Good Ole’ Freda – 4 stars
This is a charming documentary about the first fan club president of The Beatles – Freda Kelly – who started out in a typing pool, sneaking off work to see the band at The Cavern Club, and worked her way in to become the assistant to Beatles manager Brian Epstein. Kelly provides nothing really new about “the lads” (Paul was always nice, John could be a handful), but her remembrances are touching and frankly, impressive. She took her job as correspondent for the band very seriously, and while in their employ, authored thousands of responses to fan mail, even going so far as to fire an employee for sending non-Beatle hair to a fan who had requested a strand. She even used her home address as the fan club address for a time, until her father complained that he couldn’t find his utility bills in the sacks of mail that arrived every day.
Kelly worked faithfully for the group until its demise, and then just moved on with her life. As the documentarian finds her now, she is a working secretary. The surviving Beatles and the estates of John and George must have given the filmmakers rights to the music, because Beatles tunes litter the film, and Ringo even gives a video goodbye to Freda during the credits. I will say, however, there’s a bit of a bad taste at the end. Freda is presented as a true gem, someone who tended to the band’s needs, kept their confidences, never once traded in on their fame for her own aggrandizement, and even became a companion to many of their parents. I don’t expect the Beatles to shower attention on all of the “little people” who helped their rise, but Freda seems a cut above, and so . . . what the fu**, Paul!