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The Terence Rattigan Collection [DVD]

4.4 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Sean Connery, Michael Gambon, Eric Porter, Colin Firth, Penelope Wilton
  • Directors: Alvin Rakoff, Hal Burton, Karel Reisz
  • Writers: Terence Rattigan
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 5
  • Classification: 12
  • Studio: 2 Entertain Video
  • DVD Release Date: 4 July 2011
  • Run Time: 792 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004VRL4DK
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 27,633 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

In his centenary year, the genius of playwright Terence Rattigan is at last being recognised and The Terence Rattigan Collection is an invaluable compendium of his finest work, performed by some outstanding casts.

Rattigan had a profound understanding of the human heart in all its complexity. He is the master of an emotional restraint which gives his work its unforgettable power and attracts, in this collection, star actors of the calibre of Sean Connery and Colin Firth, Penelope Wilton and Judi Dench, Ian Holm and Michael Gambon, Eric Porter and Geraldine McEwan. Among the plays included on this DVD are The Deep Blue Sea in which Hester Collyer sacrifices everything for a younger man who cannot return her love and The Browning Version in which a schoolmaster's emotional shell is cracked by an unexpected act of kindness.

In The Terence Rattigan Collection, great acting and great story-telling combine to make compulsive viewing.

Disc One

Heart to Heart (The Largest Theatre in The World)
The first in the “Largest Theatre in the World” series of plays, Heart to Heart centres around a TV interviewer determined to get a coup on a dodgy cabinet minister. Starring Kenneth More, Ralph Richardson, Derek Francis. Directed by Alvin Rakoff
Originally broadcast December 6, 1962.
Approx. 115 minutes

All On Her Own (A Touch of Venus)
Rosemary returns from a party to the empty Hampstead house where she has lived since the death of her husband, but was his overdose of sleeping pills purely accidental? She is going to try to find out.
Starring Margaret Leighton, Nora Gordon
Directed by Hal Burton
Originally broadcast September 25, 1968.
Approx. 19 minutes
NB: A series of 13 monologues for famous actresses.
BBC archive only shows All On Her Own

Disc Two
Separate Tables (BBC Play of the Month)
Loneliness, desire and repression are explored in the setting of a Bournemouth Hotel.
Starring Geraldine McEwan, Eric Porter, Annette Crosbie, Robert Harris, Hazel Hughes, Pauline Jameson, Cathleen Nesbitt
Originally broadcast March 15, 1970.
Approx. 93 minutes

French Without Tears (BBC Play of the Month)

The comic, sometimes painful, fallings-out of five young male English students at a residential language cramming establishment in France.
Starring Nicola Pagett, Michael Gambon, Anthony Andrews, Barbara Kellermann, Nigel Havers, Tom Woodward
Originally broadcast May 16, 1976.
Approx. 94 minutes

Disc Three
The Winslow Boy (BBC Play of the Month)
The term at Osborne Naval College is not yet over. Why, therefore, has cadet Ronnie Winslow returned home? And why, moreover, is he hiding in the garden in the rain?
Starring Alan Badel, Eric Porter
Directed by David Giles
Originally broadcast January 16, 1977.
Approx. 112 minutes

The Browning Version
Andrew Crocker-Harris is an aging classics master at a British public school with only a few days left in his career but who is suddenly forced to confront his own life’s failures.
Starring Judi Dench, Michael Kitchen, John Woodvine, Ian Holm
Directed by Michael A. Simpson
Originally broadcast December 31, 1985.
Approx. 74 minutes

Disc Four
After The Dance (Performance)
Set in the Mayfair Flat of a high living, hard drinking writer in 1938 this truthful play attacks the moral vacuity of the ‘bright young things’ unknowingly poised on the brink of war.
Starring Anton Rogers, Gemma Jones, Imogen Stubbs
Directed by Stuart Burge
Originally broadcast December 5, 1992.
Approx. 112 minutes

The Deep Blue Sea (Performance)
Middle-aged Hester Collyer suffers the dramatic personal consequences of a passionate affair with a young, ex-RAF pilot named Freddie Page.
Starring Colin Firth, Ian Holm, Carmel McSharry, Wojtek Pszoniak, Stephen Tomkinson, Edward Tudor-Pole, Penelope Wilton
Directed by Karel Reisz
Originally broadcast November 12, 1994.
Approx. 99 minutes

Disc Five
Adventure Story (BBC Sunday Night Theatre)
Rattigan’s own dramatic study of Alexander the Great. Starring Sean Connery, Margaretta Scott
Directed by Karel Reisz
Originally broadcast June 12, 1961.
Approx. 110 minutes

Special Features

  • Separate Tables at The Apollo: John Mills and Jill Bennett in a scene from Act 2 of Separate Tables at the Apollo Theatre.
  • Cause Célèbre at Her Majesty’s Theatre: Two extracts from Terence Rattigan's play Cause Célèbre, starring Glynis John, Neil Daglish, Charles Dore, Philip Bowen and Lee Montague. This was shot during a theatre preview at Her Majesty’s Theatre.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This five-disc set of BBC TV productions of Terence Rattigan's plays, issued in the year of the centenary of his birth, is a timely tribute to a dramatist who suffered a serious neglect during the period when the New Wave in English drama was at its height. Recently, a number of professional revivals of his plays have restored his reputation. Arguably, his finest plays are the two on Disc 3 of this set : The Winslow Boy and The Browning Version. In the former Eric Porter excels as a family head who seeks to have his naval cadet son exonerated from the charge of stealing a postal order; in the latter Ian Holm is equally impressive as an ageing schoolmaster who has to come to terms with the failure of both his career and his marriage. These are plays in which Rattigan is at his best in laying bare deep emotional and psychological strains in his principal characters within a skilful dramatic framework. Also highly commendable is one of the two plays that make up Separate Tables, set in a genteel hotel in Bournemouth : a bogus Major (another fine performance by Eric Porter) has a guilty secret which becomes known to the other residents and prompts a campaign amongst some of them to have him evicted. Not all the plays reach this standard : French Without Tears, for example, which was Rattigan's first great West End success, now appears distinctly flimsy, its would-be sophisticated comedy exchanges no longer very compelling. There is much else of interest in the set (including a young Sean Connery as a splendidly virile Alexander the Great in the ambitious but flawed Adventure Story). Al Senter contributes an excellent introductory essay on the dramatist.
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Sir Terence's Centenary has been marked by high calibre theatrical revivals of FLARE PATH and CAUSE CELEBRE, and a BBC Radio season of both new and vintage productions.Now comes this Collection drawn from BBC Television Rattigans broadcast over forty years: it is both interesting and inconsistent,what is good being outstanding and where there are failings, they are surprisingly intriguing.
HEART TO HEART and ALL ON HER OWN were commissions, the latter a monologue for Rattigan's favourite actress Margaret Leighton, and demonstrate the esteem in which the single drama was once held.
ADVENTURE STORY appears to have been taped from a live performance, so the acting is somewhat stagy, but after a fashion that suits the material: Sean Connery as Alexander the Great, what more need be said?
In SEPARATE TABLES Eric Porter and Geraldine McEwan splendidly follow the tradition of adopting dual roles with excellent support from Pauline Jameson, Cathleen Nesbitt and Annette Crosbie.
FRENCH WITHOUT TEARS is beautifully played by a fine cast, but suffers rather in that it is a piece which needs a live audience.
Alan Badel's low-key interpretation of Sir Robert Morton in THE WINSLOW BOY lends it a rather strange atmosphere, some dynamic is lacking, but Eric Porter is most effective as Arthur Winslow.
AFTER THE DANCE authentically captures the demimondaines of the inter-war period, and is only slightly marred by the camera exposing the leading players as a tad too old for their parts.
The surprises, not altogether pleasant, begin with THE BROWNING VERSION. The essence of Mr Crocker-Harris eludes Ian Holm, and as his wife Judi Dench seems to have thought she was in an episode of MARPLE, playing the eventual murder victim, so egregiously unpleasant that she deserves what she gets.
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Having seen only a few of the Rattigan's more famous plays: The Browning Version; The Winslow Boy and The Deep Blue Sea, I was pleased to get this comprehensive collection. The centenary of his birth will, I hope, trigger an renaissance of his popularity for, as this collection illustrates, he is a masterly and thought-provoking playwright. It's a salutary reminder of how TV schedules have changed in that most of the plays in this collection were broadcast by the BBC. Some of the plays were recorded over 40 years ago and, inevitably, the picture and sound quality are poor by today's standards but the content is so good you soon don't notice the technical inadequacies.

The cast lists are like the Who's Who of British film and theatre. The standard of acting is outstanding and several of the performances left me feeling deeply moved. Eric Porter stands out for me playing two very different parts in Separate Tables and as the father in The Winslow Boy. There's a short clip from a stage version of Separate Tables with John Mills in the same role as Eric Porter in the TV production and it's interesting to compare the different styles of performance. Penelope Wilton is heart-breaking as the wife in The Deep Blue Sea and Ian Holm is perfect as the buttoned-up school teacher in The Browning Version: stiff and formal, but one for whom one feels great sympathy.

The only play that I didn't think much of is Adventure Story Rattigan's play about Alexander the Great. I found the dialogue clunky and I'm sorry to say I couldn't take Sean Connery seriously as Alexander. He looked good but somehow his characteristic Scottish accent didn't chime with the part (as a Scot I'm not being xenophobic!).
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