Home Back To Years

The Beatles Semi-Official & Unofficial Compilations on VHS & DVD

After the era of Super 8 films, that exploited The Beatles, had come to an end, the era of the VHS Home Video took over.
Luckily by then Apple Corps had tightened the legal loopholes and very little of their officially released movies and TV appearances could be utilised.
Therefore this new breed of exploiters went looking for any other bits of film that had run out of copyright or were so obscure that no one really cared.
For the more copyrighted material they made sure not to step on any toes by not using any original Beatles audio recordings and mainly used instrumental cover versions or cover band versions of their songs or in some cases they just used Beatley sounding music from God knows where.
However some previous Super 8 releases briefly found their way onto early home videos which included:
"The Beatles Live at Shea Stadium" (1978 Meda Home Entertainment, USA)
"The Beatles in New York" (1981, Video Archiv Film, Germany) (1965 Shea Stadium Concert)
"The Beatles at Shea" (1987 Video Warehouse, USA)
"The Beatles Concerto Allo Shea Stadium" (1991 DeAgostini, Italy)

Meda Home Entertainment also had VHS tapes of "Around The Beatles", "Beatles Live in Tokyo", "Magical Mystery Tour"& "John Lennon Live" (Flipside Plus 2 Songs From Shea).
In 1980 Apple finally took notice and successfully had all Meda`s Beatles titles removed from being sold. Two other video distributors were also successfully sued.

Magical Mystery Tour (1982) (121 Mins)
Empire Films (Australia) (121 Mins)
"Empire Films" in Australia cashed in with their 1982 VHS release of "Magical Mystery Tour" which didn`t
last too long before Apple pounced. Sometime in the 90`s "Avenue One" managed to sneak out a very poor copy of the film onto DVD.
I doubt it lasted long on the market.

The Compleat Beatles (1982) (121 Mins)
PBS (TV May 1982); MGM/United Artists VHS & Laserdisc (Nov 1982); Theatrical Release (Feb 1984); Laserdisc Re-Issue (1994) (121 Mins)
This was the first ever official documentary produced that tried to show the history of The Beatles but due to copyright issues and without The Beatles and Apple Corp permission it was restricted to non copyright newsreel footage and interviews with associates of the band in the 60`s.
It is nicely narrated by actor Malcolm McDowell and includes extensive interviews with a number of people closely associated to The
Beatles throughout their career, including George Martin, their first manager Allan Williams, Cavern Club DJ Bob Wooler, music writer Bill
Harry and musicians Gerry Marsden, Billy J. Kramer, Marianne Faithfull, Billy Preston, Bruce Johnstone, Lenny Kaye and Tony Sheridan.
Authors Nicholas Schaffner was also among the commentators who offered their view on the band's career.
The documentary was directed by Patrick Montgomery and produced by Delilah Films/Electronic Arts Pictures and was initially released as a PBS television documentary in America and then on VHS, Betamax, Laserdisc and even on the little known CED format that same year on the MGM
/UA Home Video label. The 1982 laserdisc was released on the NTSC format in Japan and on PAL in England in 1983. Later in 1984 it was shown in theatres by MGM and United Artists. MGM briefly re-issued the laserdisc in a remastered stereo edition in 1994 but not long after
Apple, apparently, stepped in and had it taken off the market due to the upcoming Anthology series According to an interview with the Producer/Director, Patrick Montgomery this is how the documentary came about:
"I can tell you the history of this film because I produced and directed it. I was hired by Delilah Books in 1980 to make a short
promotional film for the two volume set they were publishing of all of the Beatles sheet music called "The Compleat Beatles" Issued Oct
1981). Because the project was being backed by ATV Music which at the time controlled the Beatles publishing rights I had complete run of
the song catalogue as well as access to all the EMI masters. I started collecting footage and shooting interviews and by the time I was finished had a four hour rough cut of the entire Beatles story and Delilah realized that it could be something much bigger than just a
promotional short. But we did not have the Beatles permission so it was whittled down to two hours as we were forced to remove footage that they controlled the rights to, including the Ed Sullivan Show (we did use the audience shots but could not use the performance).
MGM/UA Home Video came up with the money to finish the film and they released it on VHS in 1982, at a time when there were very few music documentaries being released on video. It did very well and then in 1984 Delilah and MGM arranged for it to be released theatrically in
the U.S. by a small distributor named Teleculture to give it a second life. It continued to be a best seller on VHS. Some years later, when Paul McCartney was preparing the Beatles Anthology,
he bought the negative and all the rights to the film from Delilah to get it off of the market and clear the way for his production. That is why it is not available on DVD and probably never will be”.
Bootleg DVD`s of "The Compleat Beatles" are fairly common mostly copied from the laserdisc editions. It is also partly available (missing all copyrighted sections) on Youtube.
Actual Beatles footage included excerpts from:
"The Mersey Sound" (Aug 1963); "Some Other Guy" (Cavern, 1962); "Follow The Beatles" (Feb 1964); "The Beatles Come To Town" (Nov 1963);
Arrival in New York & Airport Press Conference (Feb 1964); Stroll Through Central Park (Feb 1964); Washington Concert (Feb 1964);
"Follow The Beatles" (March/April 1964); Blokker Concert, Holland (June 1964); Filming "Help!"" Newsreel (May 1965);
MBE Footage Outside Buckingham Palace (Oct 1965); Budokan Concert, Tokyo, Japan (June 1966); Strawberry Fields Forever & Penny Lane Promos (Jan/Feb 1967);
"Our World" - All You Need is Love” (June 1967); Bangor, Wales Newsreels (Aug 1967); "Hello Goodbye" Promo (Nov 1967);
"I Beatles in Ritrio" (India) (March 1968); New York Press Conference (May 1968); "Yellow Submarine" Premiere (July 1968); "David Frost Show" - "Hey Jude"; "Let it Be" Promo.

Fab Four - The Beatles (1986) (VHS)
Liberty Home Video (Australia) (117 Mins)
One of the first (if not the first) Beatles "cash-in" VHS videos on the market was "Fab Four - The Beatles" that seems to have originated from Australia.
This one was fairly terrible and used cover band versions of their songs throughout and even had pointless segments on Elvis singing
Beatles songs and even one on Mark Chapman! It included some average quality footage from their 1964 Australian tour and other out of copyright newsreels from 1964.
Overall it was as bad as you could imagine but it did start an avalanche of similarly badly put together documentaries which still continue to this day, all using the majority of the same uncopyrighted newsreel footage.

Beatles Around The World (1982)
Good Times Music/Movietime Inc. (USA) (53 Mins)
A rather obscure interesting release. This seems to have been initially issued as a film shown in theatres in America with one site claiming it dates from 1970 but from our research it
was mentioned as being a support feature, in some theatres, to the film "E.T."" in the US so that puts it at around May 1982.
I believe this is probably the same film, minus the promo videos, that was also issued by "Entertainment Properties" in 1988 on VHS and then on DVD by "Video Music Inc" in 2004.
The film & DVD includes footage from:
Washington Concert, Feb 1964
The "Shakespeare Sketch" from "Around The Beatles", 1964
Budokan Concert, Japan 1966
Penny Lane, SFF, Hello Goodbye & Revolution promos*. (*Film release only)

Fun With The Fab Four (1986) (VHS)
Good Times Music/Movietime Inc. (USA) (53 Mins)
This seems to have been a partial copy of the Australian "Fab Four" video but without the Elvis and Chapman segments.
It contains various newsreels as well as interviews from their 1965 US "Help" PC; Pete Best on "I`ve Got a Secret";
Sydney June 1964 PC (w/Jimmie Nicol); MBE Int; LA 1965 PC; John`s hilarious SVT Stockholm Int (tears up book); Shakespeare sketch from "Around The Beatles".
In 2002 a DVD (direct copy of the 1986 VHS video) was issued by Good Times Music in various markets around the World
and has been re-issued ever since using different artwork but the contents has always been the same.
It has also been re-issued more recently on DVD in Germany under the title: "The Beatles Explosion".
In 2002, possibly only in Australia, they even issued a 3 disc DVD box set of the videos they had previously issued in the 1980`s and 1990`s:
"Fun With The Fab Four"; "Beatles Around The World" and "Beatles Celebration".

The Making of Help! The Movie (1988) (VHS)
This VHS video was released in the 1988 after four rolls of silent 8mm film were purchased via auction in England.
It came packaged in a 10" metal film can and included the videotape in a clamshell sleeve,
a "Help!" button, and photocopies of a 1971 check signed by John Lennon and a 1963 letter from Brian Epstein to a business associate.
The 14 minute silent home movie was issued in both NTSC and PAL formats and was limited to a one time pressing of 5000 copies.

Alone & Together (VHS) (1991)
Passport International Productions/Simitar Films (UK/US) (34 Mins)
1991 VHS (Passport International Productions/Simitar Films) (UK/US) (34 Mins)
1991 VHS (RBC Entertainment/Guardian Films) (UK/US) (34 Mins)
1991 Music World (Hughes Leisure Group) (Australia & New Zealand)
2001 IMC (Europe) (DVD); Guardian Films; 2003 (Europe) (DVD)
Features Washington (Feb 1964) & Japan (1966) Live Concert Footage.

Yesterday (1989)
Music World (Hughes Leisure Group) (Australia & New Zealand) (60 Mins)
1989 & 1991 Music World (Hughes Leisure Group) (Australia & New Zealand) (60 Mins)
Yet another video featuring the fabs Washington concert (Feb 1964) & Tokyo Budokan concert (1966). The difference with this one is they
have filled it up with TV performances from The Byrds, The Beach Boys; The Animals, Donovan & The Mamas & The Papas.
This video was also packaged with "Alone & Together" as a "double feature".

On The Road (1991)
Music World Video & Magnum Music Group (Australia/USA) (53 Mins)
1991 Music World (Hughes Leisure Group) (Australia & New Zealand); 1991 Magnum Music Group (USA)
You guessed it, this one features the Washington concert (Feb 1964) & Japan Budokan Concert (1966) plus Penny Lane, SFF & Hello Goodbye promos.
Also featured performances from The Byrds, The Beach Boys; The Animals, Donovan & The Mamas & The Papas.
This video was also coupled with another release called "Downunder" that featured newsreels from The Beatles June 1964 Australian & NZ
tour and issued on DVD by Payless Entertainment in 1996. "Music World" just didn`t know how to stop.

The Beatles Celebration (1999)
1999 Delta Entertainment Corporation (USA) (56 mins)
With the name "Geoffrey Giuliano" we have all we need to know. Total rubbish DVD that contains Beatlefest excerpts of panels with Pete
Best, Allan Williams and Tony Sheridan. He also has an interview with Fred Seaman! There is some small clips of Paul at various press
conferences on his 1989-1990 World tour and from John`s Jan 1970 Danish press conference. The word "cash-in" comes quickly to mind.
Avoid at all costs. Re-issued in 2003 & 2010.

The Beatles Unauthorised (2002)
Good Times Entertainment (1996 VHS; 2002 DVD) (52 Mins)
Good Times Entertainment were at it again with yet another repackaging of the same old material,
namely the Washington Feb 1964 concert and the other usual video suspects.

Love Me Do (2003)
Delta Visual Entertainment (US) (30 Mins)
2003 Delta Entertainment (30 Mins)
"The Beatles: Love Me Do" DVD, apart from various newsreel interviews (mainly on their US tours), also has interviews with Victor
Spinetti, Allan Williams, footage of Tony Sheridan recording "My Bonnie" with his band, and a live performance by Paul McCartney.
At 30 mins in length it`s not great value at all.

From The Beginning...To The End (2004/2008)
2004 MVD Visual (USA) (54 Mins)
Another shocker that utilises footage from the Washington concert (without the live sound!) and footage from "The Beatles First US Visit".
Another DVD to avoid.

Around The World Platinum Collection (2005/2018)
DVD Family Classics (USA) (60 Mins?)
Not to be confused with either of the previous two releases of the same name, this DVD contains the live TV broadcast of The Beatles
various arrivals at airports and town halls during their Australian tour in June 1964 so it is basically a bootleg rather than a
semi-official release. The copyright would surely be owned by a TV network in Australia?

Since the early 2000`s no new Beatles cash-in DVD`s seem to have leaked onto the market though the previous ones on DVD still
linger around. Since the advent of the blu ray disc we have only been able to find one "Cash-in" doco released on this format and that is:
It Was Fifty Years Ago Today: The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper & Beyond (2017)
Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment (USA) (114 Mins + 4.5 hrs of bonus material)
This blu ray disc has interviews with "former employees, fellow musicians, family members and journalists supported by a vast array of
exclusive never-seen-before footage". Actually uses rare newsreel footage as well as interviews with Freda Kelly, Pete Best, Tony
Brambell, Hunter Davies, Jenny Boyd & Julia Baird amongst others. BTW The "Archive Producer" is Keith Badman which explains some of the
rarer footage they used whether it was legal or not is another question. Over all this is one of the better "non-official" doco`s that has been made.
Footage includes:
MBE silent footage; BBC News Airport interview (Aug 1966); Washington arrival & pc (Aug 1966 colour); Chicago pc (Aug 1966 colour);
Brian Epstein interview (US Tour Aug 1966); Heathrow Airport Interview (July 1966); ITN News Memphis concert (Aug 1966 tour);
Sydney arrival (June 1964); Memphis arrival (Aug 1966); Reporting `66 (Dec 1966); "How I Won The War" Premiere (Oct 1967);
ITV News Paul Interview (June 1967); Reuters - George Recording "Wonderwall Music" (Jan 1968); Bangor, Wales Footage (Aug 1967);
Apple Boutique Opening (Colour Dec 1967); Leaving For India (Feb 1968); Paul & Ringo Arriving in Bombay, India (Colour Feb 1968);

Around The World (2018)
Destra Entertainment/Payless (Australia) (110 Mins)
Not to be confused with the previous same titled release, this DVD actually contains the entire 1964 TV special "Around The Beatles" plus
the Washington & Tokyo concerts. Not sure how they managed to issue the complete "Around The Beatles" as this is surely strongly
copyrighted? It has also been issued on DVD with the title "Classic" and again in 2003 by the "Wow Corporation" though that maybe an actual bootleg.

Home Back To Years