Monday, February 06, 2017
Good Ol' Freda
Directed by Ryan White, Good Ol’ Freda is the story of Freda Kelly who was a secretary the Beatles and its manager Brian Epstein as she helped ran their fan club and other aspects involving the band behind the scenes. The film chronicles the period of her work for the band as well as be someone who had a small but crucial part for their success. The result is one of the most enjoyable and fascinating films about one of the key people who were crucial to the success of the Beatles.
The story of the Beatles remains one of the most illustrious tales in the history of popular music as four lads from Liverpool who would change the world with their music in the course of nearly a decade. Yet, the Fab Four in John, Paul, George, and Ringo wouldn’t have done it without a handful of individuals who would help them get to the top such as their producer George Martin, manager Brian Epstein, road managers/personal assistants Neil Aspinall and Mal Evans, and band publicist Derek Taylor. There’s also another person that deserves who was part of that inner circle that many Beatle historians felt never got enough credit and that is Freda Kelly. Kelly’s role in the Beatles’ behind-the-scenes circle wasn’t just running the fan club and be Brian Epstein’s secretary but it would a role that became much bigger.
Though she started at playing her part age 17 in 1961 where she first saw them at the Cavern Club that year and later be hired by Epstein to be her secretary. She was first a fan of the band and would work for them against her father’s advice as it didn’t just involve answering fan letters and other jobs that is required for secretaries. She would play a very personal part for the band who consider her to be their sister as she was the one person who would be their contact with their families as she would be close with their families. Notably Ringo Starr’s mother whom she consider to be a maternal figure as he lost her own mother some time after her own birth. Her part in being the band’s contact to their families was something the Beatles treasured as she would also be the band’s greatest protector when it came to their personal life as Kelly would also be close to Starr’s first wife Maureen Starkey.
While the film does follow a simple narrative about Kelly’s time working for the Beatles, it does get inter-cut with aspects of her own life many years later as she goes through old memorabilia including a monthly fan club magazine that she ran. Even as she would lead a normal life away from the Beatles since leaving the fan club and Apple in 1972 just two years after the band broke up as she rarely talked about her time with the group for many years. Many of those scenes are very straightforward in the way director Ryan White would interview as well as her daughter Rachel and other people involved with the band or Epstein at the time as well as Paul McCartney’s stepmother Angie with the aid of cinematographer Austin Hargrave. With the help of editor Helen Kearns and sound editor Henry Auerbach, White would compile many photos and rare footage as well as old audio interviews to help tell Kelly’s story.
The film also reveal Kelly’s loyalty to the band and to Liverpool as she would stay in the city rather than move to London as she would be the band’s link to the city and when Brian Epstein died of a drug overdose in 1967. Kelly admitted that things did change after that as she knew that after the shooting of Magical Mystery Tour that the band’s disintegration was going to happen. She also talked about Apple and how it was mismanaged where it was fun early on but the business aspects of it became complicated as she knew that it wasn’t going to last. She would also become more evasive towards the press where Kelly revealed where, as much as she didn’t want to lie, she told the press a lot of things in order to protect the Beatles from bullshit as she also didn’t want to answer personal questions about the band to fans in their monthly magazine.
The film’s music by Paul Koch is very low-key as it play into 1960s style rock n‘ roll to play into the period of the early 1960s while music supervisor Matt Lilley would provide music from the period of the times including a few songs from the Beatles which is surprising for a film that was independently funded. Fortunately, Kelly’s connection with the Beatles would provide that including a post-credits video appearance from Ringo Starr saying hello and thanking Kelly for her part in the success of the Beatles.
Good Ol’ Freda is an incredible film from Ryan White about one of the key figures in the career of the Beatles. It’s a film that tells the story of the woman who didn’t just became the band’s great link to their family and home city but also would handle things that lesser fans would be unable to do as it also makes a great case for Freda Kelly to be named “the Fifth Beatle”. In the end, Good Ol’ Freda is a remarkable film from Ryan White.
© thevoid99 2017