At 17, Freda Kelly was plucked from a typing pool to serve
as secretary for what would become the biggest band in the world.
Director Ryan White’s documentary Good Ol’ Freda is a
charming portrait of the Beatles’ girl Friday, who worked for the band
for 11 years and witnessed their pre-Ringo beginnings and post-Brian
Epstein end. The late “Eppy” looms large here, an occasionally rash but
sharp manager who saw more than one good thing at the Cavern Club: Freda
was a fan but not a fanatic, and a fiercely loyal, discreet one at
that. Accordingly, she waited a half-century to tell her story, and even
now, viewers won’t get any salacious details of life with “the Beatles
Organization.” They will, however, be treated to choice morsels about
her close relationships with band members and their families—one talking
head describes her as the Beatles’ sister, noting her devotion to
responding to fans’ bizarre requests and her abiding respect for “the
word ‘privacy.’” When Freda closed her fan club newsletter column with
“Yours faithfully,” she meant it, to both screaming girl and rock star
alike. Good Ol’ Freda is a vibrant scrapbook of pop culture,
pumped up by original Fab Four recordings, archival materials and
interviews with band personnel, Beatles kin and the vivacious Freda
herself—far more than “just a secretary” but a beloved friend.
Critic’s Grade: B+
SEE IT: Good Ol’ Freda opens Friday at Living Room Theaters.