing about a Fillmore East showing in 1968.
  24. Jimbo62

    Jimbo62 Forum Resident

    I saw it at the Silver Screen theatre in Atlanta around 1978 or so. It was on a triple feature (!) with Yellow Sub and Let It Be. All I really remember was Your Mother Should Know and Blue Jay Way (which I found a little creepy as a 16 year old). The main thing I remember about that day was people hissing when Yoko Ono came on screen in Let It Be ! I saw a bad copy sometime in the 80's on tape. Looking forward to the DVD this weekend.
  25. Jose Jones

    Jose Jones Outstanding Forum Member

    Detroit, Michigan
    I saw it first time in 1988 when I purchased the then-new VHS reissue, which is still my favorite despite being on VHS. The color is nice n bright and the 88 remix is still definitive, IMO.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page