United Artists via Everett Collection
The Beatles’ influence has touched every inch of modern pop music, leaving an indelible mark on film and television… which is pretty good for four working-class mop tops from Liverpool. Director Ron Howard will be the next to immortalize the band onscreen, in a new documentary that will explore the group’s early years, when they still toured their music across the globe. Surviving Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, as well as Yoko Ono Lennon and Olivia Harrison will contribute to the feature, which will trace the band’s humble beginnings at the Caven Club in Liverpool, their tours through Germany, all the way through the group’s final public performance in San Francisco’s Candlestick park. But before we get around to seeing Howard’s tribute to the Beatles, we’re inclined to look back upon some of the best musical contributions they made to movies and TV.
Bowling for Columbine
The last half of the John Lennon-penned “Happiness Is a Warm Gun,” which may or may not be about heroin, serves as the perfect soundtrack for Michael Moore’s anti-gun manifesto Bowling for Columbine. It’s used in a terrifying sequence that shows just how gun crazy some Americans are, and as the song ramps up, the sequence escalates to a violent and unnerving conclusion that still has us wincing all these years later.
“Baby, You’re a Rich Man” in The Social Network
What better way to end a biopic about one of the richest men in the universe than this cut from Magical Mystery Tour. It’s so fitting, it’s almost like it was made expressly to cap off David Fincher’s tale of billion dollar grudges.
“You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” in Help
We couldn’t, in good faith, compile a list of the best Beatles moments in film and television without including a sequence from the Fab Four’s own filmography. We chose “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” the film Help for sheer oddness of the sequence. Plus, it’s just a great song in general.
“In My Life” in Little Manhattan
The best thing about the Beatles is how timeless their music is. “In My Life,” a song about losing and gaining friendships through the slippage of time, is the perfect piece of music to accompany the story about a preteen losing his first love in modern day New York.
“A Little Help From My Friends” on The Wonder Years
John Cocker’s throaty rendition of “A Little Help from My Friends” graces the title sequence of The Wonder Years, and it may be the best cover song ever recorded. It’s even better than the original Beatles tune, and it just makes The Wonder Years a better show. Nowadays, we can’t even look at Fred Savage without hearing Cocker’s raspy croon blasting through our heads at full volume.
“Come Together” in A Bronx Tale
In a scene from Robert De Niro’s directoral debut, a pair of Italian mafiosos rough up a couple of unruly bikers that stop into their bar while “Come Together” spills out of a jukebox. Thanks to the ’60s aesthetic, the song is a perfect addition to the scene.
“Hey Jude” in The Royal Tenenbaums
Filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese are often celebrated for their use of pop music in film, but Wes Anderson’s musical touches in his work are just as poignant. His use of a beautifully orchestrated version of “Hey Jude” in 2001’s The Royal Tenanbaums is a perfect example of this.
“Twist and Shout” in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
We’re still not sure if Ferris Bueller is really a wizard, or if it was just the power of music, but the teen somehow brings the entirety of downtown Chicago to a grinding halt for the musical number to end all musical numbers.