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‘Good Ol’ Freda’: A secretary bonds with the Beatles

George HarrisFredKelly.

George Harrison and Freda Kelly.

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Magnolia Pictures presents a documentary directed by Ryan White. Running time: 86 minutes. Rated PG (for some thematic material and smoking). Opens Friday at the Music Box Theatre.

Updated: October 21, 2013 6:13AM

At an office pool where Freda Kelly worked in the early 1960s, the secretaries hung photos of Pat Boone and Elvis Presley. On Freda’s desk was a small picture of an unknown group that she had befriended at a nightclub called the Cavern. The group was the Beatles.

Kelly opens up for the cameras in “Good Ol’ Freda” as she reminisces about her life as the fan-club secretary for the band from Liverpool that changed our culture forever. A pleasant, good-natured woman, Freda worked for 11 years with the Beatles, until they broke up.

Although the filmmakers apparently wanted to focus on the Beatles, the movie’s strongest moments are about Freda herself. At 17, she was hired by the group’s manager, Brian Epstein, as his secretary, and the job expanded into her running the fan club.

At times, she and her staff would handle 2,000 to 3,000 letters a day. How her girl-next-door demeanor (which she retains) endeared her not only to the Beatles but also to close family such as Ringo’s mother and George’s parents is among the best parts of the movie.

Her anecdotes are priceless, but Freda’s reticence to give out the real dirt — on the breakup and the influence of the women on the Beatles’ lives — and a shortage of revelations from her own life leave us wanting a little bit more. But an afternoon with Freda? Well, we love her, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Scripps Howard News Service

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