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.