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Movie Review: Good Ol’ Freda

September 20, 2013

Good Ol' Freda PosterGood Ol’ Freda – A KinoSmith Release

Release Date: September 20th, 2013 @ Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

Rated STC

Running time: 86 minutes

Ryan White (dir.)

Jessica Lawson (writer)

Ryan White (writer)

Paul Koch (music)

Freda Kelly as Herself

George Harrison as Himself (archive footage)

John Lennon as Himself (archive footage)

Paul McCartney as Himself (archive footage)

Ringo Starr as Himself (archive footage)

Good Ol' Freda

©KinoSmith.  All Rights Reserved.

Freda Kelly remembers her time with The Beatles in Good Ol’ Freda.

Our reviews below:


Good Ol’ Freda Review By John C.

***1/2 (out of 4)

Back in 1962, 17-year -old Freda Kelly was hired by Brian Epstein to be the secretary and head of the official fan club for a small Liverpool band called The Beatles.  Directed by Ryan White, Good Ol’ Freda finally gives this remarkably humble woman an opportunity to tell her own story, from her start as a quiet fan living the dream, to the special relationships she had with the Fab Four and the bittersweet breakup of the band.  As a longtime Beatles fan, I really enjoyed hearing the charming Freda tell her wonderful and ultimately touching story.

Among the many standouts of this year’s Hot Docs, the very entertaining documentary does a nice job of recreating the feeling of Beatlemania, showing the people behind the iconic personas of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.  With an excellent soundtrack and a barrage of great stories, Good Ol’ Freda is an invaluable document of a lesser known chapter from The Beatles history, that is highly recommended to all fans of the band.


Good Ol’ Freda Review by Erin V.

***1/2 (out of 4)

Good Ol’ Freda is a charming documentary about Freda Kelly – the secretary to The Beatles.  Freda first met The Beatles when they were playing at The Cavern, a local Liverpool music club.  At the time, she was working as a secretary at another place and would go listen to them when on her break.  Over time she got to know them a bit, and by the time they became big, she was invited to be their secretary – at the age of 17.

Almost like a sister to them, she stayed their secretary throughout their entire career as The Beatles, answering their fan mail, running their fan club, and becoming close friends with them and their families.  After the whole thing got a little less crazy, Freda settled down into a normal life, had a family, and kept most of her previous life to herself.  But in the documentary, she decides to finally tell her story – and she does so in a loving manner remembering her experiences and friends from those days.

Very humble and friendly, Freda makes the documentary seem very open and the whole thing becomes a delight to watch.  Combining old footage and pictures with her telling the story works very well.  Fans of The Beatles have to check this one out.


Good Ol’ Freda Review by Nicole

***1/2 (out of 4)

Good Ol’ Freda tells the little known story of Freda Kelly, secretary to The Beatles.  Freda tells the story herself, recalling that as a 16-year-old girl, she discovered the band before they became famous.  As they grew in popularity, her work as secretary became more challenging, as fans wanted personal responses.  As a young Beatles fan herself, Freda understood the hype.

Being a teenager, she had a crush on whichever Beatle payed her the most attention that day.  When asked if she ever dated any of them, the modest Freda will not answer.  This was all concerning to her father who, as a single dad whose wife died when Freda was a baby, was very protective.  However, The Beatles families became like second families to her.  Ringo Starr’s mother even became like a mom to Freda.  These friendships lasted for a very long time.

What makes Good Ol’ Freda especially personal is that the story is told as if Freda is simply sharing her story.  Freda seems like that.  She is sweet, honest, modest and always sees the good in people.  That was one of the reasons why she was able to work with The Beatles troubled manager, Brian Espstein, whose mood swings reflected his life as a closeted gay man in a time when diversity was not so widely accepted.  On that note, The Beatles songs and attitude towards life reflected the civil rights movement, a revolution that is still going on today.

Good Ol’ Freda will certainly appeal to people who know The Beatles history.  But even those who were previously unaware won’t forget it now, since Freda tells it in such a personal, yet respectful way.  That’s good ol’ Freda for you.  Be sure to stay through the end credits, for a nice closing remark by Ringo Starr.


Good Ol’ Freda Review by Maureen

***1/2 (out of 4)

For ten years, Freda Kelly was the envy of teen girls around the world.  Here was this fellow teenager and Beatles fan who had round the clock, up close and personal access to everybody’s favourite four lads from Liverpool – John, Paul, George and Ringo.  As The Beatles fan club secretary, Freda had the one job other girls dreamed of.

Director Ryan White’s charming documentary Good Ol’ Freda allows Freda Kelly to share in her own words what it was like to spend time watching The Beatles start out as local performers at The Cavern, with the odd fan letter arriving requesting a photo or lock of hair, to the overwhelmingly popular icons that needed a team of helpers to answer the thousands of cards and letters that arrived daily.

Now a grandmother, the delightfully humble Freda trades anecdotes and personal thoughts with a wonderful backdrop of archival black and white photos and film footage.  The result is an open and honest glimpse into The Beatles early years.  Good Ol’ Freda is a must see documentary for Beatles fans, and the end credits message by Ringo Starr is an added bonus.


Good Ol’ Freda Review by Tony

***1/2 (out of 4)

Good Ol’ Freda is Freda Kelly, sharing her memories as secretary of The Beatles for the first time in this film. In 1962, the teenage office worker hung out at a Liverpool club called The Cavern where the group appeared regularly. Having run the Beatles fan club out of her own home until the correspondence got out of hand, Freda was hired as their secretary by manager Brian Epstein. She got on well with all the lads and their families, especially (having lost her own mother in infancy) Ringo’s mother, who treated her as the daughter she never had. By 1974, after the group had been apart for several years, Freda shut the fan club down to devote herself to her own family.

Now in her mid-sixties, Freda is charming and gracious as she recounts the period, largely illustrated with photographs and accompanied by tunes from the early Beatles and other contemporary artists, with brief comments from others including her own daughter. Freda’s integrity and discretion are impressive. As a fan herself, she was generous with even the most quirky requests. For example, though the group’s barber thought she was “mental” she always had bits of hair for anyone who asked for them. Still living modestly as a secretary to this day, she never profited herself, having given away most of her own memorabilia after 1974 save for a few boxes of stuff in her attic.

Aside from its historic and nostalgic value, I found Good Ol’ Freda very touching. Freda’s enviable relationship with the Beatles was well deserved and even though she never got rich, unlike the long list of people no longer with us she is still around. As a fitting final touch, a sweet shout out from Ringo Starr over the closing credits shows that her loyalty to the group was always appreciated.


Consensus: Finally giving The Beatles charming secretary Freda Kelly a chance to tell her own story, Good Ol’ Freda is an entertaining and touchingly nostalgic documentary that is highly recommended, especially for fans of the band.  ***1/2 (Out of 4)

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