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The Chiltern Hundreds [DVD]
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Few actors could be better suited than David Tomlinson for the role of a doltish viscount unintentionally entangled in politics, and this brisk 1949 satire was a huge success both for the accomplished character player and his similarly gifted co-stars, Cecil Parker and eighty-year-old film veteran A.E. Matthews. The Chiltern Hundreds is directed by John Paddy Carstairs - whose later career encompassed a string of box-office hits with the likes of Frankie Howerd, Norman Wisdom and Tommy Steele - and is presented here in a brand-new transfer from the original film elements.
Young Viscount Tony Pym wangles National Service leave on the pretext of standing as a Tory candidate for a local seat held by his family for generations. The request is a ruse to enable Pym to marry his wealthy American fiancée while she's still in England, but his masterplan backfires when he finds himself swept into an election campaign and beaten by Labour's Mr Cleghorn - who is then made a peer. In an attempt to save face, Pym decides to stand again - as a socialist. It all proves too much for the Pyms' loyal, true-blue butler, Mr Beecham...
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Top Customer Reviews
As a film, it appeared in 1949, with several of the original cast reprising their roles. It gently mocks many things English: odd electoral systems, class divisions, maintaining stately homes, and garden parties. Involved in all of them is Lord Lister (A E Matthews), a classic British eccentric who claims “all my family are absent-minded, except me” and takes pot shots through the French windows at the rabbits that threaten to overrun the estate.
This DVD transfer is from a nice clear print, but the sound is none too clear and there are no sub-texts.
The subjects of its satire are still very recognisable - politics and class in particular - and the well-plotted farce is almost calling out for an updated version. That's because of the great weakness at the heart of the film to modern eyes: the female characters. Scheming, fickle and with an ambition for their lives set just on getting a good husband, two of the central female characters now feel (thankfully) horribly dated, but also so implausible that it drags down the plot.
If you're a film or a politics buff, then its a period piece with enough charm and interest to watch as a fictional constituency goes through repeated elections triggered by shifting romantic arrangements.
The picture quality is good, but the sound quality less so - and unfortunately there are no subtitles.
Nice to see how they did politics in them halcyon days. Quaint.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Really enjoyable film. A.E. Matthews is excellent, the highlight of the film.Published 1 month ago by fat albert
Very enjoyable vintage film only quibble is the sound which was very low had to turn my tv up quite alot.Published 4 months ago by Leila