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Non-Review Review: Good Ol’ Freda

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2014.

Freda Kelly was secretary to The Beatles, and the head of the official Beatles fan club. She managed letters and schedules and magazines and wages and all these different aspects of the lives of John, Paul, Ringo and George. However, she remains something of a peripheral figure in the grand tapestry of Beatles lore. According to most of the commentators in Good Ol’ Freda, there’s a very simple reason for this.

“My mother never played the fame game,” her daughter notes. Freda never published a tell-all book. She never betrayed confidence. Indeed, one of the stories in Good Ol’ Freda has her firing two assistants for one’s attempt to pass off the hair of a sibling for the hair of a Beatle. Integrity was very much the watchword of Freda Kelly, and it’s something that comes across in the documentary, as Freda rather pointedly refuses to be drawn on more personal or intimate questions.

As a result, there’s very little information here that won’t be familiar to fans of the Fab Four. There are some nice insights and an occasionally endearing anecdote – poor Ringo and his nine fan letters! – but Good Ol’ Freda never really pries too deeply into lives Freda managed for a decade at the peak of their popularity. Instead, Good Ol’ Freda works best as a character study of its subject, a glimpse of a woman who was caught up in a maelstrom and walked out almost completely unaffected.

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