This week on the 4th of July #askNat I respond to a message sent in all the way from Brazil back in April. It comes from Anisio Brandao Machado Jr. who says:
I have two curiosities about the end of the movie Help! Why does it indicate at the end credits that the movie was dedicated to Singer? Is it the sewing machine company or some kind of joke? Finally, I would like to know which song we hear at the end of the movie. Is it a classical song? Thank you very much.
Anisio is referring to the dedication that starts off the closing credits which reads:
|This film is respectfully dedicated to the memory of Mr. Elias Howe, who, in 1846, invented the sewing machine.|
The truth of the matter is that The Beatles likely had nothing to do with the dedication which was in fact, a joke. Aside from writing and recording the music and appearing in the movie as themselves, The Beatles were not closely involved with anything else and the dedication was most likely the idea of the plot developers Charles Wood and the late Marc Behm.
Some literature about the movie that came out at the time (1965) suggested that the dedication may have been due to the purported dream that Elias Howe had that inspired his invention of the sewing machine. In his dream he was surrounded by unfriendly natives who were pointing spears at him, when he noticed the spears had holes in their tips (like the eye of a sewing machine needle). The idea of Elias’ dream was used with Ringo Starr in the plot of Help!, where he is also surrounded by natives and about to be sacrificed. It isn’t clear whether this correlation really influenced the sacrifice scene or was, in fact, the actual reason for the dedication. Admittedly this is a bit of a stretch and it may have just be an attempt at more of the same random nonsensical humor that is everywhere else in the movie.
There were actually other sewing machines prior to Elias Howe’s, however he is credited as the first to actually secure a patent in the United States for a machine with a lock-stitch design and he had made significant refinements to earlier substandard versions. Despite how it reads in the dedication, he invented the machine in 1845 and was awarded the patent in September of the following year. Elias won considerable royalties by using his patent to take Issac Singer (founder of the Singer sewing machine company) to court. Singer had manufactured a facsimile of his machine with colleague Walter Hunt and was selling the invention as if it was his own. There is no dedication in the movie to Singer.
The music playing during the closing credits to Help! is the “Overture of The Barber of Seville” composed by Gioachino Rossini in the early 19th century and performed by the George Martin Orchestra. Of course, The Beatles and others in the cast are singing, laughing, commenting and carrying on along with the music. Here is the audio clip for your review.
George Martin Orchestra - The Barber Of Seville
The other score music included some original compositions by Ken Thorne (“In The Tyrol,” “The Bitter End,” “The Chase”), and other classical music (“James Bond” styled intro to “Help!”), along with orchestrated Beatles tunes (“A Hard Day’s Night,” “From Me To You,” “You Can’t Do That”), often with an Indian flavor in keeping with the plot of the film. Most of the score music was included on the North American Help! soundtrack LP (excluding “Overture of The Barber of Seville”) but was not on the British Help! LP which contained additional Beatles music that appeared on different albums across the Atlantic.
Extra info: Elias Howe also received a patent in 1851 for the “zipper.” With the success of his sewing machine, he never bothered to seriously market it though – a missed opportunity indeed!
Thanks for a good question Anisio and to everyone else for reading. Anyone who has anything to add can do so in the comments section below.
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Here are some Amazon links to read more on, or purchase music related to this post:
1) Help! – 2007 restoration of original 1965 film with lots of bonus features on second disc.
2) The Capitol Albums Vol. 2 (Brick) – 4-CD box set of 2006 remasterng of 4 Capitol Beatles LPs from 1965 including the Help! Soundtrack.
3) Help! – 2009 CD remaster of original stereo 1965 U.K.-issued LP.