Beatles fans will recognize the phrase “Good ol’ Freda” from the very first Beatles Christmas fan club record, when the group shouts out her name as they thank her for her work for the band’s fan club. Readers of “The Beatles Book” magazine read her monthly columns, and sharp-eyed viewers would have caught sight of her as one of the bus passengers in “Magical Mystery Tour.”
In this delightful documentary of the same name (released by Magnolia Home Entertainment), Freda Kelly opens up, to a degree, about what it was like having a job that made her the envy of Beatles fans around the world. A lunchtime visit to Liverpool club the Cavern in the early ‘60s led to Kelly working for Beatles manager Brian Epstein, where she made herself so indispensable, when Epstein and his bands relocated to London, Kelly was given a job holding down the fort in Liverpool when she was unable to accompany them.
There’s a trace of bitterness when Kelly’s daughter states she doesn’t feel her mother got her due (or sufficient financial compensation) for her role in the Beatles’ story, but Kelly herself looks back with fondness and equanimity. She gave away most of her memorabilia, but notes that it went to true fans, and her loyalty is evident when she declines to reveal whether or not she ever went out with one of her employers.
It’s a rare look at Beatlemania from the inside, from someone who, remarkably, doesn’t have an agenda. The story is further fleshed out in the bonus features, including a commentary track.