Arts Review, Movies
Feature documentary on Freda Kelly, the Beatles secretary
Ryan White, director
With: Freda Kelly, the Beatles, Tony Barrow, the Fourmost
Freda Kelly was the right girl at the right time. Or maybe the Beatles were lucky—as they were so often in the ‘60s. In any case, they ended up with a brilliant secretary who adored them and ran their fan club before and after the crazy global phenomena called Beatlemania.
Now, more than 50 years after a teenaged Liverpudlian named Freda was brought to hear a local band called the Beatles at the Cavern Club, their reticent former secretary has finally told her story to documentarian Ryan White.
Freda’s tale is a Zoomer’s dream. She was there when they first became successful and was the Beatles’ pal—good ol’ Freda—as they changed from musically gifted local lads to superstars. Throughout the Sixties and into the Seventies (after they’d already broken up), Freda continued to be part of their lives, especially because she became the surrogate friend and daughter to their families (especially the Starkey’s).
Mixing a delicious sampling of Beatles concerts and Sixties footage showing the hysteria surrounding the group with contemporary interviews with former Beatle press agent Tony Barrow and members of the Merseyside band The Fourmost, Good Ol’ Freda evokes a period of great joy, exuberance and social, sexual and political change. Once again, Zoomers are allowed to relive the magic of the Beatles, through the presence of Freda Kelly.
The problem with a film like this is obvious: it can only go so far. Freda is clearly a sweet hard working woman, who happened to spend a decade around the Beatles. She was a secretary then and she’s a secretary now. You’d love to have her as a friend but she’s not a compelling subject for a documentary. Good Ol’ Freda is a delight for Zoomers but won’t make a dent with anyone else.