Smiley Gets a Gun (1958)

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Released 7-Feb-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1958
Running Time 86:03
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Anthony Kimmins
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Sybil Thorndike
Chips Rafferty
Keith Calvert
Bruce Archer
Margaret Christensen
Reg Lye
Grant Taylor
Verena Kimmins
Leonard Teale
Jannice Dinnen
Brian Farley
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Clyde Collins
Wilbur Sampson


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Pan & Scan English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
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

    Two years after the release of the 1956 film Smiley, the mischievous adventures of young Smiley Greevins continue and conclude with this film, Smiley Gets A Gun. Despite the considerable success of Smiley, the second film was less successful and subsequent plans for a third Smiley film were dropped.

    Both films were adapted from Moore Raymond novels, with Smiley Gets A Gun coming from the 1948 novel of the same name. The screenplay was co-written by Moore Raymond and Anthony Kimmins, who once more takes on the roles of producer and director.

    Cinematographer, Ted Scaife backs up his work on Smiley by again using the scope of the Cinemascope format to great effect. The vast beauty of the landscape is nicely framed without overindulgence and posturing.

    While many actors reprise their roles from the first film, a different young actor was required to play the essential role of Smiley in this film. With the original Smiley, Colin Petersen, working in England at the time and therefore unavailable for this sequel, a massive search was undertaken for a replacement Smiley.

    Ten-year-old Keith Calvert was selected from the scores of hopefuls. This was actually a perfect piece of casting, as many people are totally unaware that different actors play the title role in both films.

     Smiley Gets A Gun was filmed in the same locations as the original film, using many of the same buildings. Some specifics from the first film have changed slightly for the sequel. Smiley and his family live in a different house, with his father working on the property as a blacksmith. Smiley's father has also seemingly changed his wicked ways from the first film, as evidence of his excessive drinking is nowhere to be seen in this film.

    Smiley (Keith Calvert) and his cobber, Joey (Bruce Archer), are creating their regular brand of mischief around the police station when Smiley is accosted by Sgt Flaxman (Chips Rafferty). In an effort to teach Smiley some responsibility, the sergeant offers him a deal. For each responsible act Smiley performs, the sergeant will put a nick in an old gum tree with an axe. When Smiley has accumulated eight nicks, he will receive the .22 rifle from the sergeant's personal collection. But for each act of stupidity and foolishness, the sergeant will remove at least one or more nicks from the tree.

    Smiley volunteers to take some bees to Granny McKinley (Sybil Thorndike) to help with her rheumatism. Granny is regarded by the town's children as a witch and is the subject of many fanciful fairytales. Soon the apprehensive Smiley and the suspicious Granny strike up a trusting friendship.

     Granny refuses to leave her room and is fiercely protective of a stash of gold that she has hidden. She confides in Smiley and reveals to him the location of her gold and he swears to never tell a living soul. Unfortunately though, Smiley slips up on his promise and casually mentions the gold to Quirk (Guy Doleman), a travelling journalist, who is writing an article about the town.

    Granny McKinley is Murrumbilla's oldest living citizen and Smiley is given the task of convincing her to open the new community water bore. When she realises that doing so will get Smiley his gun, Granny reluctantly agrees to the task.

    The whole town has turned out for the opening and Smiley is Granny's constant companion, although half way through the ceremony Smiley realises his slip of the tongue and runs off unexplained to check on Granny's gold. Once he is happy that the gold is secure, he returns to the ceremony and to Granny's side. But when they both return to Granny's room after the ceremony, the gold has vanished and Smiley is the sole suspect.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer for Smiley Gets A Gun is let down badly by the pan and scan presentation.

    The following two paragraphs are virtually identical to my review of the first Smiley film, as the transfers and packaging practically mirror each other.

    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced. The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 which obviously is not 16x9 enhanced. This is a long way from the film's original and correct aspect ratio of 2.35:1. As previously stated, Smiley Gets A Gun was filmed in glorious Cinemascope, but instead of preserving the widescreen format we have been presented with a sub-standard Pan and Scan transfer. The opening and closing credits of the film are displayed in the correct ratio to preserve the titles from extending over the 1.33:1 screen, but this wonderful scope is soon blown away by the intrusive panning and scanning process.

    The artwork used in the design of the cover slick for this DVD has been adapted from some original artwork from the film. As such, the Cinemascope logo is prevalent at the front and rear of the packaging, which is unfortunately very misleading. It is interesting to note, however, that the Fox Home Entertainment website shows the cover art of the DVD with the Cinemascope logo removed. This may indicate that the packaging has since been corrected and re-printed - let's hope so.

    Sharpness and clarity levels are very good generally, with the occasional presence of noticeable grain. Blacks and shadows were quite reasonable and displayed good detail.

    Colours were very well balanced, with no saturation issues. Thankfully, the colour fluctuation problems that were evident on the Smiley DVD were almost non-existent here. However, one such example was evident at 52:03, but only lasts for a few seconds.

    There were no MPEG artefacts noticed in this transfer. Film-to-video artefacts were well controlled and relatively minor. They consisted of some edge enhancement and occasional aliasing. A couple of aliasing examples occur at 18:48 on a jacket and at 21:37 on a hat.

     English subtitles and English subtitles for the hearing impaired are available on this DVD. Both forms of subtitles are easy to read in bold white and appear to be very accurate.

    This is a single sided, single layered disc. As such, there is no layer change.

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

Audio

    The audio transfer is actually quite good.

    There is one audio track available on the DVD, English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s). This is the original mono audio track.

    The dialogue quality is very good. I had no problems hearing and comprehending the dialogue throughout the film.

    A few minor lapses in audio sync were noticeable on occasions, but these were not particularly significant or annoying.

    The original music score by Wilbur Sampson complements the themes of the film well. Clyde Collins wrote the title song from the film, A Little Boy Called Smiley.

    The surround channels and subwoofer were not required.

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

Extras

      There are no extras on this DVD.

Menu

      The menu is a very basic, static design which is 16x9 enhanced. It features an audio sample of the title song from the film.

R4 vs R1

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

    At the time of this review there is no R1 version of Smiley Gets A Gun available.

Summary

    Smiley Gets A Gun is wonderful family entertainment that will appeal to all ages. It is an entertaining sequel to the first film, with more charming performances from its young cast.

    Like the DVD presentation of Smiley, the video transfer is let down badly by the pan and scan presentation, which effectively wipes out nearly half of the Cinemascope ratio.

    The audio transfer is very good, considering the limitations of the original mono audio track.

    There are no extras on this DVD.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
Monday, May 22, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDJVC XV-N412, using Component output
DisplayHitachi 106cm Plasma Display 42PD5000MA (1024x1024). Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationPanasonic SA-HE70 80W Dolby Digital and DTS
SpeakersFronts: Jensen SPX7 Rears: Jensen SPX4 Centre: Jensen SPX13 Subwoofer: Jensen SPX17

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