‘Good Ol’ Freda’ offers humanizing tidbits from the Beatles’ secretary

Beatles secretary Freda Kelly is caught between Ringo Starr and George Harrison. Credit: Freda Kelly
Beatles secretary Freda Kelly is caught between Ringo Starr and George Harrison.
Credit: Freda Kelly

‘Good Ol’ Freda’
Director: Ryan White
Genre: Documentary
3 (out of 5) Globes

Right now — as in, within the last few weeks — the trend in documentaries about famous people is to find the normal, even boringly so, person beneath the myth. “Our Nixon” threads up unseen footage of Tricky Dick looking and sounding dull (except when he talks “All in the Family”). “Salinger” argues that J.D. Salinger was less of a mad recluse than he let on (but also with a thing for teen girls.) “Good Ol’ Freda” adds to the towering pile of Beatles-related cinema the revelations of one Freda Kelly, who served as the band’s fan club secretary from 1963 to 1972 (or about two years after their breakup). Though she gravitated toward them because she was just another fan, she knew the real them, and the real them was, like most, much more mundane than the legend.

Kelly herself comes off as just a regular person. She’s modest and friendly, chuckling lightly as she digs deep into reminiscences and monstrously famous people observed first-hand. Her reluctance to not dish for four decades, to not profit over her storied position, seems genuinely rooted in the desire for a normal life. It’s fitting with the laidback vibe that not everything she says — or almost none of it — is earth-quaking. There’s nothing on the level of (again) “Salinger,” which threatens to overhaul how we view cultural icons.

It does, however, offer a more human view of everyone, along with allowing us to see how major events were felt as they happened. There’s an immediacy to Kelly’s recollections, where major history just feels like the everyday. The first wave of Beatles music may have rocked the world, but it still felt only marginally superior to much of the era’s music. She recalls the thrill of being a fellow Liverpudlian and seeing “Love Me Do” get to No. 12, not No. 1.

She has little dirt, especially after she elected to stay in Liverpool as they relocated to London, which allowed for less contact than a Beatlemaniac would desire. The funniest story is how she accidentally put her family home as the fan club’s address, which soon swelled with ecstatic letters. “Good Ol’ Freda” doesn’t crack the 90-minute mark, and yet it still feels a bit too short, particularly as she has little to reveal about their later, more experimental and dysfunctional years. That’s fine: Any details will do, especially ones that make the untouchable seem approachable.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

How to donate during the blood drive at…

The Metro-North Railroad and New York Blood Center are hosting a blood drive at Grand Central Terminal Thursday.

Local

Bloomberg launches $50 million anti-gun violence effort

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg plans to spend $50 million on a grassroots anti-gun violence network to challenge the National Rifle Association.

Local

East Village woman fights off rape attempt from…

An East Village woman fought off an attempted rapist that she woke to find standing on her bed over the weekend, police said.

International

Nearly 300 missing after South Korean ferry capsizes

Almost 300 people were missing after a ferry capsized off South Korea Wednesday, in what could be the country's biggest maritime disaster in over 20 years.

Television

Jim Rash talks 'The Writer's Room' and amazing…

For Jim Rash, as the fifth season of "Community" comes to a close, the second season of "The Writer's Room" begins.

Books

Poems from prison: 'How to Survive a Bullet…

Celebrate National Poetry Month with, "'How to Survive a Bullet to the Heart."

Movies

Review: 'Heaven is for Real' tries to be…

The mega-bestseller "Heaven is for Real" becomes a movie that tries to portray wrestling with faith — or at least it tries to try.

The Word

Jenny McCarthy and Donnie Wahlberg are engaged

If Donnie Wahlberg wants to get vaccinated against anything, he should do it soon: he and Jenny McCarthy are engaged, she just announced on "The View."

NHL

Islanders back to rebuilding mode after disappointing season

One season after qualifying for the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 2006-07, the Islanders finished 2013-14 with a 34-37-11 record.

NFL

Jets confident despite Chris Johnson leaving with no…

Jets fans clamored for a playmaker on offense all offseason. It looked like they were going to land that player on Tuesday when Chris Johnson…

NBA

Knicks, Nets rivalry never materialized despite national attention

When the NBA schedule was released, the league anticipated an intense rivalry between the Nets and Knicks with all four games slated for national TV.

NBA

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could…

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could the Mavericks surprise?

Home

Steal home decorating tips from stylist and creator…

We hit her up for some space-conscious, budget-friendly design tips.

Wellbeing

Could a facelift give you the edge at…

It's not just women lining up for procedures.

Home

How to plant a garden in the city

Small on space but big on gardening? You can still have that welcoming oasis of fresh air with an urban garden. Peter Smith, owner of…

Style

Personalize your massage at a private practice

CityTouch customizes spa treatments to meet client's needs.