The Morecambe & Wise Collection
brings together the total cinematic oeuvre of Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise: The Intelligence Men
(1965), That Riviera Touch
(1966) and The Magnificent Two
(1967). Though intermittently amusing, they serve mostly to confirm that Morecambe & Wise did the smart thing in devoting the majority of their career to television sketch show. Their comedy was most potent in small doses.
The Intelligence Men is an obvious but likeable parody of the early Bond films and sets the pattern for all three films: Eric and Ernie as two well-meaning blunderers cast into an unfamiliar milieu (in this case, international espionage) and forced to survive armed with little more than a repertoire of wince-inducing puns.
That Riviera Touch is an obvious but likeable parody of the heist genre. Again, Eric and Ernie are cast as hapless ingénues, in this case a pair of traffic wardens whose holiday in France intersects with the plottings of a gang of jewel thieves. If anything, its even more contrived than that sounds, but the scenes in which Eric cleans out the casino by accident are wonderfully understated, and a reminder of a peerless comic actor.
The Magnificent Two, the final and by some distance the least funny of the three, is an updated though rather laboured subversion of the Spaghetti Western, relying rather too much on the notion that anything and everything to do with foreigners is inherently hilarious.
On the DVD: The Morecambe & Wise Collection has English subtitles for all three discs and all include the original cinematic trailer. That Riviera Touch is presented in 4:3 format, the remaining two in 16:9. As special features go, these are annoyingly desultory for a release that will certainly only be purchased by die-hard fans. It wouldnt have killed the producers to commission some liner notes at the very least.--Andrew Mueller
Box set featuring all three of Eric and Ernie's big screen adventures. In 'The Intelligence Men' (1965) Eric helps secret agent Ernie to protect Russian ballerina Madame Petrovna when her life is placed in danger. In 'That Riviera Touch' (1966) the pair travel to the Riviera, where they become mixed up with jewel thieves while attempting to romance the beautiful Claudette. In 'The Magnificent Two' (1967) the boys visit Latin America, where Eric is persuaded by a latin beauty to impersonate a dead rebel leader.