Apple may have snapped up almost all available film footage containing Beatles music, but news organisations are providing rich pickings for documentary makers. From Liverpool To San Francisco attempts to tell the group’s entire story in 100 minutes, from the point of view of ITN, Reuters and Pathe camera crews, focusing on the conquering of America. Each incident is covered with frustrating brevity, although a separate bonus feature goes into great detail over the “bigger than Jesus” controversy. Here a British film unit interviews the great and good of Birmingham, Alabama, including the first radio DJ to ban Beatles records, a pastor and a KKK leader. A second, lighter bonus feature sees the Fab Four interviewed alongside fellow Liverpudlian Ken Dodd.
The John & Yoko title brings together the couple’s home movie footage with the Canadian Broadcast Corporation’s archive of the infamous Montreal “bed-in” of 1969, and the subsequent recording of Give Peace A Chance. Several participants recall the mayhem, seemingly unaware they were about to be part of history. There’s also fascinating footage from six months later, when Pete Seeger led hundreds of thousands of demonstrators in a rendition before the White House. An engrossing account of arguably the most famous protest song of all time.