Good Ol' Freda

September 8th, 2013

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Good Ol' Freda

A documentary in which Freda Kelly looks back at her career as lifelong secretary for The Beatles.

Release Year: 2013

Rating: 7.7/10 (88 voted)

Director: Ryan White

'Good Ol' Freda' tells the story of Freda Kelly, a shy Liverpudlian teenager asked to work for a young local band hoping to make it big: the Beatles. As the Beatles' fame multiplies, Freda bears witness to music and cultural history but never exploits her insider access. Their loyal secretary from beginning to end, Freda finally tells her tales for the first time in 50 years.

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User Review


Rating: 9/10

The moment that I saw Good Ol' Freda listed in the Hot Docs program, without reading the description, I knew exactly who this doc was about. That's good ol' Freda Kelly, once called the luckiest girl in the world by newspapers and teen rags, because she was the secretary to a little band called The Beatles. The title comes from the 1963 Christmas message recorded by the Fab Four for their fan club, which Kelly also ran, in which they specifically mention "good ol' Freda." Early in the film, Kelly looks at the camera and says, "Who wants to hear the secretary's story?"

The answer of course is – We do, we do! All these years later, the world is still hungry for any piece of the story of The Beatles that has been left untold. And Freda Kelly is our last best hope. She has remained mum for years – she's never sold her story; rarely gives interviews; didn't cash in the treasure trove of Beatles memorabilia in her attic, instead passing it directly to fans or donating to charity. Good Ol' Freda is less a tale of The Beatles and more a tale of one woman's – a girl's actually, being only 17 when she was hired – fierce loyalty and protector of a trust given her by the four most famous men in the world.

Freda Kelly was a nice Liverpudlian girl who found herself in extraordinary circumstances. She coped with those circumstances with more grace than one can imagine and has continued to do so for years. Kelly took her job very seriously, but… she was a fan first and foremost, and she still counts herself as one today. Turns out, that "luckiest girl in the world" appellation was exactly how she felt – and still does. Kelly notes that she agreed to do this doc, with some reservation, because she wants her grandson to know that she did some fun and cool stuff in the '60s. Good Ol' Freda will definitely make that possible.

After the Sunday afternoon screening at TIFF Bell Lightbox, director Ryan White and producer Kathy McCabe came out on stage. The crowd applauded. The Freda Kelly came up. The audience – a packed house – leapt to its feet for a lusty round of ovation. That's the kind of affection Freda Kelly inspires and her story as told in Good Ol' Freda inspires. This doc is a must see, now at Hot Docs or anywhere else you can catch it.

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