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The Chiltern Hundreds [DVD]

4.1 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Cecil Parker, A.E. Matthews, David Tomlinson, Marjorie Fielding, Joyce Carey
  • Directors: John Paddy Carstairs
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: Network
  • DVD Release Date: 5 May 2014
  • Run Time: 91 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00I07Q38S
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 23,901 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

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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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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A richly-entertaining satire, “The Chiltern Hundreds” began it life as a play (The Play that Made a Million People Laugh) in 1947 by William Douglas Home. A politician himself as well as playwright, he was a brother to British prime minister Sir Alec Douglas-Home.

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.
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Adapted for the screen from the play by William Douglas Home, this is a satirical look at the British electoral system, and in particular the class divisions (and hypocrisies) of the time. Featuring a fine cast, including the twitchily subversive Cecil Parker, the amiably crusty AE Matthews and a youthful David Tomlinson, the story never quite seems to know how serious to get, with the consequence that it loses its nerve somewhat at times and resorts to a few half-hearted set-ups, but there is a nice structure to the action and a fittingly cynical finale. With a nice clean print and good sound, this is an entertaining little film that is well worth watching.
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I saw this film at least twice about 60 + years ago and loved it. Unfortunately it doesn't stand the test of time and I suppose why should it! I still laughed at the brilliantly eccentric A E Matthews Glad I watched it though,
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Based on comedy play written by William Douglas Home, brother of the later Conservative Prime Minister, The Chiltern Hundreds is one of those comedies that was successful in its time but has not aged that well.

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.
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I love Cecil Parker. A nice role reversal from a bumbling authority figure to a bumbling Butler.
Nice to see how they did politics in them halcyon days. Quaint.
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Great to have this finally on DVD. Picture quality is fine, however the sound as others have noted, is rather poor.
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Dated but amusing illustrating an England that has 'gone with the wind'. Fine cast top production values and top old fashioned entertainment.
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These old films are just great, so pleased that more are being released. No swearing or violence, just enjoyable, light hearted watching.
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