The Beatles psychedelic middle period just fascinated me a child. If I was blown away by "Strawberry Fields" than what was I to make of "I am the Walrus" or even Paul's spritely and enigmatic reply "Hello Good-bye"? For me this album was a continuation of "Sgt. Pepper". The inclusion of "Strawberry Fields/Penny Lane" and other recent singles was a bonus and rounded out the album as a whole.
The film "Magical Mystery Tour" was more problematic. It was basically an idea that Paul McCartney had for an unscripted film. Participants were given brief instructions and suggestions, but most of what ended up in the film is improvisational. The plot, if you can call it that centers around Ringo and his fictional recently widowed Aunt Jessie. To lift her spirits, Ringo take her on a day long bus tour of the English countryside. The Beatles themselves play at being wizards controlling the events and the strange things that happen to the passengers on the bus. It's all very surrealistic. Musical number are interspersed, but without adding any real coherence to the overall story.
My favorite musical moment in the film is actually not a Beatle song. At one point in the proceedings the Beatles enter a club where the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band is playing a song that sounds like a strange combination of Elvis Presley and Doo Wop called "Death Cab for Cutie".
The film aired in Britain on Boxing Day in 1967 in black and white. There were only 200,000 color TV's in England at the time. It aired twice in NYC at the Filmore East in 1968 and got limited general release in 1974. I believe that I saw a rather poor quality print of the film at a mid-night showing. This was the Beatles' first official flop. The critics tore it to pieces. So much so in fact that McCartney felt compelled to apologize to the general public. The movie aired again in 1987 on American Television, and was finally released on DVD and Blu-ray in 2012, where it reached number one on the Billboard chart.
The album is a different story. Released in Britain as a double EP that included only the 6 new songs featured in the film. Capital Records in America released it is a full album much to the Beatles dismay. Both came with a gatefold cover that included a 28 page booklet telling the story of Magical Mystery Tour in drawings and stills from the film. The album features the Beatles' one and only instrumental "Flying" and the hauntingly evocative George Harrison song "Blue Jay Way" which Harrison had composed at a house he was renting in the Hollywood Hills.