Not Only But Always... (2004)

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

Released 6-Dec-2006

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Menu Animation
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 100:04
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Terry Johnson

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Rhys Ifans
Aidan McArdle
Jodie Rimmer
Camilla Power
Daphne Cheung
Jonathan Aris
Louise Wallace
Alan Cox
Josephine Davison
Richard Durden
Robin Soans
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Colin Towns

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    In 1994 British playwright Terry Johnson began a theatrical preoccupation with British Comedy which was to last for over 10 years and is still going. The play was called Dead Funny. This sometimes riotous comedy with a sharp knife to the underbelly centred on a group of English people distraught at the death of legend Benny Hill. In 1998 his interest shifted to Sid James and the Carry On team with the play Cleo, Camping, Emmanuelle and Dick. In 2004 he settled upon more icons of British comedy - Peter Cook and Dudley Moore with the TV movie Not Only But Always, a clever riff on Not Only But Also, the successful revue by the pair.

    Comedy lovers beware - there are only rare glimpses of some of the comedy skits that made the team famous (including my favourite, The One Legged Tarzan). Rather, this is a dramatisation of the peculiar and often destructive creative relationship between the pair. This relationship began in the early 60's when, as part of the university revue Beyond the Fringe, they managed to incite both scandal and adulation in equal measures. Using the device of their characters Pete and Dud as a framing device in grainy black and white is an interesting technique which allows the fictional creations to comment on the real life characters. The film then charts the relationship between the pair through the success of the 60's until their separation when Dudley Moore became the next big thing in Hollywood and, finally, at the attempts to reconcile before Cook's death in 1995.Terry Johnson's script, which he directed himself, is a caustically funny series of one liners and asides. The funnier Cook gets, however, the more he drives a knife into his relationship with Moore.

    Johnson based his script on a biography of Cook. If accurate it shows a man with unfathomable depths of self-loathing and jealousy. The film also suggests that the merciless ribbing Cook hands out to Moore stems from a deep platonic love. The film was made for television in 2004 and Rhys Ifans, who stars as Peter Cook, won a BAFTA for Best Actor for this role. Ifans would have to be one of the finest British actors working today. After his initial leap to fame as the comic side-kick in Notting Hill he seemed destined to be type-cast. However, his recent performance in Enduring Love with Daniel Craig was a chilling exercise in unwanted devotion. Here Ifans goes incredibly deep into the role. At first glance he does not look that much like Cook but in full flight he is indistinguishable from films of the real man. Ifans conveys every nuance of the deep well of anger and self-loathing that drove Cook to life-long alcoholism. Aidan McArdle has the less rewarding role as the diminutive and hen-pecked (by Cook) Dudley Moore. He gives a picture of a man who hates the process of working with Cook and yet realises that it is through this process that he creates his finest work. Moore became the toast of Hollywood in the early 80s with 10 in 1979 and Arthur in 1981, before settling into B movies. The film is a little too harsh a drama to appeal to comedy fans although Terry Johnson liberally sprinkles the script with double-edged one-liners. It does give some real insight into not only this comedy duo but the personal pain and suffering that lies at the core of the simple business of making people laugh.

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

Transfer Quality


   Not Only But Always is presented on DVD in a 1.78:1 transfer, which is consistent with the original aspect ratio of this made for television film. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    Although the film spans over 30 years, the chief drama in the story is in the 60s and 70s. Director Johnson and his cinematographer give the film a look reminiscent of the era. For this reason colours are a bit muted and the image is slightly soft. The quality of the transfer itself cannot be faulted. It is clean and clear of any artefacts.

    There are no problems with compression. There are subtitles in English for the hearing impaired, which give a good account of on-screen action.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    Not Only But Always comes to DVD with an English Dolby Digital 2.0 mix running at 256 Kb/s. Again, this is consistent with the humble TV origins. The mix is not bad and every word of Ifans' vitriolic diatribes can be heard clearly.

    There are no problems with audio sync.

    The music is a mixture of styles consistent with the era but there are jazz themes running through it that echo Dudley Moore's status as a great pianist.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


     This DVD does not contain any extras.

R4 vs R1

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

   This DVD is available in Region 1 (USA, Canada and US territories) and in Region 2 in a similar packaging.


    A deep and dark insight into the poison that sometimes lies at the centre of great creativity, Not Only But Always is a finely acted drama. The DVD transfer is fine if not outstanding but I would have liked to see some extras featuring some early Cook and Moore skits.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DVR 630H-S, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TH-50PV60A 50' Plasma. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX - SR603
SpeakersOnkyo 6.1 Surround

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE