This second collection of Ealing Comedy
, while not quite as important a reissue as the first box
, is nonetheless essential viewing for all aficionados of classic English film. In Passport to Pimlico
a group of Londoners demonstrate, paradoxically, their Englishness by eccentrically choosing the Burgundian citizenship granted them by a rediscovered medieval charter. Similarly, in The Titfield Thunderbolt
neighbours outraged by the closing of their local branch line steal an antique locomotive from the museum and run their own railway. A similar sense of taking charge of your own life fills Hue and Cry
as a group of boys, infuriated that crooks have been using their favourite comic to send messages, summon scores of others by radio to help them track down and capture the gang.
There are shared themes here, a shared sense of the importance of eccentricity and imagination to a healthy society as well as excellent ensemble acting from casts that include Stanley Holloway, Margaret Rutherford and Sid James. The box is filled out with a television documentary about the history of Ealing Studios. It covers its early silent days, the golden age that produced the classic comedies and such important films as The Cruel Sea, its time as a BBC studio and its possible renaissance under new management.
On the DVD: Ealing Comedy presents the three films and the documentary in 1.33:1 (i.e., 4:3), and has excellent mono sound that does full justice to both dialogue and scores. The extra features include introductions to the four films in the first box set by such luminaries as Terry Gilliam and Martin Scorsese as well as DVD-ROM files of the original brochures for all seven films. --Roz Kaveney
When British Railways announces the closure of the Titfield Mallingford branch line, a group of local village residents make a bid to run it themselves