Friday, April 19, 2013

DALLAS IFF 2013 Review: GOOD OL' FREDA - Javi's Take

Directed by: Ryan White
Starring: Freda Kelly
Synopsis: The life and times of Freda Kelly, the Beatles' fan club manager and secretary.

The Beatles are my favorite band. Are they a perfect band? No. But they were amazing musicians who pushed the medium on a technological and musical level. Basically if you like music now, you like something or someone who was influenced by them. As such a big fan, I have a few rituals. Around Christmas time, I always watch the documentary, ANTHOLOGY, which aired on PBS a long time ago, just to relive the history of this band. As such, I was very intrigued by the documentary GOOD OL' FREDA.

The Beatles had a number of various behind-the-scenes people that actually made them as great as they were. There was Billy Preston, the fifth Beatle, Brian Epstein, their manager, as well as George Martin, their producer and engineer. But I had never heard of Freda Kelly, who was their fan club  manager/secretary.

The story is told through a series of surprisingly licensed Beatles songs, archival photos and footage, and of course, the talking heads with Freda taking the majority of the screen time. She tells the story of her stint as a fan club manager and to being their secretary for the entirety of the 11 years of the Beatles' careers. Now, if you've never really heard of the Beatles or if you're not a fan, then I'd say that there's some very inside "baseball talk" here where you need to be a little bit more intimately acquainted with their history in order to get some of the jokes or some of the references of the stories. Nevertheless non-die hard fans will be able to enjoy the anecdotes.

As an interview subject, Freda is pleasant to listen to as we hear her during various adventures with the Beatles. If you're a fan, you've heard all of these stories many times, such as the Beatles' rise to super stardom, death of Brian Epstein, and eventually their break up. But what Freda brings to the table is the perspective of someone who was just part of their organization and not one of the creative people involved, so she had a detached point of view to a lot of things. Even hearing some of her insights on things like the disaster that was MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR, was great to hear.

Freda found work as the secretary of the Beatles' fan club as they were starting out in Liverpool as a young woman. It was so funny to hear her think that the boys were crazy to have a fan club since they were just a local band. From there, she goes on through various stages of their a career, as they got bigger and bigger eventually exploding into the international phenomenon that they were. I particularly enjoyed the random tidbits of the Beatles' personality coming out or hearing about the way Brian Epstein was.

Freda herself was a cool lady who was pretty devoted to the Beatles as friends and as employers, when the topic of their ....promiscuous ways came up, she would always stay quiet. She dealt with the fans and the fan club in a way that was always classy and private. In a day of the twitters and the facebooks, I imagine that the fan-band dynamics were a lot less open. The way Freda told it, it sounded like the fan club was a version of a message board with people wanting to know more or expressing their (sometimes unwanted) opinions on the personal lives of the guys.

What the film does is give you an insider look into the life of someone that worked and dealt with them on a daily basis. They weren't huge guys that sold out stadiums to Freda. They were just her buddies. She began her career with them and was there at the very end. At that time, she had already gotten married and had began to raise kids, so in her words, it was a good place to end the story with the Beatles.

GOOD OL' FREDA is not essential viewing for anyone that's not already a huge Beatles fan such as myself, but it's still enjoyable. But if you are a fan, the film is able to enhance the stories you've already heard before all told from the point of view of a very charming lady.

No comments:

Post a Comment