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H Entries
Earl Hamner, Jr.
Tom Hanks
George Harrison
Ray Harryhausen
Byron Haskin
Howard Hawks
Ben Hecht
David Hedison
Robert A. Heinlein
Charlton Heston
Sir Alfred Hitchcock
Inoshiro Honda
Ron Howard
Rock Hudson
Gale Anne Hurd
Martha Hyer
 
HARRISON, GEORGE
(1943–2001).British songwriter, musician, and producer.

SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY, AND HORROR FILM CREDITS
Acted in, and wrote music for: Help! (Richard LESTER 1965); Magical Mystery Tour (and co-produced with John LENNON, Paul  MCCARTNEY, Denis O'Dell, and Ringo STARR; co-wrote with  John LENNON, Paul MCCARTNEY, and Ringo STARR; and co-directed with Bernard Knowles, John LENNON, Paul MCCARTNEY, and Ringo STARR) (tv movie) (1967); Yellow Submarine (animated) (George Dunning 1968).

Acted in: The Rutles (tv movie) (Gary Weiss and Eric Idle 1978); Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (uncredited) (Michael Schultz 1978); Ringo (tv movie) (Jeff Margolis 1978). Appeared in several music videos.

Provided voice for: "Homer's Barbershop Quartet" (1993), episode of The Simpsons.

Wrote music for: Wonderwall (Joe Massot 1969).

Produced: Monty Python's Life of Brian (Terry Jones 1979); Time Bandits (and wrote theme song for) (Terry GILLIAM 1981); How to Get Ahead in Advertising (Bruce Robinson 1988).

 
For seven eventful years, the members of the Beatles both profited from, and felt imprisoned by, the universal perception that they were four essentially similar, lovable moptops—a belief so widespread that one of the proposed scripts they rejected as their third film would have had them playing four aspects of a single man's personality. Unsurprisingly, after the group split up in 1970, all of the ex-Beatles then struggled to show the world that they were, in fact, distinct and very different individuals. And this volume's original policy of discussing their contributions to science fiction film in a single entry, while perhaps a defensible convenience, can be belatedly recognized as an affront to those efforts.

Back in the 1960s, any perceptive observer could have predicted that George Harrison's future career in film, if he was going to have any career at all, would involve activities far away from the set. For in the two films that made them stars of the screen as well as the music world, A Hard Day's Night (1964) and Help!, it was obvious that, while the camera was naturally drawn to Ringo STARR, and while John LENNON and Paul MCCARTNEY kept striving to attract attention, George only wanted to remain inconspicuous, ready to dutifully give his lines and perform his business but bringing no special enthusiasm to the tasks. The only time he really came to the forefront was in the closing scenes of Help!, when he unexpectedly took the lead in urging his fellow Beatles to be more active in opposing the cultists who kept assaulting them. It is as if he was thinking: hey, if we just keep standing around and letting these guys attack us, this film could go on forever; the only way we can bring this ordeal to an end is to stop them once and for all.

Despite equal billing as co-producer, co-writer, and co-director, George essentially contributed little more than his presence to the Paul MCCARTNEY-driven television film Magical Mystery Tour, and like the other Beatles did as little as possible for the animated film Yellow Submarine. Once the Beatles were freed of their contractual obligation to appear in films and they went their separate ways, it is unsurprising that George's further film and television appearances, aside from musical performances, took the form of brief, inconsequential cameos. Indeed, George's solo career stalled in the 1980s because of his initial reluctance to make music videos, which is surely the major reason why his 1983 album Gone Troppo vanished without a trace; only when he finally agreed to star in some memorable videos was he able to stage a comeback with another solo album, Cloud Nine (1987), and two albums with his supergroup the Traveling Wilburys. His standout contributions were the two videos made for "Got My Mind Set on You"—the more popular one showing George sitting in a home while various objects spring to life, and the other depicting George performing the song within a viewing machine.

At the time when the Beatles were drifting apart while striving to avoid making their third film, George launched a second career as a film composer by writing and recording the score for a little-scene film with a few fantasy sequences, Wonderwall (1968); those who have heard the soundtrack album know that George provided the film with some tuneful mixtures of western and Indian music that might well have led to additional assignments if he had been interested in them. Instead, however, once liberated from the Beatles, George focused primarily on his solo musical career, his further contributions to films being only individual songs (including the pleasant "Dream Away," played over the credits of Time Bandits).

The more consequential aspect of George's involvement in film came about because in the early 1970s, George had formed a friendship with members of the Monty Python comedy troupe—especially Eric IDLE—and when they were understandably having trouble getting funding for their projected second film, a parody of the life of Jesus Christ, George was approached about providing financial support for the project. The result was the formation of a film production company, Handmade Films, with George as a major financier and executive producer, which went on to make more films during the next decade. Thus, even if he played little active role in the creative process, one can credit George for bringing into existence three worthwhile genre films: even if it lacks the crazy sparkle of Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), Monty Python's Life of Brian remains a very entertaining film (is it really an insult to say that it is the second-best Monty Python film?); Time Bandits remains one of Terry GILLIAM's strangest and most memorable films; and How to Get Ahead in Advertising is an underappreciated fantasy.

Handmade Films, which otherwise specialized in quirky mainstream movies, shut down in the early 1990s as George entered what would be his final decade of life, afflicted by health problems and generally unproductive, though he did record enough songs to allow his son Dhani to compile a credible posthumous album, Brainwashed. One suspects, though, that his final decade of life completely away from the spotlight was also the happiest period of his life, since he was a rare performer who may have found that he really preferred obscurity. Rather than resenting his eventual years of inactivity, then, we should instead be grateful that he forced himself to remain active for so long.

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