"The Beatles and WWII"
An infamous film gets a re-boot!
Interview with Tony Palmer

By Ronnie

Right: Updated artwork for the new film

Back in August of 2005, we ran an article on "All This & WWII", the infamous 1976 film of World War II footage set to a soundtrack of Beatles music.

Flash forward to 2016, I suddenly get an e-mail from Tony Palmer which said:

Hi Ronnie,
I remembered you wrote a very good piece some years ago about All This &
Have a look at the attached, which will be released on DVD May 1st.
It's not quite the same film - I have re-edited great chunks of it.
But I've used much of the same material, and of course many of the same songs.
Permit me to say it looks and sounds terrific.
It is not officially announced yet, but I thought I owed it to you to have
the first news because of what you had done before.
Feel free to publicise it if you wish.
All good wishes

I never thought in a million years that the film would get a re-release - and while that isn't happening, the film is getting a re-boot in May, complete with a new title: "The Beatles and WWII". I did a quick search on the web and found this link to purchase the new release.

Tony also sent me a list of the music used this time around:

1. Greensleeves - arr. Vaughan Williams - 2 min.
2. The Fool on the Hill - Helen Reddy - 3:37
3. Yesterday - David Essex - 2:44
4. The Long and Winding Road" - Leo Sayer - 4:47
5. I Am the Walrus - Leo Sayer - 3:49
6. Come Together - Tina Turner - 4:08
7. Shostakovich 11th Symphony - 3 mins
8. Maxwell's Silver Hammer - Frankie Laine - 3:27
9. She's Leaving Home - Bryan Ferry - 3:07
10. Let It Be - Leo Sayer - 3:43
11. Getting Better - Status Quo - 2:19
12. Help! - Henry Gross - 3:07
13. Nowhere Man - Jeff Lynne - 3:56
14. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds - Elton John - 6:15
15. With a Little Help from My Friends - Jeff Lynne - 3 mins.
16. Strawberry Fields Forever - Peter Gabriel - 2:30
17. Get Back - Rod Stewart - 4:24
18. A Day in the Life - Frankie Valli - 4:04
19. Shostakovich 11th Symphony - 3 mins
20. Michelle - Richard Cocciante - 4:00
21. The Long and Winding Road" - Leo Sayer - 4:47
22. When I'm Sixty-Four - Keith Moon - 2:36
23. Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight - The Bee Gees - 3:17
24. Hey Jude - The Brothers Johnson - 4:58
25. Shostakovich 4th Symphony - 4 mins
26. Fool on the Hill - John Williams - 3 mins.

What follows is a recent interview I did with Tony Palmer about "The Beatles and WWII"

EC: After all these years, what inspired you to revisit this project?

Tony Palmer: Instinctively I felt the central idea, and the material, and of course the music, were just too good to be lost forever.

EC: Were there any legal hurdles to "re-booting" the film?

Tony Palmer: The film is completely new, although using some of the original tracks, which we licensed from the MCPS, and a lot of new library footage.

EC: I mean, even to use the name "Beatles" in a film don't you have to get permission from Apple?

Tony Palmer: Well, it is The Beatles music, although not performed by them which is where the 'permission' would be required. Should I say that the music is by Freddie & The Dreamers?

EC: Who owns the original, "All This and World War II"?

Tony Palmer: As it is a new film, we needed to have it copyrighted, which we have done.

EC: Again, were there any obstacles to using some of the same footage?

Tony Palmer: Much of the footage we have used is public domain, or from the Imperial War Museum.

EC: One thing I really liked about the original film was the order of the storyline (I'm a big history buff) and the clever way lyrics were placed with the images (Like showing Chamblerlain with "Living is easy with Eyes Closed" from "Strawberry Fields".) Watching it again last time I also noticed that the ship cannons in "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds"match the drums in one part. Will the new film follow that same formula?

Tony Palmer: Sometimes, but I had a lot of new ideas.

EC: Seeing the list of songs used in the new film, I noticed that several from the 1976 version were now gone: "Magical Mystery Tour", "We Can Work It Out", "Lovely Rita", "Because", "She Came In Through The Bathroom Window", "Polythene Pam", "Sun King", "You Never Give Me Your Money", "The End". Did you feel these were no longer relevant to the re-edit?

Tony Palmer: Correct.

EC: And what inspired you to bring in the music of Shostakovich?

Tony Palmer: It was, and is, relevant to the new edit. For instance, the new closing sequence is all about Hiroshima, and much though I love the Beatles' music, I didn't think their music was up to it, emotionally,or intellectually.

EC: I found a recent interview with Russ Regan from 2014. On the original film he was listed as "executive producer" - did he have any input on the new release?

Tony Palmer: None. I read the Russ Regan piece. I don't think I ever met him. As I think you know, he is quite wrong about my involvement. First I did do a (very) rough cut, and I did show it to Lennon. Second, the reason I was upset was not that 20th Century FOX wanted another cut, but that I had to leave the production halfway through. I had been trying for years to get my series All You Need Is Love off the ground, and suddenly we had the money and the opportunity. Clearly I could not do both, so All This & WWII had to be passed over. It was a perfectly friendly parting and I don't remember any 'bad experiences' to which Regan refers. That was later when Fox junked the whole thing. And that wasn't as a result of 'bad box office'. It was never released because they hated it, or at least hated the re-cut. Full stop. Which is why your link is a very bad copy from a VHS, and is crap.

EC: Is this to be a DVD-only release, or will there be any theatrical showings?

Tony Palmer: Undecided as yet.

EC: Finally, will there be a new CD release of the soundtrack?

Tony Palmer: Undecided as yet.