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Ealing Studios Comedy Collection (The Maggie / A Run for Your Money / Titfield Thunderbolt / Whisky Galore! / Passport to Pimlico)

4.3 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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(Apr 05, 2005)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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 EALING STUDIOS COMEDY COLLECTION has been newly remastered from pristine vault materials, many available for the first time ever in America.

Ealing Studios was the birthplace of the most delectable crop of movies to decorate postwar cinemas, a group of veddy British comedies that nevertheless spoke the international language. By necessity, the Ealing Studios Comedy Collection takes second place to the Alec Guinness Collection, the latter being the crème de la crème of Ealing's signature actor. But the Comedy Collection is nevertheless a stem-to-stern delight.

Three films from Ealing's zenith year, 1949, anchor the collection. Passport to Pimlico captures the mood of postwar London via an absurdist plot: the detonation of an unexploded bomb in Pimlico reveals a 400-year-old decree proclaiming the neighborhood an independent royal territory of Burgundy. Their independence thus established, the locals (led by Stanley Holloway) celebrate their freedom from rationing and taxation. A Run for Your Money follows two Welsh coalmining brothers after they win a newspaper contest for tickets to a London rugby match; in this modest comedy, Alec Guinness sketches one of his eccentric little supporting gems.

Whisky Galore! is one of the best Ealing films--funny but also rather lovely. During the war, the remote Scottish island of Todday is starved for scarce whisky, until a shipwreck strands thousands of cases of "the water of life" tantalizingly within reach. Basil Radford is hilariously misguided as the island's chief of Defense, and Joan Greenwood lends her fetching presence--but every member of the large ensemble is terrific. The gifted Alexander Mackendrick debuted as director, and his sense of timing and tone is impeccable. (It was retitled Tight Little Island in the U.S., where it scored a big hit.)

Mackendrick also directed the marvelous 1954 comedy The Maggie, with Paul Douglas as a go-go American businessman whose cargo (and life) is slowed by a broken-down scow chugging from Glasgow to the islands. Traces of melancholy underlie the humor, and one wonders if this film might have been a model for the thematically similar Local Hero. Finally, The Titfield Thunderbolt, from 1953, is a Charles Crichton-directed farce about a small town going into the railroad business (and the first Ealing comedy in color). Its anarchy borders on the abrasive at times, although Stanley Holloway is in fine form as a benefactor who demands his own drinking car on the train. --Robert Horton

Special Features

  • Includes the films The Maggie,  A Run for Your Money,  Titfield Thunderbolt,  Whiskey Galore!,  Passport to Pimlico

Product Details

  • Actors: Basil Radford, Joan Greenwood, Stanley Holloway, George Relph, Paul Douglas
  • Directors: Alexander Mackendrick, Charles Crichton, Charles Frend, Henry Cornelius
  • Writers: Alexander Mackendrick, Charles Frend, Angus MacPhail, Clifford Evans
  • Format: Box set, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 5
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Starz / Anchor Bay
  • DVD Release Date: April 5, 2005
  • Run Time: 428 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007LPSFO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #102,194 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Ealing Studios Comedy Collection (The Maggie / A Run for Your Money / Titfield Thunderbolt / Whisky Galore! / Passport to Pimlico)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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.
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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.
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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).
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