Nuns on the Run (1990)

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Released 29-May-2009

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Director/Writer Jonathan Lynn
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1990
Running Time 88:19
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (67:20) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Jonathan Lynn

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Eric Idle
Robbie Coltrane
Camille Coduri
Janet Suzman
Doris Hare
Lila Kaye
Robert Patterson
Robert Morgan
Winston Dennis
Tom Hickey
Colin Campbell
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music Hidden Faces
David Kitay

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 4.0 L-C-R-S (224Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/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 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

     Back in 1990 (nearly 20 years ago!!), I can clearly recall this film, Nuns on the Run, being a big success here in Australia. It was the last film made by George Harrison's film company, Hand Made Films, originally set up to make Life of Brian. It had a pretty low budget for its day, only 3 million pounds. This is an old fashioned Ealing-style English caper comedy, which is certainly a lot fun to watch, despite being a little dated now. This local release has appeared some years after this film was available overseas on DVD.

    The story involves Brian Hope (Eric Idle) and Charlie McManus (Robbie Coltrane), two minor league London gangsters who are getting sick of the increasing violence in their gang, which has recently been taken over by a young boss, Casey. They have decided they really want to get out of the gang but are afraid to tell the new boss as he tends to take such ideas quite badly. The boss wants them to steal some money from the triads, however, Brian is more interested in wooing a new girl he has met, Faith (Camille Coduri, whom Doctor Who fans will recognise). Anyway, the heist doesn't go according to plan and Brian and Charlie take things into their own hands, winding up with the money but also the boss, the triads and the police on their trail. In desperation they decide to hide out in a convent until things cool down. Of course, this means they must dress up as nuns and try to pass as women of god.

    This is a very silly movie but lots of fun. There are some wonderful characters such as the lecherous priest, the grumpy old nun and the gambling and drinking nun. The dialogue is funny and witty and there is also lots of sight gags and slapstick. You have seen it all before, however, this film is done with a great sense of fun and you can tell the cast were enjoying themselves. The two leads are well cast and both do great work. The film was written and directed by Jonathan Lynn, who has gone on to build quite a comedic directing career including My Cousin Vinny & The Whole Nine Yards. He originally came to prominence as one of the writers of Yes, Minister. The story was originally written to be set in Boston but Eric Idle's influence saw the film reset in London and made by Hand Made. The music by Yello is a highlight (despite now being a bit dated), including funky electronica and jazzy instrumental music.

    If you are interested in a nostalgic comedy or remember this fondly, it is certainly worth a look on this new release.

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Transfer Quality


    The video quality is good but shows its low budget early 90s roots.

    The feature is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, 16x9 enhanced which is close to the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1.

    The picture was quite variable in sharpness with some scenes being sharper than others. Some early scenes were especially soft but none of it could be called crisp. This is somewhat due to the age of the film, of course. Shadow detail is decent. There is some occasional light grain and minor blocking. Some scenes are quite smoky in the background. I noted some minor MPEG artefacts at 7:06 during fast movement.

    The colour was pretty good, quite vibrant and well saturated for a film of this vintage. There was some light colour bleeding here and there.

    There was some mild aliasing to be seen on car grilles.

    There are no subtitles.

    There is a layer change at 67:20 which is not noticeable during playback.


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


    The audio quality is very good.

    This DVD contains three audio options (and bizarrely no setup menu), an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448 Kb/s, an English Dolby Digital 4.0 soundtrack encoded at 224 Kb/s and the audio commentary which is Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192 Kb/s. Bizarrely, the 4.0 track is the default and the 5.1 can only be selected once the movie is playing. The box only lists the 5.1 track. Both tracks have lots of surround, however, their is obviously more bass on the 5.1.

    Dialogue was generally easy to understand although it was perhaps a little low in the mix especially when the music was going.

    As I mentioned above most of the music is by Yello although there was some incidental music by Hidden Faces and songs by Steve Winwood & George Harrison. The music sounds really good on the surround tracks.

    The surround speakers are used constantly and some may argue that the surround usage is a bit over the top. Occasionally there was an effect which seemed a little out of place at the back however generally this just provides a very immersive and full bodied surround experience for a film of this age.

    The subwoofer was used for explosions, music and car chases.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use




    The menu features scenes from the film and music.

Commentary - Writer/Director Jonathan Lynn

    A high quality commentary. Lynn is informative and provides a good mixture of discussing on screen things and telling anecdotes about the production and its development. It covers technical issues, cast, he budget and cost cutting approaches, locations, George Harrison and other interesting topics. There are some small pauses but generally this is really worth your time.

Behind the Scenes Gallery (5:58)

    An automated photo gallery with commentary by Lynn. This includes some stills taken on set by a photographer including from some scenes which didn't make the final film. They are black and white. Worthwhile.

Photo Gallery

    A more tradition photo gallery of stills from the film with captions. 15 or so.

Theatrical Trailer (2:44)

    American voiceover. Shows that the transfer is really rather good for the movie itself.

Umbrella Trailers

    Trailers for four other films.


    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

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

    The other global versions are much of a muchness to this release. The Region 1 adds some cast interviews and TV spots but excludes the two galleries. The Region 2 UK version adds some cast bios but includes everything the local version has. I think it is pretty much a draw.


    A fun but slightly dated English comedy from 1990.

    The video quality is good but has some issues.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The extras are of high quality esp. the commentary.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-NS708H upscaling to 1080p, using HDMI output
DisplayLG Scarlet 42LG61YD 106cm Full HD LCD. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer

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