In 1967, The Beatles devised, wrote, and directed their third film, Magical Mystery Tour, a dreamlike story of a coach day trip to the seaside. The long out-of-print, classic feature film just made its worldwide digital release debut, exclusively at The iTunes Store, with a remastered and remixed soundtrack and iTunes Extras featuring extensive bonus features and detailed art, including a companion booklet. Seven iTunes-exclusive Magical Mystery Tour ringtones also debuted this week.
The restoration of Magical Mystery Tour was overseen by Paul Rutan Jr. of Eque Inc., the same company that handled the acclaimed restoration of The Beatles’ animated classic, Yellow Submarine, which debuted on iTunes in June. The soundtrack was remixed at Abbey Road Studios by Giles Martin and Sam Okell. Magical Mystery Tour is also available in DVD and Blu-ray packages, and in a special boxed deluxe edition.
Magical Mystery Tour’s bonus features are packed with previously unseen footage. There are newly-filmed interviews with Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and other members of the film’s cast and crew, as well as a director’s audio commentary recorded by Paul.
In September 1967, The Beatles loaded a film crew onto a bus, along with friends, family and cast, and headed west on the A30 out of London to make their third film, this time conceived and directed by The Beatles themselves.
“Paul said, ‘Look, I’ve got this idea,’ and we said ‘Great!’ and all he had was this circle and a little dot on the top – that’s where we started,” explains Ringo. “It wasn’t the kind of thing where you could say, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, what you are about to see is the product of our imaginations and believe me, at this point they are quite vivid’,” says Paul. The film follows a loose narrative and showcased six new songs: “Magical Mystery Tour,” “The Fool On The Hill,” “I Am The Walrus,” “Flying,” “Blue Jay Way,” and “Your Mother Should Know.”
Magical Mystery Tour features a fabulous supporting cast of character actors and performers, including Ivor Cutler, Victor Spinetti, Jessie Robins, Nat Jackley, Derek Royle, and the inimitable Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band.
Although the 53-minute film was shot in color, it premiered on UK television in black and white. Broadcast by BBC1 at 8:35pm on Boxing Day, the film immediately attracted widespread controversy as middle England and the establishment media erupted with indignation. “How dare they?” they cried, “They’re not film directors! Who do they think they are?” they howled. Where were the four loveable moptops of Help! and A Hard Day’s Night? Those Beatles were out of control! Partly as an upshot of this adverse reaction, the film never had a US broadcast and very limited distribution in the rest of the world.
Operating at the time as the world’s de facto “cultural mission control,” The Beatles were already influencing filmmakers, artists, and musicians, while also drawing inspiration from their contemporaries.
Magical Mystery Tour’s iTunes debut follows July’s successful release of Tomorrow Never Knows, an exclusive iTunes LP featuring 14 of The Beatles’ most powerful rock songs spanning the group’s entire trailblazing and influential catalogue, which continues to resonate with today's pop culture. In June, The Beatles’ restored Yellow Submarine animated feature film made its iTunes debut with extensive iTunes Extras.
John John Lennon
Paul Paul McCartney
George George Harrison
Ringo Ringo Starr
Mr. Bloodvessel Ivor Cutler
Ringo’s Aunt Jessie Robins
Army Sergeant Victor Spinetti
Jolly Jimmy Derek Royle
Rubber Man Nat Jackley
Band in Strip Club The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band
Made in England by The Beatles
Director of Photography Richard Starkey
Magical Mystery Tour special features [iTunes Extras, DVD, Blu-ray]
Director’s Commentary – by Paul McCartney
“The Making of Magical Mystery Tour” [19:05]
- Features interviews with Paul and Ringo, along with other cast members and crew. Includes unseen footage.
“Ringo the Actor” [2:30]
- Ringo Starr reflecting on his role in the film.
“Meet the Supporting Cast” [11:27]
- A feature on the background and careers of Nat Jackley, Jessie Robins, Ivor Cutler, The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, Victor Spinetti, George Claydon, and Derek Royle.
“Your Mother Should Know” [2:35]
“Blue Jay Way” [3:53]
“The Fool On The Hill” [3:05]
- Three new edits of these performances, all featuring footage not seen in the original film.
“Hello Goodbye,” as featured on “Top of the Pops” - 1967 [3:24]
- The Beatles allowed the BBC to film them in the edit suite where they were working on Magical Mystery Tour. This was then turned into a promo by the BBC, who shot their own additional footage. It was then broadcast on “Top of the Pops” to mark the “Hello Goodbye” single going to No. 1 in December 1967.
“Nat’s Dream” [2:50]
- A scene directed by John featuring Nat Jackley and not included in the original film.
Ivor Cutler – “I’m Going In A Field” [2:35]
- Ivor performs “I’m Going In A Field,” in a field. This scene was not included in the original film.
Traffic – “Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush” [1:53]
- The filming of Traffic acting out their 1967 hit single “Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush” was commissioned by The Beatles for possible inclusion in Magical Mystery Tour, but was not included in the final edit.
New Magical Mystery Tour ringtones [iTunes]
Magical Mystery Tour
The Fool On The Hill
Blue Jay Way
Your Mother Should Know
I Am The Walrus
Previously launched Magical Mystery Tour-associated ringtones
Baby, You’re a Rich Man
All You Need Is Love