Magical Mystery Tour was The Beatles' third film. Intended to be a 50-minute special to be shown on Boxing Day, it was acted, written, and directed by The Beatles. The plot, where there was one, had Ringo Starr and his aunt Jessie taking a bus tour with Magical Mystery Tours. This, though, wasn't an ordinary bus trip; it was made into a magical one by 'four or five magicians that live away in the sky, beyond the clouds, and cast magic spells'. It doesn't run smoothly as a story, since it includes many surreal sequences, including one at an army barracks and a very confusing race sequence. Yet, this doesn't detract from the movie at all. With the inclusion of such moments as John Lennon shovelling spaghetti onto Jessie's plate in a very bizarre restaurant1 and the song 'I Am The Walrus', the movie was a surreal, unique, unforgettable experience. At the time, however, it was not popular, and when broadcast in black and white on Boxing Day, 1967, it was hated. Paul McCartney responded to this criticism by saying,
I suppose if you look at it from the point of view of good Boxing Day entertainment, we goofed, really.
Yet despite the criticism, the song sequences ('Magical Mystery Tour', 'The Fool On The Hill', 'Flying', 'Blue Jay Way', 'I Am The Walrus', and 'Your Mother Should Know') on it are unforgettable, and for any true Beatles fan, it is a must see and a must own.
In the UK, Magical Mystery Tour was originally released in Britain as a two-disc EP set2with just the six songs that are actually in the film. Whilst in the USA, a full album with 11 tracks had been available. In the mid-'70s, EMI noticed that the American album was the more popular version, and so from then on the American album version has been the one on sale in Britain. However, the artwork accompanying the album keeps the original EP version, and includes only the words to the six songs featured in the film.
The five other songs were 'Hello Goodbye', 'Strawberry Fields Forever', 'Penny Lane', 'Baby You're a Rich Man', and 'All You Need is Love'. 'Strawberry Fields Forever' and 'Penny Lane' were the February, 1967, double A-side single. 'Hello, Goodbye' was another single released in 1967 at the end of November, and it became the Christmas number one for that year. 'All You Need Is Love' was released in 1967 and was Britain's contribution on the first global television link-up. It and 'Baby You're a Rich Man' were the Beatles' summer single of the same year. 'All You Need Is Love' also appeared on the 1969 Yellow Submarine album before being a part of the official Magical Mystery Tour LP when the album version was adopted worldwide.