The Completely Bonkers Story of the Beatles' 'Lord of the Rings' Movie That Never Was
The Beatles’ second movie Help! turned 50 on Tuesday. While as an adult, I recognize A Hard Days Night as the vastly superior movie, as a kid, I was obsessed with Help! If you’ve never seen it, do. Follow the Beatles on a caper around the globe following Ringo’s discovery of a giant ugly ring and the band’s subsequent harassment at the hands of a weird religious cult. The film’s original title was Eight Arms to Hold You and it is bonkers.
Though that was not the most crazy project the Beatles were ever involved with. You may have heard the long-fabled rumors of a Tolkein-made Beatles vehicle that never materialized. Legend has it United Artists acquired the rights to Lord of the Rings in 1969, and the Fab Four were set on starring in the adaptation.
At one point, the Beatles asked Stanley Kubrick to direct them in �The Lord of the Rings.� John, Paul, George and Ringo would respectively play Gollum, Frodo, Gandalf and Sam. But J.R.R. Tolkien turned them down. It�s not clear whether Tolkien just realized how unsuited the four would be to a fantasy epic, or whether he had a more personal objection to their noisy practicing. In a letter, he wrote: �In a house three doors away dwells a member of a group of young men who are evidently aiming to turn themselves into a Beatle Group. On days when it falls to his turn to have a practice session the noise is indescribable.Okay, first of all, this is the best Get Off My Lawn story I’ve maybe ever heard. Of course Tolkein hated all those mop-topped Beatles boys. Second, Tolkien turned them down? Does this mean Kubrick was into the offer? My god, that would have been amazing. Also (or possibly alternatively?), according to the book Tales From Development Hell, the movie would have been animated.
But third, and definitely most important here, WHAT IS THIS CASTING? I understand wanting to play against type and not cast John as Frodo and Paul as Sam, AS ANY SANE PERSON WOULD DO. And honestly, George would have been a perfect Gandalf, with a sitar instead of a staff. But John as Gollum?
RINGO STARR WAS OBVIOUSLY BORN TO PLAY GOLLUM. Look at this face!
I mean, seriously.