Wonderful Life (1964)

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Released 11-Feb-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Musical Main Menu Audio
Theatrical Trailer
Rating ?
Year Of Production 1964
Running Time 108:39
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Sidney J. Furie
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Cliff Richard
Carole Gray
Robert Morley
The Shadows
Susan Hampshire
Richard O'Sullivan
Melvyn Hayes
Una Stubbs
Case ?
RPI Box Music Brian Bennett
Roy C. Bennett
Various Others


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

      You can tell that Wonderful Life is a more sophisticated film than Cliffy's other ones because they start the action long before the credits come up! And now we're on location, in the Canary Islands. Aka Swingers' Paradise (do you mind!), Cliff Richard has transformed into Johnnie, who is the leader of a gang of minstrel sailors who are cast adrift when they blow up the ship's power supply. In order to get enough money to get home, they attempt to head south to pick bananas, but are waylaid on a film set where the tyrant director Lloyd Davis (Walter Slezak) is making life hell for ingénue starlet Jenny (Susan Hampshire). The kids decide to help Jenny in spite of herself, by making an alternative secret movie to prove to her that she has genuine talent, and to rival Davis' production.

      So, what will happen if Davis finds out? And what exactly is his relationship to the timid little starlet? And does Johnnie get his girl? (As if there was any doubt!)

      In many ways, this presents as a more self-assured movie than The Young Ones or Summer Holiday. The ensuing years had obviously had a positive effect on Mr Richard, who looks considerably more comfortable and open in this performance. It has pulled ever so slightly further away from the 50s stranglehold that was still evident in The Young Ones and the tongue in cheek approach had a surer sense of irony to it. The partnership between the aforementioned Richard O'Sullivan and Melvyn Hayes (who went on to be unforgettably Gloria in the BBC TV series, It Ain't Half Hot Mum) secures into quite an assured little duo, and Susan Hampshire is a sweetie pie as Jenny. Some of the dance sequences are genuinely good, and the homage to Hollywood is sufficiently self-effacing to be tolerable. It is interesting to see a Bond film portrayed as the epitome of contemporary cinema... and forty years on.... hmmm.

      Okay - so this movie was never going to be an Oscar threat - but it was hugely popular in its time, and while it's travelled down the years somewhat timeworn, its good natured core is a welcome return to a happier place - a land before Prozac - ahh, what a wonderful life!

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced.

     Sharpness and luminance are quite good with little low level noise and reasonable shadow detail. Grain levels were reasonably fine.

     Colours also were surprisingly pleasing. Skin tones were reasonably accurate and colours remained true and contained.

     There were only occasional appearances of aliasing and motion blur at times. There was also a touch of detail loss in mid and background parts of some scenes, but these crimes have been far more apparent in much more recent films. There was the odd scratch or dust blight, but they did not distract from the film overall.

     There were no subtitles available on the film.

     I did not detect a layer change on this dual layered disc (with The Young Ones placed on the other layer).

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The single English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack available can best be described as "serviceable."

     Most of the time, dialogue was distinct and clear. Audio sync was not great with the worst offences occurring during the songs which at times were horribly mimed and way out from the audio.

      As mentioned in the Young Ones review, there's plenty to get sentimental about musically, with original Shadows numbers being performed, and a myriad of known and not so well remembered early 60s songs. The music is precisely what you'd expect, and is nostalgia to the nth degree.

     Overall, the sound was pretty nondirectional and a tad sharp and tinny at times. The subwoofer was virtually nonexistent, and there was some variance to the timbre and quality of the sound. Sometimes it sounded shrill and tinny, then it sounded a bit like it was underwater. This was noticeable but not exceptional to the point of fury.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Theatrical Trailer

     Wonderful Life (3:26) - the sound was pretty bad through this one.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

      The two regions seem to offer the same, so R4 is the winner for reasons of proximity.

Summary

     Cliff looks much more relaxed in this production, and the movie is a little more self assured than earlier efforts. It's still cheesy stuff, but it's capable of a slightly more ironic nod than its predecessors. Definitely a film for the pre-converted, it's a fluffy bit of sentimental fun.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Mirella Roche-Parker (read my bio)
Thursday, January 22, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDSinger SGD-001, using S-Video output
DisplayTeac 76cm Widescreen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationTeac 5.1 integrated system
SpeakersTeac 5.1 integrated system

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