A Beatle in Benton

In early Autumn 1963, pre-Fab Four Beatle George Harrison, age 18, visited his eldest sister in the small town of Benton, IL. Little did the townsfolk know they were being befriended and regaled by a musician whose talent would change the world, and many of their own lives.

(2002/102 mins) d. Rick Unsbee

Benton, IL is a small mining town in south-central part of the state. It is rural and sleepy and always has been. But by sheer serendipity, it holds the tiny distinction as the first city to host one of the Beatles, namely George Harrison, prior to his exploding onto the stage and headlines less than six months later with The Beatles historic appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964.  He and his brother Peter visited Benton for a two week holiday with their elder sister Irene, whose husband worked there as a mining engineer. Forty years later, the home was scheduled for demolition. This poignant little film documents how the townsfolk came together to recognize its unique heritage, and strove to save it. As such it is a testament to both passion and ingenuity in small town America. Irene Harrison-Caldwell was drafted to lead the charge. But the ordinary citizens of Benton did the heavy lifting, literally, and lovingly renovated the home and converted it into a B & B. This film is thus a success story, and yet another tale that demonstrates how The Beatles continue to touch people profoundly