Hue and Cry (1947)
|Year Of Production||1947|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Charles Crichton|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.37:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
There was something indefinably special, quintessentially British about Ealing Studios. Elstree may have had the Star Wars movies, Pinewood the Bond movies and Twickenham the Beatles films but Ealing spoke to the masses with a run of films from the 40s through to the 50s that continue to be loved to this day. Of course, it is wrong to speak about Ealing as if it were the dear departed as the studio is still used for filmmaking (Notting Hill, Shaun of the Dead). The "Ealing Comedies" as they came to be known not only defined the post-war British spirit but made household names of some of the stars including Sir Alec Guinness, Margaret Rutherford and Stanley Holloway.
Hue and Cry from 1947 is no match for the classic Ealing Comedies - Kind Hearts and Coronets, Passport to Pimlico, The Lavender Hill Mob and The Ladykillers. But it does have the distinction as being generally regarded as the first of the Ealing Comedies.
The plot of this film could be taken straight from the pages of Trump Magazine, the children's weekly that forms the backbone of the story. 15 years old Joe Kirby (Harry Fowler) hangs with a bunch of mates in the bombed out buildings of London’s East End. He is not a bad lad but his overactive imagination gets him into trouble with the law. Joe sees a connection between a serialized story in the Trump and a car on the street, believing he has stumbled onto a crime. He breaks into a fur shop to investigate the crime and is promptly caught. Luckily, seemingly kindly detective Nightingale (Jack Warner) gets him out of the scrape and a chastened Joe knuckles down into a job.
Still, he can't get past the feeling that something is up and comes to realize that the criminals are using the story, a dashing detective serial, to transmit secret codes as to their next heist. Visiting the author, a cowardly custard Alistair Sim, he forms his own plan to be executed by him and his gang of boys (including a tomboy Clarry Joan Dowling). But is Joe too smart for his own good and who, if anyone, can be trusted?
Hue and Cry was directed by Charles Crichton, who turned out a series of the classic Ealing Comedies then had a late success at the ripe old age of 78 with the huge hit comedy A Fish Called Wanda. The film came from a script from Ealing regular (and Oscar winner for The Lavender Hill Mob) T.E.B. Clarke Although billed as the first Ealing Comedy the film is really a Boys Own adventure story complete with kids both in peril and outwitting the crooks. The gloriously lugubrious Alistair Sim(“Oh, how I loathe adventurous minded boys!") plays a small but very memorable part whereas Jack Warner gets the main adult role. The boys and girl are a likeable bunch and do their parts well without self-consciously acting.
Perhaps another reason to get the film is to see London in the post war period; there are genuine bombed out locales and a skyline that is recognizable yet foreign.
A fun adventure Hue and Cry may suit best those who grew up in the era and remember playing in the rubble of post-war London. Completists may also be surprised at the good natured quality of this early Ealing flick.
Hue and Cry was shot in Black and White using 35mm film. The original aspect ratio was 1.37:1. This film comes to DVD in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio which is not 16x9 enhanced.
It takes a little adjusting to get used to the picture quality of the film. Having been spoilt recently by lavish restorations it is a little disappointing to see a film that so obviously shows its age. That is no criticism of the distributor. It is difficult to imagine that the audience for this film would be so wide as to justify a frame by frame restoration.
So where to begin? A juddery telecine, artefacts both positive and negative including some sprockets visible. A bit of flicker though no apparent missing frames. That's about it. The grain is consistent and acceptable.
On the positives the film is pretty sharp and the cinematography of Douglas Slocombe (who shot not only the classic Ealing Comedies but went on to become one of the most respected cinematographers in Hollywood with Rollerball, Julia and the Indiana Jones trilogy to his name) is shown to good effect, particularly in a staircase scene which is noirish in its lighting and shadows. The short runtime means that compression is no issue even on a single layered DVD.
There are no subtitles.
The mono sound mix for Hue and Cry runs at 192Kb/s. It has been enhanced by Dolby Digital but is otherwise pretty much as it would have been in 1947.
That is not such a bad thing. The sound is surprisingly crisp and clear for its age and the dialogue is clear and easy to understand. The actors appear in audio sync. There are a few pops and crackles but no annoying hiss.
Music by George Auric, who composed scores for Jean Cocteau including La Belle a la Bete. He contributes a score which is both stirring and sprightly conveying the can-do spirit of the lads.
|Surround Channel Use|
There are no extras.
The film appears to be only available overseas in a triple set. Buy the Region 4.
Hue and Cry is no masterpiece but it is a lot of fun and it slips by so swiftly that it hardly registers on the clock. The picture and sound quality are exactly what you would expect from an unrestored 1947 film. The film is priced under $20 which may explain the bare bones status but I am sure there must be an Ealing documentary floating around the BBC which could have found its way onto the DVD.
|DVD||Cambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output|
|Display||Sony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Pioneer SC-LX 81 7.1|
|Speakers||Aaron ATS-5 7.1|