Good Ol’ Freda brought out my inner fan girl. As an avid lover and listener of The Beatles, I can’t help but imagine what it would be like to be a part of their rise to international fame. This is the story that Freda Kelly describes as she recounts her job as The Beatles’ secretary, telling her story for the first time in 50 years.
Kelly humbly begins the film asking the question, “Who would want to hear the secretary’s story?” Kelly charmed me right away with her gentle demeanor and endearing English accent. The film flows through the years of 1961 to 1972 as Kelly reminisces about seeing The Beatles for the first time to answering the thousand of fan mail letters she received everyday.
The film does not expose any exciting or revealing information, but is strung along through Kelly’s voiceover, recounting historical events while providing her own backstage view. As Kelly relays her story, archival photos and footage make there way across the screen.
Demonstrating a simple structure, the film goes through Beatles’ history year by year intertwining Beatles music, archival footage and talking heads of Kelly in the present. I enjoyed the black and white photos as they seemed to create a flipbook that placed me back in time. The filmmakers’ effort can be seen as much of the pictures directly correlated to the story being told.
I also thought it was effective to place Kelly in some of the landmarks of her past. For example, as Kelly recounts her daily visits to see Ringo’s mother for tea, Kelly walked down the street of the former residence. While Good Ol’ Freda takes a laidback approach to an expository documentary, I found it interesting to watch and even choked up as Beatlemania came to a close.
Kelly’s spirit and loyalty shine throughout the documentary and it was truly wonderful to learn about her life. Kelly agreed to participate in the documentary after all these years as a tribute to her children. After her son Timothy passed away without learning of her past, Kelly utilized this documentary as a way to share her contribution to music and culture with her grandson. She explains, “I would like him to be proud of me and see how exciting my life was in the 60s and the fun I had.” And I’m sure he will be.