The Quiet Beatle

Overlooked somewhat in the praise for Lenno/McCartney compositions for the Beatles, George Harrison had a tough time placing strong songs on their final recordings.  And yet his work stands with the great duo compositions from the band.

Harrison from a couple of different era discusses those days with the kind of detail he may have never shared publically before.

“George Harrison: Living in the Material World” (HBO, 9 p.m.) has a little family control on ti, since ti was Olivia Harrison who agreed to release the miles of footage of Harrison in private repose over the years.

Like “Bob Dylan: No Direction Home,” this is a rock biography that is thorough and awe-inspiring. Built on a number of interviews, along with footage even diehard Beatle fans hadn’t seen previously, it’s a must for the moptop fans.

But what exactly was the involvement of Martin Scorsese?

Increasingly it seems like he was brought in at the last minute, after all the film had been shot and the interviews concluded. Scorsese may play around with the order of the storytelling or its shape, but it seems that his involvement is only a last minute mutualpbeneficial move. Scorsese can keep his rock bio credit, while PBS benefits from his participation.

Others who help tell the tale include Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Martin, Ravi Shankar and two friends from the Hamburg days, Claus Voormann, who did some Beatles cover designs, and the striking influential fashion influence, Astrid Kirchherr, whose looks were quite devastating back then but is now a prim elderly lady.

The demarcation between aprt one and part two seems as arbitrary as a film breaking at that point. But overall, it’s a good portrait of the musician despite its lapses, which include leaving out specifics of his death, or noting properly how big his solo comeback was in the 80s.

The concluding half runs Thursday on HBO.

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