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Mr. David Rayner "David Rayner" (STOKE-ON-TRENT, STAFFORDSHIRE United Kingdom)

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Look at Life: Volume One - Transport [DVD]
Look at Life: Volume One - Transport [DVD]
Dvd ~ Tim Turner
Price: £23.92

46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful nostalgia treat from the days when we really had a British film industry!, 29 Mar. 2010
Well, I received this on Saturday and have just finished watching it. The verdict: Brilliant! The 56 films (averaging nine minutes each in running time) on this 4-disc set are only approximately one tenth of the 500 "Look at Life" films made by The Rank Organisation in the ten years between 1959 and 1969 and which average out at around nine minutes each. But they are all of equal high quality in both image and sound and, of course, interest value, so that if you like one of them, you will like them all. Originally filmed in Eastman Colour, they have all been carefully restored and remastered for the highest picture and sound quality and look brand new.

The films here all have a common theme of air; rail and road transport and maybe it would have been a better idea to have them all varied subjects instead, but no matter. They are great film documents of social history and are very interesting indeed. The fact stated on the back of the DVD cover that they were made to be shown in Rank's Odeon and Gaumont cinemas is true, but only half true, for they were also shown in most other cinemas around the country, including the Essoldo circuit and other cinema chains and independent cinemas...although I don't think that the ABC circuit ever screened them. I certainly ran them regularly at the Plaza, Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent, during my years there as a projectionist. Despite the high price of the set (originally priced at £50), which is justified in this case, I highly recommend it. Well done, Network. Now here's hoping we have a volume two on the way featuring "For The Record" from 1961, with Helen Shapiro recording "Walking Back To Happiness" under the direction of Norrie Paramor in Studio 2 at EMI's Abbey Road Studios in London.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 22, 2013 11:40 PM GMT

Boy Dominic - The Complete Series [DVD] [1974]
Boy Dominic - The Complete Series [DVD] [1974]
Dvd ~ Murray Dale
Price: £13.58

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Boy Dominic, a classic television series from the early 1970's. Just Wonderful!, 8 Mar. 2010
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THE DVD SET: I'm pleased to say that the long awaited (by me) Network 2-disc set of the first series of Boy Dominic, made in 1973 and first transmitted on Sunday, March 24th, 1974, arrived at my address this morning from amazon UK. The menu designs are beautiful and there's an extensive image gallery on Disc One. Picture and sound quality are excellent, considering the age of the videotape it was transferred from (nearly 37 years). There is a synopsis for each of the 13 episodes on the inside of the DVD cover and Network's presentation of this classic series is also excellent. I highly recommend it.

THE PROGRAMME: Boy Dominic was a superior Yorkshire Television children's drama series in colour with a distinguished cast of adult actors telling a tale of riches to rags of the Bulman family and in particular young Dominic, played by 12 years old Murray Dale, the son of 'Carry On' stalwart Jim Dale, in only his second professional engagement. This first series, that ran for 13 weekly episodes of approximately 25 minutes each, was made in 1973 and began transmission on Sunday, March 24th, 1974 on the ITV network. The setting for Boy Dominic was Yorkshire in the year 1820 and the realisation that the well-to-do Bullman family were about to have their world torn apart when the head of their family, Captain Charles Bulman (Richard Todd) loses his ship - The Bright Star - off the north coast of Africa. With no word of the fate of his father and no income, Dominic and his mother, Emma (Hildegard Neil) are forced to sell their Greenwich home.

Together they travel to Yorkshire and throw themselves on the mercy of Charles' mother, the embittered Lady Bulman (Mary Morris), who turns them away as money grabbers. With nowhere else to go, they throw in their lot with an old seafaring friend of Charles, a drunken old salt by the name of William Woodcock (Brian Blessed). Together they open a guesthouse catering for patrons from all walks of life and of var0)ying notoriety.

Events take a turn when Charles Bulman suddenly returns to England having survived shipwreck, slavery and prison to seek revenge on those who sabotaged his vessel (Julian Glover and Ivor Dean).

As far as this first series was concerned, I thought that the then 12 years old Murray Dale was very beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, with his long, unisex fair hair, that if he had worn a dress, he could have passed for a girl. But this was a common trait of early 1970's boys, whether child actors or not and was quite a common place thing at the time, The "look" of Murray Dale and a lot of other young boys at that time was known, for obvious reasons, as "The Girly-Boy Look." His acting in Boy Dominic is excellent, as are all the other members of the cast and he practically carries each mean achievement for a boy of his age. Because of this, each individual episode in the series holds the viewers attention throughout, as the story line moves on from one episode to the next. Even if you're too young to remember 1974 (I was already 27 years old at that time), you'll like this series. They don't make television programmes like this any more, more's the pity.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 9, 2013 3:08 PM GMT

A Dog of Flanders [DVD] [1959]
A Dog of Flanders [DVD] [1959]
Dvd ~ David Ladd
Price: £6.67

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A wasted opportunity in not releasing this in widescreen like the Region 1 release of last July., 8 Mar. 2010
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THE DISC: My newly released Region 2 copy of this film arrived this morning, Monday, March 8th, 2010 and on playing it, I was disappointed to find that, although released by the same label as released the remastered Region 1 widescreen version last July, this version is actually the old 4 x 3 pan and scan transfer without the "20th Century-Fox presents a CinemaScope picture" opening title and that it is the same transfer made available years ago by various DVD companies like Paramount, ect...a completely wasted opportunity. Thankfully, I have the Region 1 wide screen release in full CinemaScope. But it's very disappointing that those who can only play Region 2 will not be given the chance to see this film in its full CinemaScope ratio. Because of this, I have knocked one star of my rating for the DVD, although I would give the film itself five stars.

THE FILM: I went to see this, the definitive version of A Dog of Flanders in 1961, when I was fourteen, and it became one of my all time favourite films. This is a superb tear-jerker, filmed on location in Holland and Belgium in 1959, but set in 1900. It stars the then twelve-year-old David Ladd as the orphan Nello and veteran actor Donald Crisp as his elderly and infirm grandfather. Although devoted to one another, they live a very poor life selling milk from a hand cart they pull around Antwerp. Nello is an artistic, intelligent and sensitive little boy who wants to paint like his idol, Peter Paul Rubens, but he has no money to enable him to study or to buy proper materials to paint with. They find a badly treated dog, left to die at the roadside by his heartless owner and take him home and care for him. Because he's been so badly treated, it takes time for him to accept them as his friends. But eventually, they gain his trust. Nello names him Patrasche...the name that Rubens had given to his dog...and he becomes part of the small family, even pulling the cart when grandfather is unable to do so any more. One day, Nello has just finished a sketch of the old man dozing in a chair outside their one-roomed hut and goes to show him the finished drawing. But he cannot awaken him and slowly, he comes to realise that his beloved grandfather is dead. Completely bereft and unable to keep up the rent on their home, Nello and Patrasche are evicted by an uncaring landlord in the middle of winter and just before Christmas. Somehow, they have to learn how to survive without his grandfather in a harsh and bitter world.

A Dog of Flanders, from the 1872 novel by Ouida, had been filmed previously, notably in 1934, but never so well as this. Even though the very tragic ending of the novel is changed to a happy ending here, it really is beautifully done all round and everyone connected with it should feel very proud of the result. The picturesque landscapes of Flanders are superbly captured on film in CinemaScope and Color by De Luxe by Otto Heller (although only half the original wide screen image is available on this pan and scan transfer) and the music score by Paul Sawtell and Bert Shefter is very haunting. David Ladd, who had previously given such a truly wonderful performance alongside his father Alan in The Proud Rebel (1958), is superb. David and I shared the same Christian name, were both the same age and had similar looks, which made it easy for me to identify with him in A Dog of Flanders. Theodore Bikel has a good character role in it as an artist who befriends Nello, eventually adopts him and helps him to realise his dreams.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 22, 2010 10:24 AM GMT

Raising The Wind [DVD]
Raising The Wind [DVD]
Dvd ~ James Robertson Justice
Price: £12.02

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another otherwise excellent Optimum DVD release marred by wow and flutter on the music in places., 16 Feb. 2010
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This review is from: Raising The Wind [DVD] (DVD)
Released for the first time on DVD (and never, as far as I know, ever released on video), Raising The Wind, produced by Peter Rogers and directed by Gerald Thomas, is a Carry On film in all but name set in a London music academy. This new Optimum release is in the original aspect ratio and has been anamorphically enhanced for 16 x 9 monitors and televisions and contains the original theatrical trailer (although those two facts aren't mentioned on the DVD cover).

For those who haven't seen it, the film stars James Robertson Justice; Leslie Phillips; Paul Massie; Kenneth Williams; Liz Fraser; Eric Barker; Jennifer Jayne; Jimmy Thompson; Sidney James; David Lodge; Esma Cannon and Lance Percival.

The image quality is superb, but, as with quite a few Optimum DVD releases of recent times, such as The Duke Wore Jeans and The Moonraker, the sound transfer, although clear, has a definite wow and flutter on it that is particularly noticeable on the music (but not on the dialogue) and is at its worst on the Anglo Amalgamated opening title and the opening credits. I don't know who does these DVD transfers for Optimum, but they must be tone deaf if they can't notice the wow and flutter on the music and should be admonished over this and made to re-do the transfer free of charge. I doubt whether that will happen though. How do people like that get such a job in the first place? Probably by bluffing their way through life and jobs as many people unfortunately do. Conversely, there is no wow or flutter on the music in my recorded off air version of the film, which I did in April, 1997, off Channel 4. I have knocked off one star because the sound could have been transferred better on this DVD.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 3, 2012 6:43 PM GMT

Princes in the Tower [DVD] [2005] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Princes in the Tower [DVD] [2005] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Mark Umbers

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could have been far better than this...a missed opportunity!, 8 Dec. 2009
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The DVD cover features a beautiful photo of Timotei Cresta as Edward V, aged 12 and Correntin Combeau as Richard, Duke of York, aged 10...the princes in the tower and this photo gives the misleading impression that the film is all about them, whereas they are only seen in it for a few seconds here and there in grainy flashback sequences.

99% of the film is about the adult Perkin Warbeck (Mark Umbers), a pretender to the throne who, sixteen years after the disappearance of the two princes, claims to be the adult Richard, Duke of York and then follows the very long interrogation of him by the king and his officials to try to discover the truth of his claim. The story is largely fictional, but the acting is of a very high order in what was obviously a very cheaply made production.

However, some characters and scenes are superfluous to the drama and could have been dispensed with and the film makers missed a great opportunity here to have more of the film devoted to the princes of the title, with Perkin Warbeck's interrogation taking up the rest of the drama. Instead, the princes are portrayed as very fleeting and ghostly images of the past when their presence could have been far more substantial. A good try, but it could have been done far better in more talented hands. The bonus material on the DVD, the princes in the tower except from the documentary series The Tower, is actually far more entertaining and the DVD is worth getting just for the picture on the front cover alone.

Sea of Sand [1958] [DVD]
Sea of Sand [1958] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Richard Attenborough
Offered by dvdGOLD
Price: £5.73

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Otherwise excellent film ruined by poorly done transfer on this DVD., 14 May 2009
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This review is from: Sea of Sand [1958] [DVD] (DVD)
The excellent film with equally excellent performances was originally shot in 1.85:1 aspect ratio and has been shown this way on Channel 4 and Film 4. But the DDHE DVD image is zoomed in to eliminate the black bars at the top and bottom and unfortunately, whoever the idiot was who did the transfer has zoomed in a bit too much, so that a lot of the image top, bottom and sides is missing, which means a lot of scenes where the top of the actors heads are cut off. All in all, the framing of the image looks very "tight" and you'd be better off with a recording of the Channel 4 / Film 4 version. My guess is that DDHE used an old transfer for this DVD dating back to pre-wide screen television days, when all wide screen films had to be zoomed in to elimate the black bars or be panned and scanned as a matter of course. In other words, a remastered version is needed for a DVD release far better than this one. I have given the film itself five stars...the transfer merits only one star.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 12, 2011 2:49 PM BST

The Red Balloon/White Mane [DVD]
The Red Balloon/White Mane [DVD]
Dvd ~ Pascal Lamorisse
Price: £5.00

97 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Red Balloon is Charming; Enchanting and Disturbing, But Ultimately Uplifting! A Wonderful Classic Tear-Jerker!, 1 Oct. 2008
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This is a superb release of two classic 1950's short films, now on Region 2, for those without multi-region players who didn't buy the Region 1 release of a few months ago. Picture and sound quality on both films are excellent and so they should be, as they have been beautifully restored, at great cost, to their original pristine glory.

I originally went to see "The Red Balloon", as the supporting film to the 1956 Royal Performance Film "The Battle of The River Plate" at the now long gone Broadway cinema in Meir, Stoke-on-Trent, on Saturday, April 27th, 1957, one day after my tenth birthday and thought it was totally wonderful. It still looks just as wonderful today, nearly fifty-two years later and you can't say that about many films seen in that era.

You will notice that The Red Balloon has been reclassified from its original "U" rating to that of a "PG." But the British Board of Film Classification, in their wisdom, have, I believe done the right thing here. The film is actually in two parts. Part one is charming and enchanting and funny and lovely. But twenty minutes in, the film suddenly becomes much more serious and has a darker, more ominous tone about it, as the bullies of the neighbourhood appear, intent on not only destroying the happiness that six years old Pascal and his dearest friend, the balloon, have found together, but beating up Pascal and destroying his friend. A large gang of them chase Pascal, as he holds on tightly to his balloon, through the narrow, twisting and turning cobblestoned alleyways and streets of his neighbourhood. Pascal knows that if he and his balloon are caught by these vicious scumbags, it will be the end for both of them and he quite literally is running for their lives. The chase takes on the quality of a terrible nightmare, but one played out not in the darkness of night, but in broad daylight and bright sunlight.

Eventually, the bullies, through sheer weight of numbers, corner and surround Pascal on a hilltop and attack him and try to grab his balloon. But Pascal lets the balloon go and it sails a short distance upward. "Fly away balloon! Fly away!", cries Pascal in desperation. But the balloon will not leave its friend and pays the ultimate price.

These scenes may upset some children with a sensitive nature who have, over the course of the film, come to love the balloon and regard it as a real, living, sentient being. Certainly, I remember being in tears myself when I saw these scenes as a ten year old in April, 1957. I remember feeling upset...a feeling that was only partly alleviated by the spectacular and uplifting ending to the film. Something that seems to say: "There...there...It's alright now...everything's alright now!"

These scenes with the bullies still upset me even today, all these years later. So if you are an adult, watching this with a young child, prepare to hold them and comfort them if they are upset at the murder of Pascal's dearest and most wonderful friend. But, whichever way you look at it, "The Red Balloon" is a superb piece of film making that deservedly won many international awards, including an Academy Award for best screenplay.

"White Mane" is, of course, a completely different film to "The Red Balloon." But there's no mistaking the sheer artistry and talent that has gone into it. Artistry and talent that are undoubtedly the unmistakable hallmarks of Albert Lamorisse, one of the greatest film makers in the history of motion pictures. I highly recommend this DVD of two of his most famous and best loved films.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 3, 2013 12:32 AM GMT

Hondo [DVD] [1953]
Hondo [DVD] [1953]
Dvd ~ John Wayne
Offered by macher43
Price: £19.99

11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beware regarding items listed as being on this Region 2 DVD., 12 April 2008
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This review is from: Hondo [DVD] [1953] (DVD)
I would have given this DVD five stars, because it's an excellent transfer with a good commentary. But...extras that may have been on the Region 1 release and are misleadingly listed on the packaging of this Region 2 release are not on there.

The DVD packaging lists four extras that are not actually on the disc: New, never before seen footage; photo gallery; original theatrical trailer and a Batjac teaser. Paramount DVD, who have released this former Warner Bros release, should be taken to court and prosecuted under the Trade Descriptions Act.

What if someone saw this DVD in HMV or somewhere and bought it especially to see the extras listed on the box? When they got the disc home and played it, they would feel like they'd been conned. This practice of releasing the Region 2 DVD version of a film without the extras that are on the Region 1 release, even though the packaging on the Region 2 version lists those extras, has to be stopped.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 14, 2011 5:31 PM BST

Payroll [DVD]
Payroll [DVD]
Dvd ~ Michael Craig
Price: £10.02

137 of 138 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PAYROLL is as hard-hitting today as it was in 1961. A true British classic!, 14 Feb. 2008
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This review is from: Payroll [DVD] (DVD)
"Brilliant! Brutal!...TORN FROM TONIGHT'S HEADLINES!", exclaimed the poster for this highly suspenseful and thrilling British crime drama from 1961. It's about the meticulously planned robbery of a £100,000 payroll from a seemingly impregnable armoured security van in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where it was filmed on location, by crooks Michael Craig (the leader); Tom Bell; Kenneth Griffith and Barry Keegan. The robbery goes wrong. Although the gang gets away with the money, the security van driver and one of the gang are killed. The rest of the film is concerned with the hunt for the gang by the police and the security van driver's widow (a wonderfully understated performance of a woman bent on revenge by Billie Whitelaw) and the action and tension never lets up.

French star Francoise Prevost is excellent as Katie Pearson, the embittered; selfish and self-centred wife of inside man Dennis Pearson (William Lucas), a nervous wreck if ever there was one whom you just know from the beginning is going to crack and give the game away before the film is over. In fact, Prevost is so good in the role, that she BECOMES Katie Pearson...a woman who has everything a man could a price.

I went to see this film at the cinema when I was 14 in 1961 and thought it was one of the best British films of the year. The robbery is so well planned and executed that I wouldn't be surprised if some real gang of crooks had copied it sometime during the past 47 years. The film is hard-hitting and suspensefully directed in black and white by Sidney Hayers and very well acted. Reg Owen's theme music (which I still have on an old 45 rpm single on the Palette label) compliments the film superbly. I'm also lucky enough to have the film's original quad poster and Front-of-House set of eight glossy, black and white stills.

Payroll was also Michael Craig's first film role as an out and out villain and he certainly makes the most of it. As for this DVD, it is an excellent transfer of the complete film. It even has the original British Board of Film Censors "A" certificate on the beginning, which is unusual for a DVD transfer of a vintage cinema film, as well as the original Anglo Amalgamated opening title. Highly Recommended. I give it five stars.
Comment Comments (9) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 5, 2012 4:05 PM GMT

The Pride And The Passion [DVD]
The Pride And The Passion [DVD]
Dvd ~ Cary Grant
Offered by Love-Your-Books
Price: £12.44

19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still runs rings around the junk they turn out today!, 13 Feb. 2008
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I was always reluctant to take the plunge and buy this DVD after reading a review of it on, if I remember correctly, DVD Savant, that mentioned an annoying flaw in the centre of the image throughout the film. The result of a faulty DVD transfer. Well, I decided that this probably only applied to the Region 1 disc and not to the Region 2 disc, as there is no mention of this fault in the DVD Times review, nor on the customer reviews here on amazon uk. So I bought it off amazon uk and it arrived this morning.

Well, as I suspected, there's nothing wrong with it, save for being a little unnecessarily cropped. The print used was a well preserved 35mm exhibition print. You can tell that by the queu marks at the end of each reel. The top quarter of the queu marks are cropped off. This is also quite obviously a British print, as the credits read "Colour by Technicolor", instead of the "Color by Technicolor" used on US prints. In fact, this is the same print as used by the BBC on a number of occasions.

I'm quite happy with the DVD, although the trailer included seems more like a teaser trailer to me than what would have been the regular trailer shown in cinemas the week prior to the film's screening. Oddly, there are no scenes or dialogue from the film, only lack lustre black line drawings on a dark red background. I don't think this was the main trailer for the film, but perhaps it was the only one they could get.

As for "THE PRIDE AND THE PASSION" itself, it's fifty years ago now since I went to see it at the now long gone Alhambra cinema here in Stoke-on-Trent in March, 1958. I had already bought the Movie Classic comic of the film and was determined to go to see it. I was ten, going on eleven at the time and thought it was very impressive and that the music was fantastic (I'm lucky enough to have the soundtrack LP). Such a pity that I will never again be able to see it on a big screen in a proper cinema. None of these modern box-like multiplexes could do it justice. It runs rings around what they churn out today. The colours are bright and vibrant, while today's colour films are all yellowy-brown and miserable looking. The cinema has definitely lost the knack of making good films since the days when The Pride and The Passion was made.

Today, the spectacular shot of the real, seven ton, runaway cannon crashing down a Spanish hillside, snapping off full grown trees in its path as though they were matchsticks, would probably be achieved using CGI. But here, you know that this is a real effect using a real seven ton cannon and not one worked out in a laboratory.

I give it four stars out of five. I knock one star off for the day for night scenes of the attack on the French camp and pontoon bridge. The flaming balls of hay rolling down the hillside would have looked far more impressive filmed at night, where they would have lit up the screen, instead of being filmed in bright sunlight with a dark blue filter over the lens.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 4, 2010 10:27 AM BST

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