Richards' description of Lester's 1964-65 films as "mercurial, modish mosaics, his style fragmented and breathlessly fast-moving, an amalgam of influences from silent comedy, television commercials, comic strips, Marx Brothers and Goon Show surrealism" is one account that considers how they looked to audiences at the time (159). It explains how they managed to set the style for the rest of the Sixties, but the mildness of both the satirical humor and the sexual openness were also indicative of the direction followed in depictions of Swinging London. As Aldgate's chronicle of the difficulties over producing Alfie in various media shows, despite the loosening of social standards the official censorship of the arts retained a strong interest in maintaining certain aspects of the status quo. The Sixties saw, however, a strong and widespread push towards "wider de-censorship of the arts which culminated in the 1968 Theatres act and removal of the Lord Chamberlain's powers of censorship" (Aldgate 51).
The Beatles' personae were, in the early ears, not particularly threatening and the film is studded with gently surreal non-sequiturs, dreadful jokes, and witty visual efforts such as their suddenly appearing outside the window of the train on which they had been riding, easily keeping pace as it rushes through the countryside. The music was given great prominence, of course, and Lester presented several numbers as montages in which the four men simply ran and jumped about, flailing their arms and legs and fooling about with various props. The only radical elements of their roles in the film involve the very mild tweaking of upper-class characters who are simply put off by their appearance and the gentle satire of people in the music industry--ranging from their demanding manager (who orders his assistant to stop being taller than he), a prickly television director more used to absurd traditional dance numbers, and the press.
Narizzano, Silvio, dir. Georgy Girl.