Tag Archives: dvd

I’m All Right Jack

Described as a rip-roaring and thought provoking satire, poking fun at the then-burning issue of industrial relations, I’m All Right Jack is as funny today as it has ever been thanks to the amazing restoration work from the team at Studio Canal.

by Owen Hughes (@ohughes86)

OPTBD2804_2Dpack_ImAllRightJackI’m All Right Jack is a classic British comedy film from 1959 by John and Roy Boulting, otherwise known as the Boulting brothers. Identical twins with their own production company, Charter Film Productions, John and Roy used to take it in turns with one directing and the other producing their movies. Although Roy was the most prolific at directing movies, it’s arguably John who is responsible for their most celebrated films. Brighton Rock (1947), Private’s Progress (1956) and indeed I’m All Right Jack were all directed by John.

An adaptation of an Alan Hackney novel, Private Life, Hackney would jointly adapt his book to the silver screen with noted writer and playwright Frank Harvey penning the screenplay. As well as his collaborations with the Boulting’s, he also wrote the script for the 1950’s remake of The 39 Steps. But it was for his work on I’m All Right Jack that he deservedly won his first BAFTA.

Released originally in 1959, it was the highest grossing film at the UK box office that year. It’s no surprise really, it has an extraordinary cast of British talent from the era. Names like Terry-Thomas, Richard Attenborough, Margaret Rutherford, Dennis Price, John Le Mesurier, all names that would’ve drawn audiences to the cinema. That is without even mentioning Peter Sellers, who, believe it or not, though known to many for his work on the Goon Show and other bits and bobs, was not a star like the others. It was his role as Fred Kite, the tragic-comic union leader, that won him his first BAFTA and shot him to national fame. Undeniably, he’s the best thing in it, as he was with most of his films. His comic timing is just masterful. Liz Fraser, playing his daughter and colleague at the Missiles factory (in her first film role) was nominated for a best newcomer BAFTA that same year.

The main character, upon whom the narrative is based, is Stanley Windrush, played by a charming, debonair yet naively innocent Ian Carmichael. From a well-to-do aristocratic background, he ends up being convinced to join the unskilled workforce at his uncle Bertram’s (Dennis Price) factory in order to make a living after returning from the war. Unfortunately for him, he doesn’t quite understand the politics of the playground, so to speak! After being used in a political cat and mouse game between the trade union and his uncle, the film satirises both sides of the divide.

You’ve just seen all of the awards it either won or was nominated for, and it genuinely deserved each of them. Sometimes with these old comedies, they can be a bit stale or stuffy compared to modern films which seem oh so much more sophisticated. But when you get down to it, I’m All Right Jack is actually a really well written and hilariously performed story. Yes it’s a bit hokey by today’s standards, some of the gags are very slapstick and the “wrap-around” story at the nudist colony is on the naff side of cheeky. However, the script is sharp and biting; it examines the greed and self-serving nature of those in charge as well as the flippant cloudy reasonings of some unionists, all whilst managing to amuse and remain playful. Its ultimate aim seems to be to take down both sides, and I think it does exactly that.

If you enjoy classic British comedies such as Kind Hearts & Coronets or Passport to Pimlico, then I’m sure you will enjoy this too.

I’m Alright Jack is released on digitally restored Blu-ray and DVD on 19 January. Extras include an informative and entertaining brand new Interview with Liz Fraser, a Cinefile: Seller’s Best segment and the rather surreal and goofy Academy Award nominated short The Running, Jumping & Standing Still Film, starring Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Richard Lester.

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Competition Time: Win a Copy of ‘Next Goal Wins’ on DVD

NGW-300x225In conjunction with our sister site, Born Offside, we have been given 3 copies of Next Goal Wins on DVD to give away.

The documentary tells the story of the American Samoan national team, the victims of the heaviest ever defeat in international football, 31-0 to Australia, and at one point the worst national team in the game, as they look to achieve their first ever win.

To enter just tweet @FailedCritics the answer to the following question:

In what position are American Samoa in the current FIFA World Rankings?

with the hashtag #NextGoalWins

The competition will close at 11pm on Tuesday the 2nd of September when the winners will be chosen at random.

Next Goal Wins is out on DVD to buy from Monday the 1st September.

Keep your eye on Failed Critics for an interview with the American Samoa goalkeeper Nicky Salapu. In the meantime, you can read our interview with the film’s director Steve Jamison, listen to our podcast review of Next Goal Wins, or read the written interview from back in May.

A guide to Les Mis on dvd

lesmisI wrote the obligatory Les Mis review back in January, after its (Leicester based) premiere on the big screen. Since then, I’ve been to see it more times than I went to the cinema in the whole of 2012. Which, admittedly, was only about four times. But still, what a loser.

Today it is released on DVD. No longer must you attempt discreet silent sobbing into a single Kleenex Balsam while sharing an arm rest with a stranger. Instead you can watch it the privacy of your own home, clutching a loo roll in the fetal position on your sofa, the way Victor Hugo would have wanted.

It’s about 3 hours long which, I agree, is quite a commitment. So here are my must see moments, in their painstaking, obsessive, chronological entirety.

1. Enter Colm Wilkinson (0:07:14)
The first few minutes of the film are a little disconcerting, even for a hysterical fan such as myself. I was still reeling from the fact that Hugh Jackman was Irish and Russell Crowe couldn’t sing, when suddenly Colm Wilkinson (who originated the role of Valjean in the West End AND Broadway, so he knows his shit, people) turned up as the kindly Bishop, brandishing those candlesticks, and reassured me that it was all going to be ok.

2. Fantine nods (0:16:03)
At this point she’s still part of the factory chorus. Though she stands out a mile off because she’s a) the only one wearing pink and b) Anne Hathaway. “Pay the landlord, pay the shop. Keep on working as long as you’re able.” she sings, with the steely determination of someone who knows she isn’t going to be in a job much longer. Not that job, anyway.

3. The sniff that won the Academy Award (0:29:40)
This performance is perfect for many reasons, not least because it represents the moment everyone stopped associating the song with a reality TV contestant. I Dreamed a Dream is filmed as one continuous tight shot of Hathaway’s Oscar winning face. But my favourite sniff in particular occurs here.

4. When Jackman gets it (0:37:37)
These songs have been performed on stage for 18 years. Those are some big boots to fill, and at the beginning Hugh’s shoe size waivers. But it’s in the gathering up his belongings (candlesticks, mainly) section of Who Am I? when he suddenly makes the role his own. Glancing up at the heavens during his surprisingly subtle utterance of the line “my soul belongs to God, I know, I made that bargain long ago”, he nails it.

5. Valjean stealth failure (1:00:32)
Jean Valjean is many things; world’s strongest man, Mayor, bread thief. But he certainly isn’t an expert when it comes to stealth. This is showcased earlier in the film, when he attempts to steal some silver platters from the Bishop by drop kicking them out of an open door (0:08:39). However he surpasses this moment when stumbling into the church yard, whispering “we need to disappear” and then immediately launching into song at the top of his lungs. Brilliant.

6. Size zero Eponine (1:07:45)
We get a few glimpses of Eponine mooching around in the background, batting her grubby eyelashes at Marius. But this is the first time we see a full length shot of her, and her eye watering corset. My official scientific calculations put her waist at half the size of a Cadbury Creme Egg. Or something. I couldn’t be bothered to get off the sofa to measure it.

7. Vacuous Cosette (1:08:10)
Cosette is a bit of a nothing character. Her main purpose is to sing the really high twiddly notes that no one else can hit during the group numbers. Aside from that she just stands around looking dead eyed to the point where you wonder if her bonnet isn’t tied a bit too tight. It’s kind of a testament to Amanda Seyfried that she pulled this off to perfection.

8. Marius & Enjolras walk into certain death in order to save face (1:34:48)
You know when you’re on a night out with your mates and an elaborate drunken plan is hatched to go to Blackpool for the weekend, and then the next morning you all play cancellation chicken, because you don’t want to be a spoilsport, but you really don’t want to drive to Blackpool? That’s essentially what Marius & Enjolras do at this moment.

9. The shit barricades (1:35:56)
Books rely entirely on your imagination to create a vivid picture. Theatre relies on basic set and a suspension of disbelief. Films are supposed to do all that for you. On stage, the barricades are an all singing, all dancing, revolving masterpiece. In the movie, which had a not insubstantial $61 million budget, the barricades are built from a couple of old chairs. 

10. Enjolras’s death back-flip (1:57:50)
There are multiple deaths in this movie, from the tragedy of Fantine saying goodbye to her daughter, to the exquisite crunch of Russell Crowe’s vocal chords snapping in the sea. But Enjolras hanging backwards out of the window, red flag in hand, is a wonderful chest punching nod to the theatre goers in the audience. 

11. The Shawshank Redemption homage (2:00:38)
After dragging his future son-in-law (rather than just a bag of shoes and some money laundering paperwork) through endless sewers, Jackman emerges covered head to toe in shit, save for his beady white eyes. Liquid cinema, in every sense.

12. Grandpa Marius crashes the party (2:09:21)
Alright, so they gave Marius a bit of a back story, made that sacrifice all the more poignant. And, fair enough, Grandpa and his bucket-loads money put on a pretty fancy wedding for the kids. But that does not give him the right to muscle his face into A Heart Full of Love reprise. Dude, wind your wrinkly neck in.

13. The Jackanory bit (2:10:21)
Marius is a sweet kid. When Valjean settles down to have what is obviously a serious important discussion with his new son in law, Marius reacts with an excitable grin, like he’s about to get a bedtime story.

14. The making of Marius (2:11:57)
Moments ago he was grinning like a loon. Then suddenly Marius understands that Valjean is doing a runner, and he’s going to have to pick up the slack. Never mind all that revolution nonsense, this is the moment Marius becomes a man. His voice suddenly and inexplicably breaks, and he practically growls the line “for the sake of Cosette, it must be so”. HOT.

15. Do you hear the people sing? (2:15:30)
Basically, the second the film cuts to the convent (beginning of chapter 19), it’s time to brace yourself for the big finale. It’s a stunning scene, but the bit where Valjean stands up out of the chair with Fantine (2:21:20) is particularly well done. Then the whispered singing, a proper set of barricades, and all the clapping and crying I can muster. Marvellous.

Shall we watch it again?