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Peter J. Chambers

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Battling Siki: A Tale of Ring Fixes, Race, and Murder in the 1920s
Battling Siki: A Tale of Ring Fixes, Race, and Murder in the 1920s
by Peter Benson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £27.87

5.0 out of 5 stars An engrossing and entertaining historical account of a true fighter, 7 Jan 2014
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This is a beautifully produced hardback book from Peter Benson on the much overlooked and therefore underated Senegalese boxer Battling Siki. Like a lot of black boxers in the early twentieth century, Siki's life and career was dominated by racist attitudes and he struggled to get the breaks afforded to less deserving white counterparts.

Siki served in WW1 and resumed his career as a boxer thereafter. It is fair to say that he was utterly fearless in the ring, his encounters with better known boxers such as Kid Norfolk bear witness that he could mix it up with the roughest and toughest fighters ever. He also knocked-out Georges Carpentier, the great french champion who went on to fight Jack Dempsey, and fought Irish-American Mike McTigue.

A flashy dresser, Siki was sometimes referred to as the french Jack Johnson because of his flamboyant lifestyle - he also owned a pet lion which he used to take for walks in the streets of Paris! Far from the then media's stereotypical portrayal of him as a simpleton, which the white media usually attributed to black boxers during the first half of the twentieth century, Siki was actually an intelligent and socially conscious man.

The book is one of the best written and most entertaining tombs of a long forgotten boxer that I have ever read. The book is never boring at any part and the journey it takes you on is thoroughly absorbing. At 342 pages which is preceded by a 15 page preface, the pace of Bensons story of Siki is perfect. The book is excellently referenced as you would expect from the professor of English, and has some well chosen photos.

If you like reading historical and intelligently written books on boxers from a bygone era, I am certain you'll enjoy this wonderful book.

Grumpier Old Men
Grumpier Old Men
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A worthy soundtrack to a film starring acting legends, 7 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Grumpier Old Men (Audio CD)
There are some really nice tunes on this soundtrack to the excellent film "Grumpier Old Men."

The highlights for me are the songs by Louis Armstrong, Dean Martin, Harry Belafonte, Doris Day, Nat King Cole and the couple of instrumentals by composer Alan Silvestri. These are the recordings that will remind you of the fun that GOM provided to those fortunate to see legends Lemmon, Matthau, Meredith, Ann-Margaret and Sophia Loren (holy moly) in their last great film together.

The only pity is that because the first films soundtrack is not available to buy, that the song from that film "We're Having A Heatwave" is not here.

Sound quality is excellent and joyous.

Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines [1965] [DVD]
Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines [1965] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Stuart Whitman
Price: £3.93

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hancock woefully under-used in this otherwise great comedy, 9 Dec 2013
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In the first half of the sixties there were three similar epic comedies made; It's a Mad Mad Mad World, The Great Race, and this charming film, Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines. In my opinion, Magnificent Men... is the second best of the three, not as good as The Great Race, but superior to ...Mad World.

There are many good synopsis' from previous reviewers posts, so rather than repeat what has already been stated, I will try to add a few original comments of my own.

As someone who loves the work of Tony Hancock, I feel that in this film he is woefully under-used and the picture could have been funnier if Tony had a bigger role. Although there are many great comedy actors in the film; Terry Thomas, Benny Hill and Eric Sykes to name but three, and realising that the film wasn't designed to be a vehicle for Hancock, I still think the makers of the film missed a fantastic opportunity to properly showcase the talents of Britains greatest ever comedy actor.

Other great performances in the film as well as the ones mentioned above include, Gert Frobe (James Bond's Mr Goldfinger), Robert Morley, Sarah Miles, Irina Demick and the under-rated Willy Rushton. I sometimes wonder about the fun off-camera that the likes of Hancock, Thomas, Hill, Sykes and Rushton may have had when not bound by script and direction.

The film on this dvd has exceptional picture quality in widescreen and very good 5.0 audio.

Footnote: Just three years after this film was made, Willy Rushton would be flying back to England from Australia with Tony Hancocks ashes after "The Lad" took his own life in Sydney. Rushton, who was travelling economy class was asked by airline staff what was in his luggage, he replied that it contained Hancocks ashes. The member of staff told Rushton that Mr Hancock deserves to travel in first class on his final trip - and promptly put Tonys ashes in the first class compartment.

6FT White Premium Artificial Christmas/Xmas Tree
6FT White Premium Artificial Christmas/Xmas Tree

4.0 out of 5 stars You won't get better for the price, 5 Dec 2013
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This is the first time that I have had a white Christmas tree and as expected it makes the room a lot brighter than having a green one, especially when the tree lights are on in a dark room when watching tv.

The tree itself is a nice bargain price selection - there are enough branches and adjoining branches to fill out and make a good presentation if you take the time to do it correctly. Add tinsel and lights and you have a good looking tree.

For those who don't want to spend over-the-odds (like me) and are realistic about what you will get for the price (£19.99 when I bought mine) which includes free postage, then this is in my opinion a good purchase.

The Best of Dick Emery [DVD]
The Best of Dick Emery [DVD]
Dvd ~ Dick Emery
Price: £6.36

4.0 out of 5 stars Surely every 70's schoolboy impersonated these characters, 3 Dec 2013
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This review is from: The Best of Dick Emery [DVD] (DVD)
I only have vague memories of watching Dick Emery in programmes that even at the time were probably repeats. Like most kids in the seventies, I was hooked by the funny catchphrases "Daaad, I think I got it wrong again, Oh you are awful but I do like you, Hello Honky Tonk" Dick acted and delivered those lines to perfection. Many a-time his characters were mimicked in the school playground to the hilarity of all observers.

What is considered Dicks best material is subjective and previous reviewers have stated that this compilation has left them disappointed. However, what is undeniable is that this dvd is very enjoyable and a trip down memory lane to a more innocent time. The humour is first class and devoid of vulgarity. There is even a few minutes of bloopers at the end that are priceless.

I would recommend "The Best Of Dick Emery" dvd to anyone who recognizes quality comedy from one of Britains best comedians.

Benny Hill: Double Helpings! [DVD] [1962]
Benny Hill: Double Helpings! [DVD] [1962]
Dvd ~ Benny Hill
Offered by Rapid-DVD
Price: £7.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent Benny Hill package, 2 Dec 2013
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This "double helping" of Benny Hill that runs for 104 minutes is a good but not as good as it could have been package from Benny's Thames Television series.

The disc is split into two sections, "Benny Hill's Greatest Hits" which for me it isn't as there are far funnier sketches that could qualify for that title and for such a bold title claim, should have been here instead. Good, but no where near Benny's greatest in my opinion.

The second part is called "The Crazy World of Benny Hill" and features more sketches that include Hill's Angels among others.

This is a good bargain price collection of Benny Hill nostalgia if you select the right seller.

N.B. Contrary to an earlier review, this dvd will play on British players as the disc is Region 0 which means Region Free.

Billy Connolly: Live In Dublin [DVD] [2002]
Billy Connolly: Live In Dublin [DVD] [2002]
Dvd ~ Billy Connolly
Price: £3.23

5.0 out of 5 stars Billy at his best, 2 Dec 2013
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This dvd contains an hour of Billy's stunning 2002 performance at Dublin and approximately 45 minutes from various venues in Britain during the same year. "The Big Yin" does not disappoint in this tour de force and if you love story telling with charasmatic delivery then this will have you in tears of laughter.

I found there to be many laugh out loud moments including the hilarious routine about the man who works in the mortuary, but I won't start listing other highlights as I don't wish to make this a long review. Suffice to add that this is laughter filled stand-up at it's best.

I bought this brand new from a seller on Amazon to replace my vhs copy for £2.25 which included postage - a bargain. This excellent dvd would bring many a household much laughter and would be enjoyed by anyone with a good sense of humour.

Highly recommended.

Miracle on 34th Street [1947] / Miracle on 34th Street [1994] Double Pack [DVD]
Miracle on 34th Street [1947] / Miracle on 34th Street [1994] Double Pack [DVD]
Dvd ~ Maureen O'Hara
Price: £8.80

5.0 out of 5 stars B&W and Colour versions, 1 Dec 2013
Not that I want to take business away from Amazon but I bought this for £2.99 in HMV - and at the time of typing the offer is still on.

Some reviewers have been disappointed that they received both versions in colour - well here you get the 1947 original in b&w and the 1994 in colour. Picture quality on both films are excellent, the 1947 film comes with 5.1 audio, the 1994 film with 5.0 sound.

As for the films content, the 1947 original is far more charming especially with Natalie Wood giving an excellent performance for such a young child. Put Natalie Wood together with Maureen O'Hara and Edmund Gwenn, and you have three acting legends in this perennial seasonal favourite. For me, the 1994 version is carried by Richard Attenborough, the rest of the adult cast give an ok but rather bland performances in this average remake. Mara Wilson as the child is the second best thing in the film.

Under £3 for a great original film and an average remake is a good purchase in my opinion.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent value sweatshirt, 29 Nov 2013
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I am delighted to have found this item at such a cheap price. The sweatshirt has helped to keep me warm during the recent cold spell whilst out on my regular walks in the countryside, and nipping out to the shops. I like it's basic look - nothing fancy or unnecessary. It is well made and still has kept it's form after a few washes.

This is an excellent sweatshirt for the price paid - I have seen similar items in high street stores but are more expensive. Buy with confidence.

Price: £6.99 - £13.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Tried, tested and I'm very pleased, 29 Nov 2013
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I bought this hoodie to keep myself warm this winter during regular walks in the countryside, nipping down the shops and for pottering about the garden.

I have tested it a few times during the recent cold spell and am delighted with it - more so considering how cheap it is. The great thing is that it hugs the body perfectly, not too tight but not loose either. It is reasonably rugged and strongly made, and still looks fine after a few washes. I also like that it is a basic hoodie without unnecessary logos to ruin the look of it.

This product is as good if not better than similar items that cost twice as much in a high street store. Buy with confidence.

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