Denis O’Dell obituary

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Film producer and ‘fixer’ behind Beatles films including A Hard Day’s Night and Magical Mystery Tour

Working in the film industry, Denis O’Dell, who has died aged 98, was a fixer, usually credited as an associate producer or assistant director and ensuring that everything was in place to make the film within budgetary constraints. He did not mind that others took the glory that he had made possible. Best known for his association with the Beatles, he worked on their first film, A Hard Day’s Night (1964), and was the producer on their television film Magical Mystery Tour (1967).

When the film company United Artists asked him to work with the director Richard Lester on A Hard Day’s Night, initially O’Dell was not keen. “I didn’t want to make a pop film as usually they are just a vehicle for making money,” he recalled. “Bud Ornstein told me: ‘These guys won’t last and we want to do it as cheaply and quickly as possible.’ I said I wasn’t interested, but my kids said: ‘Are you serious?’ I immediately took to Richard Lester as he liked taking chances: we shot moving scenes on a train rather than use back projection.”

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