*This documentary is special to me in more ways than one; but most importantly, it was the first film I screened for CINEMACY back in July 2013. It set the bar for the type of content I wanted to cover and share with you.
Freda Kelly was your average teenage girl in 1961; she went to school, was shy around boys, and enjoyed hanging out with friends and discovering the “latest” musical talent. One night, she happened to see a band that changed her life forever. That band was The Beatles, at the time just a local Liverpudlian group hoping for their big break. Smitten with the boys, Freda literally jumped on the bandwagon and became their official secretary. As history reflects, the Beatles stayed together as a group for 10 years, although Freda was onboard for 11. In Good Ol’ Freda, director Ryan White explores the untold stories of Beatlemania, and Freda shares her personal experience for the first time in 50 years.
The transition from small town band to worldwide success is documented through Freda’s stories. She recalls working for Brian Epstein and how devastating it was to deal with his death. Her stories about Paul, John, George and Ringo are so engaging and funny; she does a great job of personifying these icons and showing that they really were just “average” boys. The archival footage paired with original recordings and songs from the group is exciting to see on the big screen, any Beatles fan would agree.
“Genuine” is the best word to describe both Freda and this film because, up until now, Freda has kept this past life a sort of mystery to her friends and even family.
Some of the documentaries’ best moments come from Freda’s days at the Beatles Headquarters as she recalls outlandish requests from fans. A fan once sent her a stick of gum for one of the boys to chew on and send it back, which she did. From cutting pieces of material from their clothes to collecting their hair after a haircut, Freda did everything she could to satisfy the frenzy of Beatles fans.
“Genuine” is the best word to describe both Freda and this film because, up until now, Freda has kept this past life a sort of mystery to her friends and even family. She didn’t want her past to overshadow who she is today, which is why she kept all of her Beatles memorabilia (worth over thousands of dollars) neatly tucked away in her attic. The only reason why she even agreed to make the film, she explains, is to show her grandson one day so he knows what a full life she had “before the memory box goes completely.”
If you’re a fan of The Beatles, then Good Ol’ Freda is a must see; it’s a fantastic story with heart and quirk without seeming gossipy. It highlights the evolution of the group through the eyes of the one who was there through it all; the challenges, the tours, the iconic breakthroughs and the momentum of success from the greatest band in history.