Overall | Alvin Purple (Roadshow) (1973) | Alvin Rides Again (Roadshow) (1974)

Alvin Purple Double Feature (1974)

Alvin Purple Double Feature (1974)

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Released 5-Aug-2004

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Overall Package

    The first film in this two disc package is the original Alvin Purple, released in 1973 and a huge financial success for the fledgling Hexagon Productions. It made an unlikely star out of Graeme Blundell, and paved the way for a long series of Australian films with sexual themes, or at least a lot of nudie exploitation flicks.

    The film was a relic of its era, with television series like Number 96 and The Box bringing nudity into the home, as part of the sexual awakening of the Seventies. Programmes like this would be hard to put on the small screen today, but the content of this film would seem tame by the standards of the cinema nowadays. Controversial in its time, it would pass by without notice today.

    It was inevitable given the success of Alvin Purple that a sequel would be made. Unfortunately, Alvin Rides Again is a sad and sorry affair, and I found myself cringing with embarrassment when watching it.

    Both films come together in a single package, each given a good transfer to disc and with some relevant extras. Available separately, this set is also part of the Hexagon Tribute Collection, which features all eight films released by the company.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Tuesday, November 30, 2004
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Overall | Alvin Purple (Roadshow) (1973) | Alvin Rides Again (Roadshow) (1974)

Alvin Purple (Roadshow) (1973)

Alvin Purple (Roadshow) (1973)

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

Released 5-Aug-2004

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Introduction
Dolby Digital Trailer-Rain
Featurette-Inside Alvin
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer
Biographies-Crew-Tim Burstall (Director)
Filmographies-Cast & Crew
Gallery-Photo
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1973
Running Time 92:48 (Case: 97)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (67:07) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Tim Burstall
Studio
Distributor
Hexagon
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Graeme Blundell
Abigail
Lynette Curran
Christine Amor
Dina Mann
Dennis Miller
Jill Forster
Frederick Parslow
Valerie Blake
Alan Finney
Gary Down
Ellie Maclure
Peter Aanensen
Case ?
RPI Box Music Brian Cadd


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Alvin Purple has a problem: women are always chasing after him. In a lengthy soft-focus flashback sequence, we see that he had this problem as a schoolboy, with girls wanting him to help them with their "homework". As an adult, Alvin finds it hard to resist the advances of women. Unable to find a steady job until he teams up with a friend to sell waterbeds, he is unsatisfied with his encounters with women. Even psychiatry does not seem to help. But he does feel something for Tina, one girl he does not bed. Will Alvin find true happiness?

    When released in 1973, Alvin Purple was highly controversial, both due to its subject matter and the frequent nudity and innuendo. Seen today it is hard to work out what the fuss was all about. It certainly does not go anywhere near as far as films like Baise-Moi or Romance in depictions of sex. In fact, it is rather coy at times. The difference between Alvin and these more recent films is the tone. Where contemporary film-makers seem determined to camouflage the smut with excessive seriousness, Alvin is a light-hearted, good-natured fantasy that still manages to skewer aspects of the so-called sexual revolution of the Seventies. Alvin's resolution early in the film to overcome his problem and usher in the "sexless Seventies" lasts about two seconds, and while he may see his excessive prowess with women as a problem, his psychiatrist correctly points out that he is just very normal. But his story is the fantasy of many men: to be pursued by lustful women after only one thing. In a sense this is a reversal of the usual roles, and the females become the predators rather than the victims. The likeability of the central character and much of the comedy comes from the fact that he does not look anything like the typical stud.

    Various aspects of the burgeoning sexual revolution are held up to ridicule: psychiatry, waterbeds, the legal profession and its double standards, the media and anything else the writer could think of. Alan Hopgood wrote the screenplay, and a very good one it is. The film has a believable narrative (if you accept the central conceit), and the story is well-paced. There are a lot of double-entendres, but these are mostly delivered with a straight face, without the nudge-nudge wink-wink you associate with similar British films of the era. The film is lively and still quite funny, even after more than thirty years, though the pace does sag a little towards the end.

    Graeme Blundell will be forever associated with this character, much to his chagrin apparently. He is a likeable and believable Alvin, managing to create a sympathetic character and avoiding any tendency to overact. He is a deft comedy player and his timing is impeccable in this film. The supporting cast is generally very good. Penne Hackforth-Jones plays the repressed female psychiatrist quite well, as does George Whaley as the other psychiatrist Dr McBurney. There are a lot of familiar faces in the cast, such as brief bits by Jacki Weaver, Alan Finney, Abigail, Jill Forster and Dennis Miller. Noel Ferrier has an amusing role as a judge. The Elke Neidhart who appears as one of Alvin's clients in the movies shown in the courtroom scene is recognisably the Elke Neidhardt who is directing the Wagner Ring cycle being performed in Adelaide at the time of writing.

    Alvin must have touched a chord with viewers in 1973, as it was a major box office success. At this time the number of films with sexual themes was on the up. The 'R' certificate had just been introduced, and soft-core films from Europe played the smaller theatres. American films had more and more nudity and sex, so it was inevitable that Australia would follow suit. In fact, after Alvin there was a flood of "naughty" films, which would last throughout the rest of the decade. The sequel Alvin Rides Again quickly followed, as did a brief television series memorably pulled off the air by the aptly-named ABC Chairman Sir Henry Bland. There was another ill-advised sequel, Melvin, Son of Alvin in 1984. The first sequel is included on disc two of this two disc set, and that film is reviewed separately.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented on this disc in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The original aspect ratio would have been 1.85:1, so we are not missing much here.

    Although the film has not been fully restored, this is a fine transfer. The transfer is very sharp with a lot of detail visible. I suspect that the film has not looked as good since its original release. Technically, the film is quite well made but there are a few instances where it is obvious that the film was not made on a large budget. Some scenes where the backlighting overwhelms the screen making the characters indistinct should have been reshot. Thankfully this only happens a couple of times: when the young Alvin is talking with his teacher, and when the male psychiatrist is discussing Alvin's problems. There are also variations in the colour palette, with skin tones looking different in different shots. This is probably due to variations in the lighting. Again, this could have been corrected at the time by reshooting.

    Contrast levels are good, with the whole transfer having a film-like appearance. This is helped by a healthy level of grain. The colour saturation seems to have been cranked up a little too much. For the most part the colours are vivid and lifelike, but there are some excessively bright reds in evidence. There is no colour bleeding, fortunately. Black are very solid with no noticeable low level noise. Whites are as pure as the original photography allows.

    There are a couple of instances of aliasing on car grilles, but otherwise there are no film to video or MPEG artefacts.

    Film artefacts tend to increase in frequency over the duration of the film. These mostly take the form of white flecks, with some occasional dirt and minor blemishes. There is nothing really to complain about apart from the reel change markings, such as at 33:17, 52:02 and 68:03. Even these are quite small in size.

    Optional hard of hearing subtitles are provided. These are in a white font and are relatively large. They are thus easily read. They match the dialogue very well, with only the occasional paraphrasing or dropping of words. They are placed on the screen to match the location of the speaker, which may be helpful for those who are hard of hearing.

    The layer change on this RSDL disc is well placed on a scene change at 67:07 and is barely noticeable.

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

Audio

    There are two audio tracks provided, in Dolby Digital 5.1 (the default) and Dolby Digital 2.0. I listened to the latter and sampled the former.

    The audio is very good, with clear dialogue and not very much to take issue with. The audio is not of reference quality, but you would not expect it to be. There is very little in the way of directional effects, with almost no subwoofer activity and very little in the way of rear channel effects. Both soundtracks are very much full frontal, with the two-channel mix sounding a little wider due to the the surround mix having a lot of centre speaker activity.

    The music score is by Brian Cadd, who also sings the theme song heard during the opening and closing credits. The song was a chart success in its day, and the rest of the music score is very good. The chase sequences have music that is meant to be reminiscent of the Benny Hill chase music.

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

Extras

    A good selection of extras, with one fault. The cursor was not visible on the main menu screen, which meant that I had to guess where it was in order to access the submenus. The submenus do not have this problem, nor did it occur on my DVD-ROM drive.

Main Menu Introduction

    A brief animated sequence prior to the main menu.

Dolby Digital Trailer-Rain (0:34)

    This ancient trailer appears when you choose the option to play the film.

Featurette-Inside Alvin (48:02)

    This is a making of documentary that was screened on television at the time of the film's original release, and was made by Brian Trenchard-Smith. It is in pretty poor condition, with video tracking errors throughout and a grainy and aged look to it, with muffled audio to boot. It features clips from the film and interviews with the director and cast. Some of the clips are for sequences that do not appear in the final cut of the film, so it is valuable from that perspective as well as being a time capsule of 1970's attitudes. A humorous sequence involves Blundell discussing the problems of shooting sequences in the nude, mainly that of what to do if he had a rush of blood, so to speak.

Interviews-Cast & Crew (24:35)

    A series of interviews with background to the production of the film. The interviewees are Burstall, Blundell, Finney, Robin Copping (cinematographer), Hopgood, Weaver and Eli McLure (Tina), the latter looking a lot older than in 1973.

Theatrical Trailer (3:32)

    An original trailer from 1973, this is in 1.33:1 and in average condition.

Biographies-Crew-Tim Burstall

    A text biography and filmography of the director.

Filmographies-Cast & Crew

    Filmographies of Blundell, Hopgood, Copping and Finney.

Gallery-Photo (3:47)

    Promotional material and behind-the-scenes photos, presented as continuous footage with the theme song playing in the background.

R4 vs R1

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

    This Region 4 release seems to be the only release in any region.

Summary

    One of the best Australian comedies ever, it stands the test of time well.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is very good.

    A nice selection of extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Tuesday, November 23, 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)
Eli McLure comment - Anonymous REPLY POSTED
The Alvin Purple TV Show on DVD - Anonymous REPLY POSTED
Is this Now OOP??? - Anonymous

Overall | Alvin Purple (Roadshow) (1973) | Alvin Rides Again (Roadshow) (1974)

Alvin Rides Again (Roadshow) (1974)

Alvin Rides Again (Roadshow) (1974)

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

Released 5-Aug-2004

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Introduction
Dolby Digital Trailer-Rain
Theatrical Trailer
Biographies-Crew-Tim Burstall (Director)
Filmographies-Cast & Crew
Gallery-Photo
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Short Film-AFTRS Film: Six Days Straight (2002)
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1974
Running Time 87:16 (Case: 81)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (54:50) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By David Bilcock
Robin Copping
Studio
Distributor
Hexagon
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Graeme Blundell
Alan Finney
Gus Mercurio
Frank Thring
Chantal Contouri
Noel Ferrier
Abigail
Briony Behets
Frank Wilson
Jon Finlayson
Jeff Ashby
John Michael Howson
Penne Hackforth-Jones
Case ?
RPI Box Music Brian Cadd


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Alvin Purple (Graeme Blundell) and his mate Spike (Alan Finney) decide to escape Melbourne's rat race and head north. After some comical adventures in the country they end up in an unnamed city which bears a remarkable resemblance to Melbourne. At a casino they blow a couple of thousand dollars in winnings from a country cricket match, and fall in with a bunch of American gangsters led by Balls McGee (Graeme Blundell). When Balls is accidentally put out of commission, Alvin is forced at gunpoint to impersonate the gangster, so that dealings with the local crime bigwig Fingers (Frank Thring) can go ahead. Alvin also meets Fingers' lady friend Boobs la Touche (Chantal Contouri). Can Alvin and Spike survive the underworld war? Will Alvin and Boobs find true and lasting happiness together? Is this an inept and embarrassing film that should have been kept in the vault?

    This is an inept and embarrassing film that should have been kept in the vault. Where the original Alvin Purple was a fresh comedy with a witty script and appealing performances, this is a mess. The script is just dumb, the performances vary from fair to terrible (Noel Ferrier for example) and the film is dull and tedious.

    The actors look disinterested. Graeme Blundell's usual cheerful blokiness is overwhelmed by the stupid Americanisms visited upon the Balls character he plays, the name of which is a giveaway of the level of comedy in the film. Why would 1970s American gangsters and their molls wear 1920s clothing? Maybe it isn't supposed to be realistic, but surely this was going too far. The script too, taken out of the hands of the screenwriter Alan Hopgood, is truly terrible. The one priceless moment in the film is the look of utter contempt on Frank Thring's face when he finds himself forced to utter the immortal lines "Balls, meet Boobs. Boobs, meet Balls." A lot of performers from the first film reappear in this one, but apart from Blundell and Finney they play entirely different characters.

    It's hard to say anything positive about this film, but it was a commercial success on initial release, making a considerable profit. Presumably that was on the coat-tails of the original film. I doubt whether many people went to see it twice, and this film killed off a potential Alvin franchise according to Alan Hopgood.

    This film is included on the second disc of a two-disc set, with Alvin Purple on the first disc. So, if you want a copy of Alvin Purple, you get this as well.

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

Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, not too distant from the original 1.85:1, and it is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is something of a disappointment compared to the first film, though really it is not that bad. The major differences are the amount of grain and the level of film artefacts, which may be neither here nor there for many viewers. The transfer is quite sharp, and detail is rendered quite well.

    Contrast levels are good. There is not much in the way of detail in shadows, and some of the indoor scenes are a little murky. Low level noise is present throughout, so the shadows are not uniformly dark and blacks are rarely solid. Colour otherwise is reasonable, though flesh tones can tend to be a little dark. Reds are very bright, such as Alvin's red jumper at 7:25.

    Film to video artefacts are limited to some minor aliasing on car grilles. There are a lot of film artefacts, with minor blemishes, dirt flecks and minor scratches visible throughout the running time.

    Optional hearing impaired subtitles are provided, and as is the case with all of the releases in this series, they are in large and easily read white type and are positioned on the screen relative to the speaker. The subtitles are very close to the actual dialogue from the sample I made of them.

    The film is presented on an RSDL-formatted disc with the layer change at 54:50. It is well positioned at a scene change and is not disruptive.

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

Audio

    There are two audio tracks provided. The default is Dolby Digital 5.1, with an alternative Dolby Digital 2.0 track. I listened to the default track.

    Dialogue is quite clear throughout. I presume that the original audio recording was mono. This surround remix is very much located across the front channels, with dialogue from the centre speaker and music and effects spread across the main speakers. There seems to be little in the way of rear channel or subwoofer activity. In fact I did not notice any low frequency effects.

    The music score is again by Brian Cadd, with the same theme song as in the first film. Again, the score suits the film, though it suffers because the film is so poor. Cadd gets to perform on screen with his Bootleg Family Band during the nightclub sequence. The song they perform is All In the Way (That They Use My Face), which was a hit at the time.

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

Extras

    Like the Alvin Purple disc, the cursor was not visible on the main menu screen, which meant that I had to guess where it was in order to access the submenus. The submenus do not have this problem, nor did it occur on my DVD-ROM drive.

Main Menu Introduction

    A brief animated introduction to the set of films in the Hexagon Tribute Collection.

Dolby Digital Trailer-Rain (0:34)

    This old thing again, which is shown when you select Play Movie from the main menu. You are able to skip forward to the movie.

Theatrical Trailer (3:40)

    The trailer shows all the "highlights" from the film. It is in reasonable condition until near the end, where there is some major damage.

Biographies-Crew-Tim Burstall

    A detailed biography and complete filmography.

Filmographies-Cast & Crew

    Complete filmographies for Blundell, Hopgood, Robin Copping, Finney and David Bilcock.

Gallery-Photo (3:35)

    Footage showing posters and publicity and behind-the-scenes photographs.

Interviews-Cast & Crew (8:05)

    This shorter than usual set of interviews features Burstall, Copping, Hopgood and Blundell discussing the film. Blundell claims not to remember much of the making of it.

Short Film-AFTRS Film: Six Days Straight (2002) (10:35)

    This is a short graduation film from the Australian Film, Television and Radio School, about the comic bungling of a robbery. By comparison with the feature film, this is a masterpiece. In its execution it is streets ahead of the 1974 film, even though I have to admit I did not particularly like it (mainly due to the presence of an actor who rubs me up the wrong way entirely). The young film-makers show some talent, which I hope they are able to use in the local industry before too long. The film is in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 but is not 16x9 enhanced.

R4 vs R1

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

    Fortunately for Region 1, this film has not been released on DVD there, or in fact anywhere else in the world. The reputation of the Australian film industry remains intact, for the time being.

Summary

    This is an atrocious film by any criteria, an embarrassment to all concerned I fear. The video and audio transfers are far better than the film deserves, as is the extras package.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Sunday, November 28, 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)
Another Alvin sequel ... sort of - Sammy W REPLY POSTED
Censorship rating has changed - ROB
Oops! - ROB REPLY POSTED
Speaking of the R rating and Alvin... - Anonymous REPLY POSTED
Alvin Rides Again's M Rating - Gary Couzens REPLY POSTED