It's Trad, Dad!

The Beatles chose Richard Lester to direct A Hard Day’s Night largely on the strength of this irreverent 1962 comedy, in which two English teens (Craig Douglas and Helen Shapiro) defy the fuddy-duddy mayor of their town to organize a big radio show with all the hottest trad-jazz (i.e. Dixieland) bands. The British trad-jazz craze would soon be vanquished by the Beatles themselves, which isn’t too surprising given the hopelessly square finger-poppin’ daddies on the program (including the Dukes of Dixieland, Chris Barber’s Jazz Band, and the Temperance Seven). But the producers hedged their bets with a smattering of rock ‘n’ roll acts as well—Chubby Checker, Del Shannon, Gary U.S. Bonds, Gene Vincent—and Lester’s brainy sight gags inside the radio station presage the pop-culture blast that he and the Fab Four would deliver two years later. Also known as Ring-a-Ding Rhythm!.