Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Review: Mary McCartney’s Abbey Road Documentary is Not to Be Missed, for Beatles Fans or Anyone Else


I’m sadly late to this game. But I have only just now watched Mary McCartney’s “If These Walls Could Sing” on Hulu, and I’m agog. It’s a beautiful film about Abbey Road Studios, particularly the Beatles and George Martin’s historic hit making journey.

After having gone through Peter Jackson’s voluminous “Get Back” several times, I can recommend Mary McCartney’s movie as a more concise look at the Beatles’ process of creating their later, and ironic, recordings. There’s wonderful footage not even in the Jackson project or anywhere else unless you’re an obsessive archivist of Beatles material.

There are other artists, too. I didn’t realize Elton John played piano on the Hollies’ “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” right in that room. Ditto Jimmy Page, long before Led Zeppelin, playing guitar while Shirley Bassey recorded “Goldfinger” with John Barry. Their recollections are invaluable.

British star Cliff Richard is featured, as is Pink Floyd. We get more of the story of “Dark Side of the Moon”‘s creation here than anywhere else. The warring Gallagher brothers of Oasis, who usually seem insane, are quite reasonable talking about their heavily Beatle inspired work like “Wonderwall.” And so on.

Mary McCartney is Paul and Linda’s third daughter after Heather and Stella. Like her mother Linda she’s an accomplished photographer and has an excellent eye. You can see why she wanted to commemorate this place that, as she says, grew up in. We see her a baby photographed crawling on the carpet. The studio is in her blood, so no one else could pulled this off.

What Mary does, besides explaining the history, is give her witness to her father’s and the Beatles history. She’s found footage of them constructing the White Album and Abbey Road, all of which is a revelation. Obviously, she leans heavily on her father’s work. But as in “Get Back,” you see Paul McCartney writing his classics, on film, in real time, and putting together all those albums and you can’t believe this all really happened. As Ringo Starr jokes, if it hadn’t been for Paul the group would have made three albums, not eight.

Kudos to Mary McCartney. I wish I’d seen this last summer or before, but I didn’t what can I say? I don’t even know whose movie it was. But if you have Hulu, it’s right there, and not to be missed.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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