Overall | The Green Man (1956) | School for Scoundrels (1959)

Alastair Sim Double Feature: Green Man, The/School for Scoundrels

Alastair Sim Double Feature: Green Man, The/School for Scoundrels

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Released 22-Nov-2004

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Overall Package

    This release features two films starring Alistair Sim and is billed as an Alistair Sim Double Feature. In reality though, Sim is a supporting actor in School For Scoundrels. The release could easily have been called the Terry-Thomas Double Feature, as the gap-toothed comedian also features in both films.

    Alistair Sim (1900-1976) was a Scottish-born actor who after a start in minor roles in British films of the 1930s became a character-star over the next two decades. His best known roles include police inspectors in Green For Danger and An Inspector Calls and the headmistress in the St Trinians films. He also was Scrooge in 1951's A Christmas Carol. Not long after the second of the two films included on this disc he left the cinema for a decade, returning in small roles as an old man. He and his wife were foster parents to George Cole during his teenage years, and Sim and Cole appeared in 11 films together, including the first of these two films.

    The Green Man, not to be confused with the Kingsley Amis story, is a wry comedy about a professional killer, whose efforts to dispose of a Cabinet Minister are thwarted by a vacuum cleaner salesman. Sim plays the jovial assassin.

    School For Scoundrels is one of those worm-that-turns stories, about a wimp who enrols in a Lifemanship college that teaches how to get one-up on others. Sim plays the Dean of the college, while the leading role is played by Ian Carmichael.

    Unfortunately, both films are transferred from projection prints that have seen better days. I would not be surprised if they are TV prints. More details can be found below.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | The Green Man (1956) | School for Scoundrels (1959)

The Green Man (1956)

The Green Man (1956)

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Released 24-Nov-2004

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1956
Running Time 76:11
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Robert Day
Studio
Distributor
Grenadier Films
Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Alistair Sim
George Cole
Terry-Thomas
Jill Adams
Raymond Huntley
Colin Gordon
Avril Angers
Eileen Moore
Dora Bryan
John Chandos
Cyril Chamberlain
Michael Ripper
Arthur Lowe
Case ?
RPI Box Music Cedric Thorpe Davie


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 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

    This is one of those British comedies in the tradition of Ealing Studios, though it was not made by that company. Harry Hawkins (Alistair Sim) learned his vocation at an early age: assassination. Now he is working on the case of Sir Gregory Upshott (Raymond Huntley), whom he discovers is going to be spending the night at The Green Man, a hotel near the coast. However, he is given considerable trouble by vacuum cleaner salesman William Blake (George Cole), and Hawkins' next-door neighbour Ann Vincent (Jill Adams), after his crony conceals the body of a victim in her piano.

    Alistair Sim is in his element in this film, and while he is the villain of the piece, the audience's sympathies are with him. His expressive face and bloodhound eyes lend themselves equally to cheerful villainy and the worried look of a man about to be found out. Some of his expressions are priceless. He is supported by a fine and familiar cast, including Cole who was virtually Sim's surrogate son. They appeared in 11 films together. Terry-Thomas appears as the randy Charles Boughtflower, Arthur Lowe as a radio salesman, Arthur Brough from Are You Being Served? as the proprietor of The Green Man and Michael Ripper as a waiter. Richard Wattis has a single scene as a doctor, and Peter Bull has a wordless cameo as a South American Generalissimo.

    The film was directed by Robert Day, but was produced and written by the team of Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat, based on their own play. These two directed and produced some fine films in their time, and while this one is merely competently directed by someone else (the scenes with Colin Gordon as Ann's fiancée feel forced), it bears the whimsical stamp of their comedy films. This is a pretty entertaining film even if it is not one of the best British comedies around.

    The movie is paired on a disc marketed as an Alistair Sim double-feature with School For Scoundrels. That film will be reviewed separately.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    It is a pity that we have to suffer a projection print with a lot of film artefacts. It is relatively sharp, looking like it is from 35mm material, but is not particularly crisp. Detail levels are acceptable. Contrast levels are a little lower than I would like, giving the film a flat look. Shadow detail is only just adequate, with the few dark scenes lacking a little detail.

    The film is in black and white, and has a slightly washed out look, with no deep blacks in evidence. The various shades of grey are adequate for viewing the film but I have seen better transfers of films made three decades earlier. Flesh tones are a little bloomy with insufficient detail for my liking.

    The transfer to video has its problems. The film is a bit jumpy at times, as if the print had been through a projector once too often. Film artefacts abound, with scratches, white flecks, dirt and debris throughout. There are also reel change markings, for example at 19:31.

    No subtitles are available. The film is presented on one layer of a dual layered disc, so there is no layer change.

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

Audio

    The sole audio track is English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.

    The audio is satisfactory without being exceptional. Dialogue is clear enough, and although the sound is thin and wiry, there is a reasonable amount of bass present. There is some audible hiss and some slight distortion in the louder passages.

    The music is by Cedric Thorpe Davie. It is not an exceptional score, but it suits the film and does not really impose itself on the viewer, so there cannot be too much wrong with it. The opening title music is very lively.

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

Extras

    No extras are provided.

R4 vs R1

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

    This disc seems to be identical to the UK Region 2 release.

Summary

    An amusing and quite British comedy.

    The video quality is disappointing.

    The audio quality is adequate.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Friday, November 12, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
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Overall | The Green Man (1956) | School for Scoundrels (1959)

School for Scoundrels (1959)

School for Scoundrels (1959)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 24-Nov-2004

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1959
Running Time 90:27
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Robert Hamer
Studio
Distributor
Ass British Pic Corp
Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Ian Carmichael
Alistair Sim
Terry-Thomas
Janette Scott
Dennis Price
Edward Chapman
Peter Jones
Kynaston Reeves
Irene Handl
John Le Mesurier
Gerald Campion
Hugh Paddick
Hattie Jacques
Case ?
RPI Box Music John Addison


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Pan & Scan English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 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

    This film is subtitled "or how to win without actually cheating!". Henry Palfrey (Ian Carmichael) is one of life's milquetoasts. While well-off due to inheriting a business from his uncle, he is imposed upon by everyone. We first meet him at the College of Lifemanship, an institution devoted to teaching people like Palfrey how to get one up on their opponents. The headmaster is Potter (Alistair Sim). Palfrey recounts his life in flashback from the time that he met April Smith (Janette Scott), who was taken from him by cad and bounder Raymond Delauney, ably played by cad and bounder specialist Terry-Thomas.

    Potter teaches Palfrey life lessons by example, with Palfrey acting out sequences like trying to get a girl into a compromising position, cheating at sport and so on. We then see Palfrey apply these lessons in real life.

    This film was made in the years before smut became a staple of British comedies, though there are several mildly risqué lines. It was directed by Robert Hamer, a fine director who made Kind Hearts and Coronets amongst others. By this stage of his career, he was deeply affected by alcoholism. Falling off the wagon during production, he was sacked from the film and it was completed by Cyril Frankel. The latter's contribution was uncredited, as was that of Peter Ustinov who co-wrote the screenplay. Hamer would never complete a film again, being sacked twice more during productions and dying in 1963 aged only 52. The central narrative has a lot in common with Buster Keaton's silent comedies, with an apparently incompetent lead who learns the ropes during the film and manages to succeed in the same situations he failed in earlier. Sadly, while this film has bright bits it seems quite uneven and never really springs to life, probably due to the problems with the director.

    Carmichael was the British comedian du jour during the period between Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers, and while his starring career was brief, he was very good at his best, and he is near his best here. Sim's scenes are few but telling, though I wish he had trimmed the hair in his ears. Terry-Thomas is excellent as usual. There are brief bits by John le Mesurier and Hattie Jacques, while Dennis Price and Peter Jones make for some funny used car salesmen. This film is worth seeing if you are a fan of the genre or actors, but general viewers may find it a bit twee.

    The movie is paired on a disc marketed as an Alistair Sim double-feature with The Green Man. That film is reviewed separately.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced. The original aspect ratio was 1.66:1, and the opening credits are shown window-boxed in this aspect ratio. I guess that means that this is from a television print.

    The transfer is relatively sharp, looking like it is from 35mm material, but is not particularly crisp, just like the film it is paired with. Detail levels are acceptable. Contrast levels are okay, though the film has a flat look. Shadow detail is adequate.

    The film is in black and white, and has a slightly faded look, with no deep blacks in evidence. The various shades of grey are a little washed-out in appearance.

    The film is a bit jumpy at times, as if the print had been through a projector once too often, again like the film it is paired with. Film artefacts appear throughout. Scratches, white flecks, dirt and debris all make their appearances.

    No subtitles are available. The film is presented on one layer of a dual-layer disc, so there is no layer change.

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

Audio

    The sole audio track is English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.

    The audio is satisfactory without being exceptional. Dialogue is clear enough, and although the sound is thin and wiry, there is a reasonable amount of bass present. There is some audible hiss and some slight distortion in the louder passages.

    The whimsical score is by John Addison. Typical British comedy music, it is quite light-hearted though there is good use of the orchestra, particularly the brassy theme in the opening credits.

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

Extras

    No extras are provided.

R4 vs R1

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

    The UK Region 2 release appears to be identical to the Region 4.

Summary

    An amusing though not top-notch British comedy.

    The video quality is disappointing.

    The audio quality is adequate.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Sunday, November 14, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE