Why no Let It Be film


In a new interview with Cinematographer Tony Richmond, who worked on the “Let It Be” film under director Michael Lindsay-Hogg, Richmond weighs in on what seems to be holding up an official release of the film for the home video market. Here is the part of the interview where he speaks about this film:

“After shooting The (Rock’n’Roll) Circus, Michael Lindsay-Hogg said he was going to do a TV special for the Beatles and would I shoot it? I asked if he intended to shoot on film or tape and when he said ‘on tape,’ I said I wasn’t interested. At around the same time, a mate of mine, Denis O’Dell, was running Apple Films for the Beatles. And Denis said, ‘the Beatles are coming here to rehearse for a TV special (the very one Michael was going to direct). Why don’t you get a couple of 16mm cameras and a couple of guys and come down and shoot some stuff and we can make a kind of documentary of them rehearsing.’

“We shot thousands and thousands of feet of 16mm footage. There was a discussion about where they would shoot the actual TV special. Each Beatle wanted a different place. A few days later they still couldn’t make up their minds and John said to me, ‘What’s all the shit you’ve been shooting?’ He liked the dailies and said, ‘We don’t have to do anything else; we’ll just use this and do a free concert on a roof somewhere. Let’s do it tomorrow night.’ And that became Let It Be. It’s as simple as that!

“It was released as a film. Since then, we remastered it for DVD and there were so many outtakes that weren’t used in the film that really show the acrimony between all of the Beatles. But that’s still being held up by George Harrison’s estate and his wife and Yoko Ono because they don’t want the acrimony shown.”

Source: American Cinematheque

36 Responses

  1. Unknown says:

    Funny about the 'acrimony'…I tend to find that most of the outtakes floating around show more fun and laughs. Like the "Help" send up…

  2. Unknown says:

    PS. I was amazed to hear recently a LIB outtake of Paul playing Martha My Dear, – that included (with no mention from the uploader) discussion featuring John about the idea of getting Eric Clapton to stand in – since George had just left the band…!

  3. wogew says:

    This is the discussion DirectorDonP mentions: youtube.com/watch?v=LU8F0h6mND8

  4. Rich says:

    When does this film go out of copyright. A presume anyone could release it once that happens?

  5. CrackinThunder says:

    This is not only a musical project but a historical one and the fans from all these years deserve to have it. Here is an easy way to fix the estate concerns:

    A. DVD 1: Release the movie as is. Let It Be is not a depressing film and has been unfairly labeled as that. (Yes a few tense moments, but also funny stuff and on balance it is great to hear/see them. The poor grainy look and terrible sound quality when it was released colored peoples opinions of it being a dark movie).
    B. DVD 2 (to please the estates concerns and fans): Extras: Show the unseen laughs, the banter, the oldies played that are worth a listen/view that weren't in Let It Be. There was enough film made to show that.
    C. Deluxe Edition with Book (same book that was released in the LIB Box in the UK originally); With additional outtakes of talk, banter, and music.
    John Lennon always said it was good Let It Be was released to show the Beatles with their pants down. Let the public back in on the real artist with their foibles and warts. It makes them more human and makes us feel closer to them.

  6. Martin says:

    John probably wouldn't care about any 'acrimony' being shown, and George was always fairly open about his disputes with Paul and John at Twickenham ('Wah Wah' and The Anthology). I'd hate to see a sanitised Let It Be. This type of 'airbrushing' has already crept into Beatles releases. For the sleevenotes for the 2009 remasters there was no mention of acrimony, rows, drugs, Klein or Yoko. Surely certain parties can't be sensitive about such things all these years later? It'd be like The Stones omitting the Redlands bust, the problems with Brian Jones, Anita Pallenberg, Altamont, Mick Taylor's departure, Keef's drug habit, the Trudeau scandal, the mid 80s Mick/Keith feud etc. It's all part of the legend, and I think Apple would get praise if they had the guts to put out both the good and the bad bits of the Let It Be project.

  7. Martin says:

    John probably wouldn't care about any 'acrimony' being shown, and George was always fairly open about his disputes with Paul and John at Twickenham ('Wah Wah' and The Anthology). I'd hate to see a sanitised Let It Be. This type of 'airbrushing' has already crept into Beatles releases. For the sleevenotes for the 2009 remasters there was no mention of acrimony, rows, drugs, Klein or Yoko. Surely certain parties can't be sensitive about such things all these years later? It'd be like The Stones omitting the Redlands bust, the problems with Brian Jones, Anita Pallenberg, Altamont, Mick Taylor's departure, Keef's drug habit, the Trudeau scandal, the mid 80s Mick/Keith feud etc. It's all part of the legend, and I think Apple would get praise if they had the guts to put out both the good and the bad bits of the Let It Be project.

  8. Martin says:

    I read somewhere that a planned (but aborted) Let It Be DVD release was to have a bonuns feature called 'Crossing The Road'…. This was supposed to be 'new' promo films featuring Twickenham/Saville Row footage to make clips for songs like 'Something' 'Maxwell's Silver Hammer' 'I Want You (She's So Heavy)'etc from Abbey Road. I saw this on some Beatles blog around the time of Let It Be Naked, but it was probably nonsense, as some of these clips would probably have made it onto the 1+ DVD. Still, nice idea though…

  9. A.H. says:

    Lennon's estate (Yoko) and George Harrison's estate object to the inclusion of "acrimony" but McCartney doesn't? Go figure!

  10. Popper says:

    I wouldn't mind a sanitised LIB if that resolved the matter. I derive no pleasure from seeing Paul and George bickering. I'd rather that screen time was used, for example, for the group jam of "All Things Must Pass". The bickering etc could be shunted onto a separate DVD of the original cut if needs be. It's high time they did something with it all. Ditto the audio – release a box set – the LIB LP, the Glyn Johns version, the complete rooftop gig and a couple of LPs of sessions.

    • Unknown says:

      Not including the PaulGeorge rawl is like releasing the Shining without, the "here's Johnny" scene…come on its part of of the movie, period no discussion. It should be cleaned up released as is, promoted as was, with extra's….were's the confusion apple???

  11. Brian Fried says:

    McCartney doesn't care about the acrimony because he believes (a) it had worthwhile music, (b) it's a historical artifact that is wanted and (c) it won't affect the world's belief in The Beatles because we already know it was a hard time for them as a band.

    Yoko, however, has been very protective of her image of John Lennon. And the Harrison estate does not want George to be portrayed as a bitter man — especially when it was a fight with Lennon, not McCartney, which led him to leave for a spell.

  12. Popper says:

    On the subject of George's bitterness, it has to be said he gave the impression of a deep, festering resentment towards Paul from then onwards, for the rest of his days. It seems to be it was always George who would block things getting released, like LIB, Carnival of Light, a third collaboration in the 1990s and so on. I really don't know what his big issue was, but of course I don't know what really happened between them all. I do think that left to his own devices, Paul would have released much more than has ever been allowed out (bonus tracks on the remasters, for example).

  13. James Percival says:

    In a recentish interview Mark Lewisohn mentioned business decisions in 68 which had a profound effect on relationships within the band – let's all wait to the later version of Tune in are published. But I don't think that there is any doubt that by early 1969 George was profoundly p***ed off with the patronising attitude towards him by John, Paul, George Martin and probably a few more. He also cited his time in Woodstock with Dylan and the Band as changing his attitude to going back to the Beatles. It was evident in the bonus material from the Anthology project that he didn't want to be with Paul. I suspect with John they would have patched things up, but John died when they were still estranged. It's timely that I Me Mine is just being republished because that book caused a massive row with John which he mentioned in interviews just before his death.
    I suppose we ought to be thankful that George lost a load of cash with Handmade films otherwise the whole Anthology project might never have happened!
    LIB will come out eventually, probably when most of the fans / collectors are dead or don't care anymore. I saw it twice on TV. I'd like to have it, but I am more gratified that a decent Cd of the music was eventually released.

  14. Martin says:

    I agree, Popper. George could seem petty where Paul was concerned. George's comments about how he could 'never' join a band featuring Paul, and that Willie Weeks was a better bass player (except he isn't) seem like they were done to upset Paul. George could have just said 'who knows' or 'maybe' like John did in his later years when asked about his former bandmates. But it seems like Harrison wanted to put the boot into Macca. And when Geldof asked George about Live Aid, he apparently said, "Paul didn’t ask me to sing on it (Let It Be) ten years ago, why does he want me now?" Plenty of other artists put their differences aside for that event (The Who, Led Zeppelin, CSNY, Black Sabbath), so it does look rather petty now.

  15. Martin says:

    Another George dig at Paul was in the late 80s, when he was asked about what he thought of McCartney possibly redoing Beatles songs. To which George replied 'Maybe it's because he's ran out of any decent songs of his own', and you could tell Harrison was not joking. I'm sure Macca must have found his sniping tiresome at times. Paul resurfaced soon after George's remarks with the excellent 'Flowers In The Dirt'.

  16. James Percival says:

    Hi Martin and Popper
    But even though the bitterness and sniping were unwelcome, do you not think that George had a point? Years of being a second class Beatle, limited allocation of album space, Paul taking over on guitar, generally being treated like a kid (George often alluded to the age gap being significant in how he was treated in the band) and probably more respect from his peers outside the band. There was a recentish article on George being Rock's best kept secret. For me he was the one who continued to grow after the split: as a writer, as a player and as a singer. I prefer listening to his albums these days and I would take Cloud 9 over Flowers in the Dirt.

  17. Popper says:

    Hi James.

    To be perfectly honest, I don't see George's point, and this is what I don't get about his eternal acrimony. "Second class Beatle" may be a harsh way to look at it, but the truth is, George was never on a par with Lennon or McCartney in terms of creativity. That's not to belittle what he contributed to the group, but he just wasn't as strong as the front two. He surely must have realised this – Within You Without You and Blue Jay Way were his songwriting input in 1967, for example.

    And I think it's a bit of a myth about Paul taking over on guitar. Paul did sometimes play lead, but not often. Equally George 'took over' on bass for She Said She Said, Maxwell's Silver Hammer, Golden Slumbers and others.

    Maybe George was resentful about personal things in 1969, but why he would still harbour a grudge come the 1990s is beyond me. He professed to be a philosophical soul but couldn't seem to get over what had happened decades ago – and what exactly did McCartney do that was so permanently unforgivable anyway? I would say there's no equivalent of How Do You Sleep? (which George happily played guitar on) in Paul's catalogue, and that song must have hurt Paul deeply. Rather, I always found Paul supportive of both George and Ringo, at least in public.

    On Anthology, I'm sure Paul would have played through some old Beatle songs for the cameras and fans, and we'd all have that to enjoy and remember – but as I understand it they had to have a crisis meeting in the garden, because George was so uncomfortable about the prospect of playing music together again. So, as a compromise of some sort, we only have Ain't She Sweet and Thinking of Linking to look back on. I just don't understand what George's problem was.

    • Unknown says:

      I agree with a lot of what you are saying, but George had a real psychosis and paranoia about the Beatle craziness, legalities, expectations, what people thought and were completely wrong about…George was George and he was so much in the now (& what will be…) that obsessing about the past and/or recreating it for artistic sake may have been just too much…no punn intended…

  18. James Percival says:

    Hi Popper
    You make some very strong points, and I guess we will never know why George found it so hard to be with Paul up until his death. I mentioned some of the business shenanigans, but I suspect it was more about feeling undervalued and dominated more than anything else. It also seems to be the case that George was not always able to live up to his spiritual aims in a number of areas in his life.

    I think you example of 1967 is telling though; one thing about being a late developer is that the original perception is hard to shift. If we look at 1970 then there is a good case for saying George was the preeminent writer, and this is probably what rankled with him, particularly when J and P rejected a lot of the songs that ended up on ATMP.
    I think that the various bonds in the Beatles need a bit more analysis. Clearly J & P's relationship was the most important and complex; it certainly seems to have been a rivalry from the start. It has frequently been written that George idolised John but then grew more distant from him. George and Ringo clearly have a very deep bond from before Ringo even joined the Beatles, and a relationship that survived some of the bizarre stuff such as wife swopping in the early 70s. But G & P seem never to have been that close; the fact that George was in the year below at school seems to have defined their relationship in some deep and fundamental way. But you are right to question why George was so resentful for so long.

  19. voxstarstream says:

    Leave it to Yoko and Olivia to keep the bootleggers in business!

  20. Macfamily says:

    Popper and James, just got say I enjoyed your views on George and Paul. Both of you bring up excellent points. I also listen to George's solo output more than I do the others. Thanks for the friendly banter. Really great!


  21. Debjorgo says:

    I think George had said somewhere that he resented Paul not spending the same time with his songs that he did with John's songs.

    I think we forget that George and Paul were best friends a year and a half before they met up with John.

  22. Unknown says:

    If Apple can't release LIB, why not release only the musical performances? Let It Be, Two of Us, Long and Winding Road and the rooftop concert.

  23. Unknown says:

    Paul is still making Comments about John. He is still holding onto bitter feelings instead of being thankful for his time in this world. He would not want the movie shown in its entirety because it would tarnish his PR phoney image. I had the pleasure and privilege of meeting John when I was nineteen and we planned to stay together. He wanted to change EVERYTHING in his life and never fully forgave the others or his so called wife. I was with John till the day he left. I was twenty two weeks old. He wanted to do so much a lot of it concerning the Beatles but he ran out of time.

  24. Klark_kent says:

    Stick with the bootlegs, I guess. This is nothing short of dumb. Why are the wives carrying on the grudges? Yoko and Olivia need to grasp the concept that only the bootleggers will ever profit from this. Is that what John and George would have wanted?

  25. A.H. says:

    To reiterate my earlier point: "Lennon's estate (Yoko) and George Harrison's estate object to the inclusion of "acrimony" but McCartney doesn't? Go figure!"…

    I put forward this comment because – to me – Paul has, in his years in the limelight, is the one that has mostly held back from giving interviewers, authors, e.t.c. the full version of events in The Beatles' story (although John was prone to it on occasions). He offers some delicious tid-bits but doesn't go full-on candid in the way that John and George did. McCartney is almost politician-like in interviews – to the point that I don't watch his interviews any more as he keeps repeating the same old, same old over and over. Didn't John once say that McCartney was the best PR man he'd ever met (or something along those lines)? Of all the surviving Beatles (and wive's e.t.c.), McCartney's the one I'd least expect to want to have 'Let It Be' seen in all it's 'glory' as it were. However, I do agree with an earlier point that Ono most certainly has sanitised Lennon's image and history.

  26. Unknown says:

    George was able to forgive Eric Clapton after fucking and stealing his wife but not Paul? WTF

  27. Unknown says:


  28. Backman says:

    I saw the original in a theater. You mean they were human? That the first part of the movie sounded like any bad high school band? You see them work and work and then the final product. Oh My God you are not telling me they had emotions and fought? How unhuman of them! Well, the rest of us noble beings can look down upon these antics with amused disdain.

    I mean once walking on water, my socks did get a bit damp, but the only other problem people have ever had with me was the blinding light coming off my halo.

    Damage the Beatle Brand!?!?! WTF!!!???!!! "Well I saw Paul and George saying unnice words to each other! The Beatles are banned from ever being played again!"


    I am not a Walrus. I am an asshole, but to my credit, I am a Certified Asshole.

    Release the original. Put it anywhere as a premium program and I guarantee it hits the roof, right before it blows it off.


  29. Unknown says:

    I have a fairly decent copy of the LIB film, which was distributed by United Artists, who had the legal right to do so. T is easy enough to get a copy on eBay, although I got mine from a department store a few years ago.

    I am confident that it will have a 50th anniversary edition on vinyl and CD and very likely on film as well. I used to be on Michael Lindsay Hogg’s FB, and when I asked him about whether there will be a remastering he went very quiet. Hmmmm….I wonder why.

  30. Unknown says:

    I came here for info on a “Let It Be” video and find the gossip and theorizing sad and wasteful. Here’s a link to an interview with John talking about mending the past with Paul, still playing with him, and open to getting back together with The Beatles in the studio, which unfortunately did not hapoen while he was alive. Hopefully, we’ll have a video sooner than later. <a href=" youtu.be/ps_O7munVTI”>John Lennon Interview</a>

  31. Unknown says:

    Paul has said there is open discussion going on with Apple for a new release in 2020. Still a lot to see.

  32. Uncle Ned says:

    It's nice to read all the intelligent and thoughtful comments here from people who IMHO know what they're talking about. I've read and heard comments about the Beatles elsewhere that are so far from the truth, so revisionist, that it makes me not just angry, but also sad that their story is being rewritten by people who don't know.
    As far as "Let It Be" not being released, it's certainly odd. It was very available in the early 80's when I rented it and dubbed a copy which I still have. I don't know what year it was pulled from circulation.
    What I think is great about the film is that it shows just how real they were. It captures a huge amount of ho-hum attitude during practicing, but when they needed to perform for real for the intended studio versions of "Let It Be", "The Long and Winding Road", and "Two of Us", and live on the roof, what they were all about and what came naturally to them, playing songs as a band, comes out with a vengeance.

  33. vegavairbob says:

    With all the outakes of their recordings that were released in the 90s with the Anthology releases why is Let It Be still not been re-release?

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