Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Ealing Studios Comedy Collection |
The Maggie / A Run for Your Money / Titfield Thunderbolt / Whisky Galore! / Passport to Pimlico
Actors: Stanley Holloway, George Relph, Basil Radford, Joan Greenwood, Betty Warren
Directors: Alexander Mackendrick, Charles Crichton, Charles Frend, Henry Cornelius
Genres: Classics, Comedy
This exclusive collection brings together five of Ealing Studios' greatest comedies, starring such beloved legends as Alec Guinness, Stanley Holloway, Hugh Griffith, Margaret Rutherford and more. Each classic film in the ... more »
Similarly Requested DVDs
The Crown Jewels of Comedy
David Baldwin | Philadelphia,PA USA | 04/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Though by my account there is only one unqualified homerun in this collection("Whisky Galore"), the sum of this set's parts are a very satisfying whole. Not only is this British comedy at it's best but this collection is a mirror of the social history of the island nation( rationing, intrusive government buracracy, loss of personal freedoms) post World War II and serves to vent the frustrations of the British citizens. Anchor Bay, this collection's distributor, should be commended for releasing this set. Alas, like alot of Anchor Bay product, there are scant extras, not even trailers. This is disheartening because I understand that TCM recently ran a documentary on Ealing and I'm sure there are enough film scholars that could have contributed commentary on these landmark films. That said, this collection makes a great companion piece to the Alec Guiness and Peter Sellers sets that Anchor Bay released as a good overview of British comedy post-war through the early sixties.
"The Titfield Thunderbolt"-The weak link in the set. Mildly amusing tale of a small hamlet that takes over the local railroad line so that the transport department won't shut it down. Elicits mild chuckles but only seems to come to life when Stanley Holloway as the town's wealthy souse is on screen. Three stars.
"Whisky Galore"-Outright comic masterpiece, period. Residents of dry Scottish island abscond with some of the cargo of a wrecked ship carrying 50,000 bottles of whisky during World War II in the process thwarting efforts by the home defense to seize it. Colorful characters, evocative storytelling, just an outright joy. Five stars.
"A Run For Your Money"-Minor film about two Welsh brothers who win prize money and a trip to London to see an England-Wales rugby match only to be sidetracked by a female con artist and a Welsh harp player. Film is elevated by the likability of the main characters and the picturesque view of London in the early fifties. Alec Guiness is on hand in one of his less showier roles as a newspaper garden reporter whose job it is to escort the lads. Four Stars.
"Passport to Pimlico"-Clever, maybe a wee bit too clever, fable about a London residential estate who uncover a deed that reveals that they are not British subjects but citizens of Burgundy. At first things go swimmingly as the residents unshackle themselves from rationing and other government hindrances, however, they soon find out that as foreigners they will be treated as such. Of course, this means war. Funny, but falls just short of classic status. Four stars.
"The Maggie"-The Ealing equivalent to screwball comedy. Captain of a broken-down "puffer" hoodwinks American airline mogul into hauling his prescious cargo. Once the mogul gets wind of the wily skipper's scheme he attempts to hunt down the ship and reclaim his cargo, unsuccessfully. Consistently funny film that ends kind of melodramatically but is overall a success. Four stars."
A excellent collection of forties and fifties British comedi
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 10/10/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Why is British cinema so lightly regarded? Unlike many such general questions, there is an identifiable reason why British film, especially from the thirties, forties, and fifties, fares so poorly in critical regard, and that reason is French auteur criticism. In the fifties, as Andre Bazin and other Cahiers du Cinema critics were formulating their ideas, it was decided that British film was second rate. David Lean was rejected, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger had not yet been rediscovered, and while Carol Reed's talent was acknowledged, he wasn't considered to belong to what Andrew Sarris would popularize as the Pantheon of great directors. I think this judgment to be utterly unjustified, but space prevents a detailed discussion. I personally have long loved and enjoyed British films and one of the great frustrations of my enthusiasm it has been the enormous difficulty in finding the variety of films that I would have liked. Needless to say, I'm always delighted when sets like this one are released. I had seen all of the film included before except for THE MAGGIE, but I am grateful that all are now readily available.
Ealing Studios were responsible for a substantial number of the finest films of the forties and fifties in Great Britain. Though they made a wide range of films, their comedies, especially a string of great Alec Guinness vehicles, remain among their most beloved. The films here are among their finest non-Guinness films (he appears in A RUN FOR YOUR MONEY, but in a supporting role). Though quite diverse, they share a number of common elements. Just as in the United States technological advances led to more and more filming off studio lots and on location, so in Britain films were being shot outside the studio. As a result we get in these films some of the best visual portraits of specific locales at the time. The films are also remarkable for their superb orchestral scores. Unlike the United States, writing for motion pictures did not bear the stigma in Britain that it did in Hollywood and as a result you see some first rate composers writing directly for the screen.
PASSPORT TO PIMLICO is an almost surreal comedy about residents of a street in Pimlico (a section of London) learning shortly after WW II that their area had actually been ceded to Burgundy centuries earlier. The rest of the film is a struggle between the community, asserting its right to ignore the rationing that following WW II, and London over the ownership of the remarkable treasure that was found along with the Burgundian documents. It is on one level silly, but it is elevated to a superb comedy due to the talents of the cast. Easily the most recognizable actor in the film is Stanley Holloway, who later would win an Oscar as Eliza Doolittle's father in MY FAIR LADY. It also features one of the least successful film appearances of the fine acting duo of Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne (they were much better in films like Hitchcock's THE LADY VANISHES, Carol Reed's NIGHT TRAIN TO MUNICH, and the golf segment of DEAD OF NIGHT).
WHISKY GALORE is easily the finest film in the set, a tale in the Outer Hebrides. Based on a real life ship wreck, it is the story of how whisky-deprived Scots during WW II raid a ship stranded on rocks salvaged a few hundred cases of whisky and the efforts of the over zealous home guard officer to recover it. This is an absolutely outstanding cast, filled with great performances both by folks whose faces are familiar but names are unknown, as well as a handful of name performers. Among the latter, Basil Radford, here without Naunton Wayne, is marvelous as the home guard officer. I have always thought that Joan Greenwood was one of the most enticing actresses in the history of film. If I could cast anyone from history in the role of Circe, she would be the one. She was not only beautiful and a fine actress, she possessed one of the great voices in film (put to great use in the Michael Redgrave version of THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST). Jean Cadell steals every scene she is in as an overbearing mother, while a very young Gordon Jackson, later to achieve fame in UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS, plays her son.
A RUN FOR YOUR MONEY concerns two Welsh miners who win a prize for two hundred pounds and a trip to a soccer match in London. Though ostensibly starring Donald Houston and Meredith Edwards, the film is largely taken over by supporting characters. Moira Lister is fine as a confidence woman, but even better is the remarkable Hugh Griffith as a Welshman who earlier left their town of the improbably named Hafoduwchbenceubwllymarchogcoch for success in London, but had been so reduced to poverty that he had had to hock his beloved harp. Alec Guinness is good in support, though not as good as one might expect. Interestingly, he acts here without his wig, one of the few times in his career he would appear au natural (though one of his characters in KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS was wigless-several other bald actors, including Fred Astaire and Humphrey Bogart, never appeared in a film with their own hair).
THE MAGGIE I had never seen before. It features a fine performance by Alex Mackenzie as the master of a coal boat in what was almost inconceivably his film debut, even though he was in his late sixties. The cast is largely unknowns, though the American actor Paul Douglas stars as the American businessman whose goods the Maggie attempts to transport. This is not a great film, but I was transfixed by the large number of remarkable location shots throughout Scotland.
THE TITFIELD THUNDERBOLT is the kind of understated charming film that the British seem to excel at. The plot is simple: the local line of the railway is being shut down, but the locals team together to keep the line running, despite the machinations of the local bus company. This was one of the first color films that Ealing did and it is from first to last an exquisite film to gaze at. Like with the other films, there is the sense of a time that has been lost being captured on film. It is not the kind of film that will make you laugh; it is more the kind that will make you smile and grin. My only complaint is a remarkably abrupt ending. The cast is a strong one, with Stanley Holloway, Hugh Griffith, and Naunton Wayne, here without Basil Radford. The train used at the end of the film was authentic, an engine over a hundred years old at the time of filming.
All of these films have been wonderfully restored and the images for all are absolutely first rate. However, I've never seen such a bare bones set in my life. No extras, no commentaries, not even trailers. This is a disappointment, especially given the cost of the set, but at least the prints are superb, and thankfully these not-always-easy-to-find films have at least been made available on DVD. I heartily urge anyone interested in high quality comedy to give these films a try."
Imagine there's no countries...
Junglies | Morrisville, NC United States | 02/10/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was reminded of this little comedy through something I had read and recently obtained it for family viewing. Although very dated it is an amusing work in the great British tradition of fighting bureaucracy and government in general and poking fun at ourselves too.
There are a few barriers to overcome first, for instance, living in the land of the plenty and instant gratification, as I currently do, it is hard to explain the concept of wartime rationing to children, or why it was that everyone flocked to Pimlico once there was the realisation that the normal rules no longer applied, to sell things. Similarly my children were horrified by the fishmonger wrapping up a fish in newspaper. They were even more so when I told them it was the only way to eat fish and chips (by which I mean fries).
But anyway, on with the tale. This is an engaging tale of ordinary folks fighting for their rights and treasure against the Whitehall bureaucracy (the man in Whitehall knows best). By accidentally exploding a leftover bomb from the blitz, some children enable a treasure trove to be found which includes a lost document declaring Pimlico to be a fiefdom of the Duke of Burgundy. This in itself brought a wry smile. Parts of London, really a part of France. Funnily enough I had read earlier of the news that the 2007 Tour de France is to start in London! The plot proceeds in a series of moves and counter moves, each yielding some small victory to one side or another until at last one skirmish seems to have settled the game for the Freedom Fighters when the same victory appears to bring utter defeat. Just as they are about to concede, the great British public steps in to help the underdogs which even stretches to airlifts of milk, a comment no doubt on the Berlin airlift. Finally, in another great British tradition, a compromise is reached and they all live happily ever after.
There is a great deal of social commentary in this movie about the very slow end to rationing after the Second World War had ended and how resilient the British people were. The enemy were no longer the French or the Germans but our own civil servants. Many would consider things to be no different today. There is a relatively brief appearance by Margaret Rutherford, better know for her Miss Marple role, who enlivens the proceedings. All in all an interesting and amusing movie where things were much more simple and relatively quick action could achieve so much as opposed to endless chattering in committees and boards which has become the hallmark of modern industrial societies.
On to more Ealing comedies...the Carry On series beckons..."
"It's a well known fact that some men were born two drinks b
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 12/27/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The British Ealing Studios had been around since the early 1930s, but it wasn't until the mid 1940s when they really seemed to come into their own, producing superior, easily accessible, slightly subversive, working class comedies for the everyman, the five films presented here, by Anchor Bay Entertainment, providing an interesting spread (Ealing Studios was to comedy in the 1940s and 1950s as Hammer Studios was to horror in the 1960s and 1970s).
Whisky Galore! (1949) This is perhaps my favorite of the bunch as it features a small, Scottish, Island community who find themselves in the precarious position of running out of whiskey, or, as known to them, the `water of life' (the film was set around the time of the war, when rationing was in full effect). As luck would have it (for the islanders, at least), a freighter runs afoul of a reef off the island, the ship bearing some fifty thousand cases of whiskey, but only problem is a local man, charged with coordinating the island's meager defenses, sees it as his responsibility to keep the local populace from raiding the ship before it sinks into the ocean (the line I used for my title of this review came from this film).
A Run for Your Money (1949) This one features a couple of affable brothers from a small, Welsh mining town (whose name I doubt few could pronounce) who win a fabulous award after producing more coal in a particular month than anyone else. The award includes the pair taking a trip to the big city, where upon arriving they loose track of each other and become involved in all sorts of mishaps (one unsuspectingly hooks up with a con woman while the other meets up with an old acquaintance, the latter pair hitting numerous pubs during their own trials and tribulations). Alec Guinness appears in a supporting role as a hapless reporter (whose forte is in gardening) who finds himself stuck with the unenviable task of trying not only find the young men, but also keep them out of trouble.
Passport to Pimlico (1949) This one involves a small community who find themselves in the middle of a national crisis after an unexploded bomb, a remnant of the war, accidentally detonates and reveals the local inhabitants fall under the rule not of the Crown, but of a past Duke (now dead) who long ago relocated in the area. As a result English law doesn't apply and the place becomes a haven for anyone looking to buy or sell with no regards to taxes or rationing leading up to a small band of local merchants butting heads with the British government.
The Titfield Thunderbolt (1953) This one involves a small, extremely local railway line that's about to be discontinued, taken over by a group of citizens, and the difficulties they soon encounter as they go against a pair of men who've invested in a bus, the intent being to take over the business of transport once the rail line was to be decommissioned. Of the five films presented here, this is the only in color.
The Maggie (1954) The last one on the list, which also happens to being one of the more entertaining features in the collection, involves a small, rickety cargo transport steam ship, known as `puffer', and it's rag tag crew, both remnants of an earlier time, who happen to fall into a much needed job opportunity by hauling valuable goods for an uptight American transportation businessman after a series of miscommunications. Upon realizing the situation the American tries desperately to retrieve his load, but the captain and crew, in desperate need of money, are determined to see the job through to the end.
I thought all the films here were very entertaining and worthwhile, but in particular, I enjoyed Whisky Galore! (1949), The Maggie (1954), and The Titfield Thunderbolt (1953) the most, and in that order. I would also say each film here, while somewhat economical, were made very well, and all featured exceptionally strong stories along with a wealth of interesting and entertaining characters, enough so to keep one engaged throughout their respective run times (keep in mind these are British comedies, so the humor is fairly droll). As I mentioned earlier The Titfield Thunderbolt is the only one in color, while the rest are presented in black and white. There are five discs in this set, each in its own slim line case, all packaged together in a stout and attractive box. Each is presented in fullscreen format (1.33:1), the picture coming across clear and clean, and all feature a Dolby Digital mono audio track that works well. There are no extras on any of the discs (each disc does have chapter stops), but within the box is also a booklet providing some information on the studio along with a healthy and informative bit with regards to each feature.
By the way, if you find this set to your liking, I'd highly recommend The Alec Guinness Collection DVD set, also released by Anchor Bay, which includes the following...Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), The Ladykillers (1955), The Man in the White Suit (1951), The Lavender Hill Mob (1951), and The Captain's Paradise (1953). Both sets may seem a bit pricey, but in terms of the quality of the material within the films, I found them both worth the expense.