The Beatles haven't made music in over 40 years, but there has been a steady stream of films and documentaries to give constant reminder of the genius produced by the Fab Four, bringing us back to their joy factory of songs. Those films include Martin Scorsese's incredible doc on George Harrison, a documentary on the making of Cirque du Soleil's "LOVE" and even the idol-infused musical feature film, "Across The Universe." The Beatles machine has been well oiled.

Whereas these selections have been sweeping overviews of an incredible era of music, the latest Beatles doc gets extremely specific. It's about their secretary.

Freda Kelly was said to be "the luckiest girl in the world" during the most deafening period of Beatlemania, but it's hard to gauge whether she agreed. Still working the secretary beat today, the shy, unassuming Freda finally allowed cameras into her life to make this film. Her intention was to tell her mostly unknown tale of working for the Beatles during the entire span of their career.

"Good Ol' Freda" starts strong with absolutely stunning footage of the group at work with drummer Pete Best, playing their mythic concerts at Liverpool's Cavern Club. Here we see the 17-year-old Freda standing in the alcoves along with every other girl in the bleak English town, absolutely entranced with the act. She soon had a front seat for the dizzy ride ahead.

Her commitment to solid clerical work, the Beatles fan club and a good relationship with manager Brian Epstein made her the perfect fit to be the band's secretary. She was in the right place at the right time, was willing to learn and in one interview alluded to a possible romantic relationship with one of the Beatles themselves. The band even mentioned "Good Ol' Freda" on one of their fan club recordings.

Freda was there for the British Invasion and the death of Brian Epstein. She saw the women and wives of the Beatles come and go. She witnessed the group play a double bill with Little Richard on Liverpool's Empire stage, and she traveled as a member of the Magical Mystery Tour.

Beatles fans will get a huge kick from her insights on the group's parents, the sheer amount of fan mail she endured and her confirmation that Paul McCartney was the one to break up the band. What "Good Ol' Freda" really does is remind us that The Beatles were a business. A group of this magnitude needed an office, and she was on the front lines.

I am not sure that her story warrants a full length doc. It doesn't take long for the footage and novelty of her position to wear off. It is a stone that may have never been turned over though, and for that reason alone it's a must for serious fans.


Sat, April 27, 9 p.m. Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

Sun, April 28, 1 p.m. TIFF Bell Lightbox 1

Sat, May 4, 8:45 p.m. The Regent

Photos courtesy of Robert Whitaker on behalf of LIFE Books

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categories Movies