The best Beatles biopics

20 February 2024, 14:58

Fake Beatles in the film Backbeat: cot Williams, Gary Bakewell, Chris O'Neill, Ian Hart and Stephen Dorff.
Fake Beatles in the film Backbeat: cot Williams, Gary Bakewell, Chris O'Neill, Ian Hart and Stephen Dorff. Picture: Alamy

If you’re in the mood for more rock biopics in the wake of Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman, then look no further than The Beatles, the greatest story in music.

The news has been announced that film-maker Sam Mendes will direct four separate biopics about each of the four Beatles - John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. Until they come along, here are some of the best film biopics of The Fab Four.

  1. Backbeat (1994)

    Another look at the early years of the Beatles, zoning in on their days in the sleazy clubs of Hamburg. American actor Stephen Dorff plays the ill-fated Stu Sutcliffe, who dies aged just 21 and Sheryl “Laura Palmer off of Twin Peaks” Lee is his German girlfriend. Along the way, the Fab Four learn to become stars on stage and find their unique style. The music is performed by a supergroup featuring Dave Grohl, Mike Mills of R.E.M. and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth.

    Backbeat (1994) ORIGINAL TRAILER [HQ]

  2. Nowhere Boy (2009)

    Aaron Johnson plays the young John Lennon, who is just rebuilding his relationship with his mother, who abandoned him as a boy. Kristin Scott Thomas plays John’s Aunt Mimi, who has been the lad’s guardian and disapproves of this new, disrupting influence in his life. More of a family drama than a rock biopic, it’s a convincing look into the Beatle’s formative years.

    Nowhere Boy [Official US Trailer]

  3. The Hours And The Times (1991)

    Before Ian Hart played John Lennon in Backbeat, he had a show-stopping appearance in this low key film about the Beatle’s relationship with his manager Brian Epstein. The movie is about the reported relationship that the pair had while on holiday in Spain and speculates as to what may have happened. Not the most orthodox of biopics, but a fascinating film all the same.

    The Hours and Times - Official Trailer - Oscilloscope Laboratories HD

  4. Birth Of The Beatles (1979)

    John Lennon was still alive when this film came out, which must have been weird for him. It kicks off in 1961 with John Lennon and fifth Beatle Stu Sutcliffe are at art school and ends just as the band plan to hit America. It’s a fair attempt at summing up the period (which was barely twenty years before the movie was made, so it looks authentic) and some of the casting is notable today, namely John “Nasty Nick Cotton” Altman as George Harrison and Nigel Havers in the role of George Martin!

    birth of beatles clip 1979

  5. Two Of Us (2000)

    Intriguing drama directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, the man who directed the real Beatles in their Let It Be film. Jared Harris is John Lennon and Aiden Quinn is Paul McCartney and the movie is another speculative play about what may have happened when the two former Beatles met up in New York in 1976. It’s a compelling two-handed drama that’s surprisingly effective.

    Two Of Us - Elevator Scene

  6. John And Yoko - A Love Story (1985)

    It’s occasionally embarrassing, but if you want the bare bones story of what happened when Lennon met Ono, this film will do the trick. Mark McGann is John, who embarks on an intense relationship with Japanese artists Yoko, played by Kim Miyori and takes us right up to the fateful night in New York in December 1980. Worth it to see future Doctor Who Peter Capaldi play George Harrison.

    John Lennon 1 15 Love Story

  7. The Linda McCartney Story (2000)

    If John can do it, so can Paul. Gary Bakewell (who played Macca in Backbeat) is Paul, Elizabeth Mitchell (from the TV show Lost) is the woman who meets him when he’s the biggest star in the world. Together they buy a farm, go veggie and form an even bigger band, Wings. It’s obviously filmed in Vancouver rather than Britain, but this is an efficient look at the post-split McCartney and the live he forged for his family.

    LMS 7

  8. The Rutles (1978)

    If you can’t be arsed with the real thing, here’s Monty Python star Eric Idle’s bizarre take on the story as the Pre-Fab Four shoot to fame and then fall out over the usual. Neil Innes writes some amazing Beatle parodies and Saturday Night Live alumni like Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi show up as weird characters. Can you spot genuine Beatle George Harrison’s cameo?


More on The Beatles

See more More on The Beatles

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