Half a Sixpence
Length: 145 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0
English Closed Captioned
Special Features: None
Half a Sixpence is a musical that was never a smashing success on the London or Broadway stage, and the film version failed at the box office as well. It’s too bad, really – this is an underrated musical with some strong performances, even if the plot is a bit thin. Consequently, there are many people who have never had the opportunity to see this film. Thankfully, Paramount has just released a bargain-priced DVD of this musical for all to enjoy.
Tommy Steele stars as Arthur Kipps, a grown-up orphan working as a shop assistant. Picture Oliver Twist (from the musical, Oliver!, all grown up) but only if Oliver hadn’t been rescued from the London streets.
Kipps seems to have nothing to live for when, suddenly, his childhood sweetheart shows up. It is then that Kipps inherits a fortune from his grandfather and his whole life changes. Trying to fit in among high-society types, he neglects his girl and squanders his fortune. As he hits bottom, he learns a thing or two about love and decency that he had forgotten.
Based on the H.G. Wells novel, Kipps, Half a Sixpence is a bit short on originality and plot, but makes up for it with the exuberance of star Tommy Steele. And, while a few of the musical numbers are unmemorable, there are a few standouts, as well – including Half a Sixpence, Money to Burn, and If the Rain’s Got to Fall.
Half a Sixpence is brought to you in enhanced widescreen – 2.35:1. Aside from intentional soft focus effects occasionally used, the picture is nice and sharp with no distracting sharpening artifacts. The image has good detail and excellent color by Technicolor. You’ll find good contrast and good shadow detail, as well. Grain is almost non-existent, but you will see an occasional speck of dust. This is a fine transfer, visually.
There is a 2 channel Dolby Surround track that delivers impressive directional cues and effects. The front soundstage is expansive, with use of rear channels for ambience only. The music strains against limited frequency response, making me wish for a clearer sound – but it isn’t bad for the era – a limitation of the original elements. High frequencies are a bit lacking, giving a very slightly muddy effect. Lower frequencies fare better. Dialog is always clear and intelligible. Audiophiles judging by today’s standards may be disappointed, but for a 35 year old film, it fares pretty well.
There are no special features.
If you like musicals and you’re not familiar with Half a Sixpence, this is worth checking out. Suggested retail price is $14.99 USD, but you’ll probably see this in bargain bins at under $10. At that price, this is a steal.