1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Buy the Trilogy from Amazon UK,
This review is from: THE BEIDERBECKE TAPES (DVD)
On the trilogy UK edition: There are no extras and the film quality is good, but not crystal clear (remember this was made before the digital age really took off). Typical of its time, this is a slow-paced, sedate, gentle, wry comedy. Today's MTV generation may find it a little toooo slow.
The three stories that make up the trilogy are executed with varying degrees of success. The first, about the "grey" economy (buying and selling "legitimate" merchandise, without all the hassle of taxes and shops rents and the kind of secret handshaking that goes on between big businesses to control the market) is the best. Trevor Chaplin's purchase of some jazz records does not go as expected. Worse, the people he's bought them from are being investigated by the police. In order to extricate himself from the mess, he and his partner, Jill Swinburn, together with Big Al and Little Norm, must deal with corruption and collusion between big business, the local council and the boys in blue (the police).
The second, the Beiderbecke Tapes, is the least satisfactory, partly due to a compromise in Location (Edinburgh substituted for Venice) and partly because the chase sequence, being very laboured, outstays its welcome very quickly. Mostly, however, it's because the McGuffin at the center of the story is totally senseless.
The final story, the Beiderbecke Connection, returns the duo to Leeds and Wakefield and their association with Big Al and Little Norm. The story is more satisfying, because it's on a much more realistic level. Jill and Trevor take in a refugee for Al and Norm, ignorant of the fact that he's wanted by the police. The plot leaves a slightly bad taste in the mouth these days, where cybercrime and financial irregularities are taken much more seriously, but even back then, this was the most cynical and scathing outlook on British culture, the tone coming dangerously close to its contemporary, A Very Peculiar Practice.
The stories are deliberately slight and understated. This is light comedy, producing wry, knowing smiles, gently parodying hard crime dramas and, more prosaically, the teaching profession. At its best, the warmth of the relationship between Jill and Trevor, their astute, sardonic commentary and the portrayal of the British way of life as one of adversity in the face of overwhelming stupidity, are what carry the audience forward.
Recommended, but don't expect belly laughs or high drama.