Richard Lester

Richard Lester, center, with the Beatles during the filming of "Help!" in the Bahamas. (Bruce A. Karsh/Subafilms)

The Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. announced Saturday afternoon that director Richard Lester, who helmed the influential classic Beatles' film musicals, 1964's "A Hard Day's Night" and 1965's "Help!," is the recipient of the organization's career achievement honor.

The honor will be presented at the L.A. Film Critics Assn. awards ceremony Jan. 11 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Century City. Previous honorees include directors Paul Mazursky and Frederick Wiseman and actors Doris Day and Jean-Paul Belmondo.

A child prodigy, the 81-year-old Lester began studying at the University of Pennsylvania at the age of 15. He started working in TV about 1950 and moved to London in 1953, where he worked as a director in indie TV.

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His 1960 short "The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film," which he made with "Goon Show" stars Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan earned an Oscar nomination.  The Beatles loved the Goons and the short film, and he proved to be a perfect fit for the group's first film,  "A  Hard Day's Night."

Critic Andrew Sarris described "A Hard Day's Night" as the "Citizen Kane" of  "juke box musicals," and L.A. Film Critics Assn. President Stephen Farber said Lester's films of the 1960s and '70s were "very influential."

His innovative, stylistic visual style and editing was such an influence on music video directors that MTV gave him an award in 1984 that honored him as the "father of the music videos."

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Among Lester's other films are 1965's "The Knack"; 1966's "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum"; 1968's "Petulia," 1973's "The Three Musketeers'"; and 1974's "The Four Musketeers; 1980's "Superman II;" and 1983's "Superman III." His last film was the Paul McCartney 1991 concert film "Get Back."

The 1999 book "Getting Away With It," features interviews with Lester conducted by director Steven Soderbergh.

The critics group also announced that the organization will be revealing the winners of its 2013 film awards on Dec. 8

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