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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sean Kelly

Hot Docs 2013: My Thoughts on Good Ol' Freda

Good_Ol_Freda

The Beatles have, and probably always will, be remembered as one of the all-time great rock and roll bands.  There have been countless stories told about the band over the years and there is almost left to say.  In fact, Good ‘Ol Freda’s story of the band’s secretary Freda Kelly can be considered to be the last true story of The Beatles.

Freda Kelly began her involvement with The Beatles as a fan, who watched the band play at the Cavern club about 90 times.  She talked to the band after the shows and got to know them personally, with them sometimes offering her lifts home.  Freda helped out in The Beatles’ fan club, which she eventually took over.  Freda became friends with The Beatle’s manager Brian Epstein and was eventually made his secretary.  She managed the fan club simultaneously and was tasked with answering thousands of fan mail letters and writing a regular newsletter.  By the end of it, Freda Kelly worked for The Beatles for eleven years, one year longer than the ten years the band was together.

The bulk of the film is made up of interviews with Freda Kelly telling her story, interspersed with archive photos and videos.  There are a few moments in the film, where Freda travels to the locations of some key events in The Beatles’ career.  This included the Empire Theatre – home to the band’s first big concert and Castle Street – where 200,000 people once gathered for a Beatles homecoming, which was when Freda realized how big the band had become.

The film describes how Freda got to know each member of the band personally.  She was particularly close with Ringo Starr and she often visited his home.  Ringo’s mother treated Freda like the daughter she never had and Freda one of the first people to see, Ringo’s son, Zak Starkey when he was born.  In fact, Ringo Starr makes an appearance in the film, giving a greeting during the closing credits.

Freda was a notoriously private person and kept her past involvement with The Beatles secret from everyone she knew.  Today she still works as a secretary, but for a much more low key firm.  While she still has some memorabilia in her attic, she gave most of it away in 1974.  Even though this memorabilia would have huge monetary value today, Freda is comforted by the fact that she was able to give the items to true Beatles fans.

Freda decided that the time has come to tell her story and I am quite happy that she did.  There are not too many stories left to tell about The Beatles, especially since many of the people involved with the band, including John Lennon and George Harrison, are now dead and gone.  While she remained in the background, Freda Kelly was a person who witnessed Beatlemania from the beginning, right until the end.  I thought it was quite interesting hearing the story of the band told from her perspective.  Despite being a member of the inner circle, Freda still considers herself a Beatles fans and that she likes to think that she is still where she was in the beginning.

Overall, if you are a fan of The Beatles, and music history documentaries in general, you should find Good Ol’ Freda to be an enjoyable watch.

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Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described ├╝ber-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).