HTF REVIEW: "The Alec Guinness Collection" (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Sep 10, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    [​IMG]

    The Alec Guinness Collection




    Studio: Anchor Bay
    Year: 2002
    Rated: NR
    Film Length: 451 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: Full Frame
    Subtitles: NONE (Closed Captioned)



    Sir Alec Guinness was a man of many parts. This
    British actor, famous for the variety and excellence
    of his stage and screen characterizations had a
    distinctive modulated baritone voice, but was an
    actor who never played himself.
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    Anchor Bay celebrates the career of Alec Guinness
    by releasing The Alec Guinness Collection,
    which reflects the films of the Ealing Studio
    comedies of the late 1940s and the 1950s, where
    Guinness first made his mark in films.
    [​IMG]
    The set arrives in a rather flimsy outer cardboard
    case that features two wonderful color photos of
    Guinness on each side. Inside are five DVD titles
    that include: Kind Hearts And Coronets, The Man
    In The White Suit, The Lavender Hill Mob, The
    Ladykillers
    and exclusive to this box set, The
    Captain's Paradise
    .
    I must admit, the first time I ever became aware
    of Alec Guinness was his role as the Butler in
    Murder By Death. From there I saw him
    again as Jedi knight Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star
    Wars
    . It was actually these films that
    introduced this legendary actor to a generation
    that knew little about him. In fact, I had a lot
    of catching up to do myself. It was only a year
    ago that I first saw Bridge On The River Kwai
    and Lawrence Of Arabia.
    When this set arrived on my doorsetep a week ago,
    I was in the midst of reviewing a slew of other
    titles. I made it a point, however, to put this
    box set on my list of titles to review because I
    felt it was essential that I got to know more about
    the man who left behind a rich film legacy.
    I took the opportunity to view three of the five
    titles contained in this set.
    [​IMG]

    Kind Hearts And Coronets




    Studio: Anchor Bay
    Year: 1949
    Rated: NR
    Film Length: 106 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: Full Frame
    Subtitles: NONE (Closed Captioned)



    [​IMG][​IMG]
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    Perhaps the best loved of all of Guinness's early
    films, this is the story of a man named Louis
    Mazzini (Dennis Price) whose mother belonged to
    an aristocratic family, the D'Ascoynes, but was
    disowned by the family for running off with an
    opera singer. As an adult he decided to avenge
    himself and her by becoming a Duke, and the only
    way to reach his goal is to murder every other
    potential successor -- eight in total -- all
    played by Alec Guinness.
    Though filled with extremely dry British humor,
    I found the film to be exceptional -- especially
    in the fact that it took an outrageous plot and
    made it all seem so credible. Watching the
    chameloen Guinness slip into so many different
    roles made this film even more delightful.
    How is the transfer?
    For the most part, this transfer looks good.
    I really have no idea what the source material
    originally looked like, but the transfer lacks
    crispness with its B&W images looking slightly on
    the faded side. There is also a slight problem
    with the day lit scenes that show a reasonable
    amount of film grain beneath its surface. There
    also a fair share of film nicks and scratches
    throughout.
    The mono sound comes across acceptably but rather
    shrill, almost sounding overmodulated. It's
    nothing less than I expect from a film of this
    period. Fortunately, there is no background hiss
    present even when turning the volume up to higher
    levels.
    Naturally, this being an Anchor Bay release, there
    are no subtitles to be had. I don't want to get
    into this argument again, but the black closed
    captioning bars are an annoyance compared to having
    subtitles.
    Special Features
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    In addition to the film's original theatrical
    trailer, there is a Bio of Sir Alec Guinness.
    At first I was anticipating a featurette documentary
    and was saddened to find that this was only pages
    of text instead. The bio is a very interesting
    read, however, taking us from his birth in 1914
    through his early film career at Ealing Studios,
    to his powerful films that earned him Academy
    Awards, right on up through Star Wars and
    his death in 2000.
    A rather nice collector's booklet featuring
    original publicity art is tucked inside the case.
    Final Thoughts
    Kind Hearts and Coronets, is a showcase of
    Guinness characters that feature exquisite
    performances from its entire cast.
    Even if you don't wish to buy the set, this is
    available as a single DVD and well worth the purchase.
    Star Wars Coincidence: Watch for a line where
    the Parson says to Louis, "The Port is with you".
    Release Date: Now
    [​IMG]

    The Lavender Hill Mob




    Studio: Anchor Bay
    Year: 1951
    Rated: NR
    Film Length: 81 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: Full Frame
    Subtitles: NONE (Closed Captioned)



    [​IMG][​IMG]
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    Bravo! What fun!
    While exploring the early film career of Alec
    Guinness, nothing could have entertained me more
    than The Lavender Hill Mob, a quaint and
    pleasantly amoral British comedy.
    Holland, is a shy retiring man who dreams of
    being rich and living the good life. He spends
    his spare time reading gangster novels to his
    landlady in the evening, and by day he supervises
    the transfer of gold bullions from his bank.
    A chance meeting with novelty gift manufacturer
    Pendlebury (Stanley Holloway) spawns a plan to
    conduct a gold bullion robbery and to sneak the
    loot out of the country disguised as Eiffel Towers.
    Within a day, both men put together a gang and
    set forth one of the most daring robberies that
    lead to some hilarious and unexpected surprises.
    I cannot tell you how much I was surprised by
    and enjoyed this gentle, terrific comedy that
    plays along oh so cleverly. The dizzying chase
    scene through Paris's Eiffel Tower is worth the
    price of this DVD alone.
    This film won Alec Guinness his first Oscar
    nomination as Best Actor as well as winning the
    1951 Academy Award for Best Screenplay.
    Oh...Watch for a brief walk-on of a 22-year old
    Audrey Hepburn.
    How is the transfer?
    As with Kind Hearts And Coronets, the
    transfer lacks the kind of crispness that good
    B&W transfers can offer. Still, picture looks
    reasonably fine except for a noticeable amount
    of film grain that shows up in the brightly lit
    scenes. There is also a fair share of nicks and
    scratches throughout.
    The mono sound comes across acceptably but rather
    shrill, almost sounding overmodulated. It's
    nothing less than I expect from a film of this
    period. Fortunately, there is no background hiss
    present even when turning the volume up to higher
    levels.
    Special Features
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    In addition to the film's original theatrical
    trailer, we get the same Bio of Sir Alec
    Guinness that is featured on all of the DVDs in
    this series. The bio is a very interesting
    taking us from his birth in 1914 through his
    early film career at Ealing Studios, to his powerful
    films that earned him Academy Awards, right on up
    through Star Wars and his death in 2000.
    A rather nice collector's booklet featuring
    original publicity art is tucked inside the case.
    Final Thoughts
    This is an absolute must buy for any Guinness fan.
    This is one of Ealing's most joyous comedies, with
    an Oscar-winning script and perfect performances.
    Star Wars Coincidence: The license plate
    of the car that Holland reports is following the
    armored vehicle is none other than THX 375.
    Release Date: NOW
    [​IMG]

    The Man In The White Suit




    Studio: Anchor Bay
    Year: 1951
    Rated: NR
    Film Length: 85 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: Full Frame
    Subtitles: NONE (Closed Captioned)



    [​IMG][​IMG]
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    Sidney Stratton (Alec Guinness) is an eccentric
    chemist who lives in poverty and obscurity, taking
    on meaninglesses jobs that barely pay a cent, all
    so that he can complete his research and present a
    polymeric fiber with infinite strength and infinite
    molecular weight. The fiber resists all dirt, but
    also can not be dyed; thus it can only be made into
    a white suit.
    With inventions of genius always come problems. In
    this case, the labor union realizes that if Sidney's
    everlasting fabric is put to market, the entire
    industry will be put out of work. Sidney suddenly
    becomes the most hunted man, trapped between big
    business and the angry unions.
    This is yet another Alec Guiness discovery that
    has given me so much more respect for the actor's
    talents as he shows marvelous restraint that gives
    away to brief hysteria. The writing was nominated
    by the Academy for Best Screenplay.
    How is the transfer?
    Actually, out of the three movies I have reviewed
    from this set, The Man In The White Suit
    looks the best. The image quality is slightly
    sharper and more detailed, and that annoying grain
    that is evident in the other two releases is not
    evident here, resulting in a smoother transfer.
    The mono sound also is less shrill than the other
    two titles I have reviewed, not sounding overmodulated
    at all. There is no background hiss present even
    at higher volume level.
    Special Features
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    In addition to the film's original theatrical
    trailer, we get the same Bio of Sir Alec
    Guinness that is featured on all of the DVDs in
    this series. The bio is a very interesting
    taking us from his birth in 1914 through his
    early film career at Ealing Studios, to his powerful
    films that earned him Academy Awards, right on up
    through Star Wars and his death in 2000.
    A rather nice collector's booklet featuring
    original publicity art is tucked inside the case.
    Final Thoughts
    Another perfect performance by Alec Guinness as
    a bewildered inventor at the center of an uprising.
    As with all of his films I have seen today, the
    real genius of Alec Guinness comes in his reactions
    to the situations around him. Chaos seems to be
    his best environment.
    Release Date: NOW
    Final Thoughts on The Alec Guinness Collection
    Anyone who is unfamiliar with Sir Alec Guinness,
    wishing to take an in-depth look at his early film
    career should look no further than this box set.
    To be honest, I knew very little about this man's
    early career. Now having watched these three
    titles, I am truly a fan and have come to appreciate
    the fact that his roles are to be slowly savored like
    a fine wine. Having savored much this morning, I
    am already drunk with giddiness.
    I consider this collection to be one of the most
    prized in my library. The entire set of 5 films
    costs under $42 and each DVD sells for less than
    $14 on-line. Do not hesitate to purchase these
    DVD titles either singularly or as a set.
     
  2. Randy A Salas

    Randy A Salas Screenwriter

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  3. Rain

    Rain Producer

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    Oh, and Ron, you have a little typo.
    You have the heading for Kind Hearts and Coronets duplicated above the review for The Lavender Hill Mob.
    Other than that, great review. I've been looking forward to this set to get myself acquainted with Guiness's early comedies. Should go nicely with Criterion's release of The Horse's Mouth. [​IMG]
     
  4. Bleddyn Williams

    Bleddyn Williams Supporting Actor

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    Thanks a lot Ron, for finally giving us an advance look at these discs.
    Its been a bit of a mystery how these titles seem to have generated little interest. Even Anchor Bay's website missed an entry for the actual collection until recently!
    With my copy shipping from DDD, there's no way I'll get mine until next week. Thanks again for such a close and detailed look at the discs! It will tide me over till next week....[​IMG]
     
  5. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    Rain,

    Tahnks for the alert on the typo. I updated
    the review. This is what happens when I work
    with templates.
     
  6. Randy_M

    Randy_M Supporting Actor

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    As one who has known these films for years, you can imagine my anticipation when I got the box this week.

    Thanks Anchor Bay!
     
  7. Neil White

    Neil White Supporting Actor

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    Thanks for the reviews Ron.

    I'm eagerly awaiting my set to ship. I have very fond memories of watching The Ladykillers and The Man In The White Suit when I was a kid back home in England.

    Guinness and Ealing were a match made in heaven in my opinion.

    N
     
  8. John Watson

    John Watson Screenwriter

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    I can't remember how the trouble in Tha Captain's Paradise gets resolved, so it looks like I need the box set!

    In times of trouble, a good old comedy works for me.
     
  9. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

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    Ron, I'm glad you enjoyed these classics! Can't wait for my set to arrive. Since you liked these Guinness titles, you might want to check out the aforementioned The Horse's Mouth. [​IMG]
     
  10. Daniel J

    Daniel J Stunt Coordinator

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    "Cha-Ching" said the cash register... or not, I suppose; it's more of a "bweeep-Bweeeeowweeeowweepweepweep" these days...

    My only dissapointment is that the set is missing "A Run for your Money"; another Ealing production. Though Guinness only plays a supporting role (as the writer of a gardening column sucker into doing a human interest article about the main characters); the story of "how two Welsh Wales went to town" is delightfully down-to-earth story about Welsh miners who win a trip to London and get dreadfully lost. A real gem.

    But this set is worthwhile regardless; If you've ever wondered why the called him "Sir" Alec, this is as good of an explaination as any.
     

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