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Emanon "Mr Holmes (they were the footprints of a gigantic hound!)" (Derbyshire)

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Penguins Stopped Play: Eleven Village Cricketers Take on the World
Penguins Stopped Play: Eleven Village Cricketers Take on the World
by Harry Thompson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great fun!, 24 Mar. 2009
If you've ever wondered quite what it is that makes grown men (and women) take up the strange and absorbing game that is cricket, then this book might go some way towards answering the question. All the passion, joys and frustrations of trying to keep an amateur side together against all the odds are explored as Harry Thompson takes his (sometimes reluctant, sometimes downright bizarre) merry band of cricketers on a somewhat unlikely world tour which leads them through various surprising and life-affirming experiences, despite the best efforts of British Airways to put as many spanners in the works as they possibly can. This is a wonderfully witty and entertaining book, which might open the eyes of anyone who just doesn't understand what people see in the game of cricket, but the ending will break your heart.

Bearded Tit: A Love Story with Feathers
Bearded Tit: A Love Story with Feathers
by Rory McGrath
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly sweet, 24 Mar. 2009
A little gem. Anyone who has avoided this book because of Mr McGrath's boisterous "blokey" persona that he projects in his television appearances should think again as he has written a truly charming and delightful read - a poignant and sensitive love story woven amongst the trials and tribulations of University and later adult life and all told through his own experiences of bird watching. Many might think that such a pastime is only for the "anoraks" of society, but Mr McGrath's anecdotes are informative and always entertaining and manage to put a lot of fun into what might seem to outsiders to be something of a dry and uninspiring hobby. Rory McGrath makes it magical and absorbing, at times very funny, and you might even learn something along the way. The easily offended should be warned that this is an adult story told in an adult way, but that shouldn't deter you from this quality read, and if the producers of wildlife TV shows are looking for a hairy comedian to replace Bill Oddie at any time in the future, they could do much worse than to give Mr McGrath a call.

The Thin Man Collection [DVD]
The Thin Man Collection [DVD]
Dvd ~ William Powell

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A perfect pairing, 20 Jan. 2009
This is quite simply a sublime set of movies. The original "Thin Man" tends to get shown rather a lot on television but its sequels are less well known, and that's a great pity because these films are all very enjoyable with witty, sharp dialogue that seems daring and up-to-date nowadays, and must have seemed positively shocking back in the 1930s. William Powell and Myrna Loy were just perfectly cast as Nick and Nora Charles and the class just pours out of every frame. Perfect chemistry - so charismatic that if they could be making films today they would quite possibly put all other stars in the shade. These films inspired so many imitators - not least "Hart to Hart" - but they remain the original and, in my opinion, probably the best of the lot.
Some people seem to find old movies a bit of a turn off these days, and that's a great shame, but if you're willing to accept the fact that storytelling styles were just different back then and go along with the fun, you're in for one heck of a treat.
There's a nice set of extras, too: The biographies on the bonus disc are both worth a look, and, if you're in the right frame of mind, you can put on the comedy shorts that feature on all the discs before the "main feature" and get a feel of how a night at the cinema used to be. You should be warned, however, that the old style of trailers pretty much used to give the whole plot away - simpler times - so you might want to leave them until after Nick's revealed "whodunnit".

In Which We Serve (Restored Special Edition) [DVD] [1942]
In Which We Serve (Restored Special Edition) [DVD] [1942]
Dvd ~ NoŽl Coward
Price: £3.60

19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A GREAT British film, 20 Jan. 2009
This is without a doubt one of my favourite ever British films. Undoubtedly it is pure propaganda, made at the height of World War Two, but somehow it manages to rise above this and just become fabulously entertaining. Some people can be turned off by Noel Coward and Celia Johnson's "fraightfully posh" performances as Captain Kinross (Captain "D" as he's known to his crew) and his wife, but if you look beyond that you find a terrifically good film with some powerful and moving scenes that stick in the mind long, long after the film is over: The tragedy of Bernard Miles Petty Officer's homecoming; Young Richard Attenborough as a youthful seaman running scared from his post and having to come to terms with the consequences of it; Sir John Mills as "Shorty" Blake tending to the injured and his homecoming after being missing presumed dead; Captain D's emotional farewell to his crew that makes many a stiff upper lip tremble - and many more tiny moments that just make this a true classic of it's kind. The fact that it was co-directed by its star and David Lean means that some of the photography is superb, especially when you consider what was happening in the real world during production.
This Carlton edition also includes a short documentary about the making of the film (in which, amongst other things, you learn why a certain Mr William Hartnell does not appear in it!) and other minor extras like biographies and a trailer.

The Blue Lamp [DVD]
The Blue Lamp [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jack Warner
Price: £6.86

39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly great British film, 20 Jan. 2009
This review is from: The Blue Lamp [DVD] (DVD)
I genuinely believe this to be one of the great British films and I can watch it again and again and never become bored of it. So many memorable images; PC Dixon's fate; the child finding the gun; Dirk Bogarde's chilling performance; the nature of the crime sickening even the most hardened of criminals; and much, much more.
This is truly a window into a lost world - some of the photography of 1950s London is astounding - and I'm sure many modern viewers might find it all a bit silly - this is, after all from an era when accents were either cut glass or "Gor, Blimey Guv'nor" vulgar - but you'd have to have a heart of stone not to be deeply moved by the scene with George Dixon's wife after the shooting.
It also comes from a time before the idea of the "honest copper" was tarnished forever, and when there really were "bobbies on the beat" - a time when many villains could be portrayed as "lovable rogues" but, if you bear in mind that you are watching a slice of lost history - in a very effective semi-documentary style - you will find a lot to enjoy in this film, and the basic sense of justice and ideals of right and wrong as showcased in this film still make very powerful viewing.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 18, 2015 8:21 PM BST

Hell Drivers [DVD] [1957]
Hell Drivers [DVD] [1957]
Dvd ~ Stanley Baker
Price: £9.00

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All those future Icons together..., 20 Jan. 2009
This review is from: Hell Drivers [DVD] [1957] (DVD)
One of those films that once seen is never forgotten, not least because of the ensemble of actors featuring in it. Every time you watch it you seem to spot someone else, and it is a very rewatchable film. Where else would you find all those future icons of 1960s and 1970s film and TV - Stanley Baker, Sean Connery, Patrick McGoohan, Herbert Lom, William Hartnell, Sidney James, Alfie Bass, Jill Ireland, David McCallum, Gordon Jackson - all in one film? Surely a cornerstone of any "six degrees of separation" list...
The 2 disc Network release also includes a number of documentaries about Stanley Baker ("Return to the Rhondda" managing to be especially moving) as well as two full length TV dramas ("Who Killed Lamb?" starring Stanley Baker and "Danger Man: Loyalty Always Pays" starring Patrick McGoohan) and the usual trailers and short featurettes made during filming - including a gallery of a newspaper comic strip released by the film distributors at the time which would have told you (bizarrely) the entire plot. The commemorative booklet is exhaustive and the whole package (including an affectionate commentary which occasionally gets rather too fixated on the colour of the trucks and the abuse they suffered during filming) is a fitting tribute to a genuine, and very rewarding, British film classic.

All Quiet on the Home Front: An Oral History of Life in Britain during the First World War
All Quiet on the Home Front: An Oral History of Life in Britain during the First World War
by Richard Van Emden
Edition: Paperback

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stories that will stay with you, 20 Jan. 2009
This is just a very good (and also very moving) book, highly recommended for anyone who wants to know more about a very important era in the history of Europe, but also covering an area much neglected in many of the popular histories available. Whilst the horrors of the Western, Eastern and Italian fronts should never be ignored, the suffering endured by the civilian populations from coastal bombardments, Zeppelin raids, starvation, poverty, child labour and so much more are widely covered in this fascinating read. Stories such as that of Elfie Druhm, living in London after her father's internment or Phyllis Ing's experiences in an orphanage will haunt you forever. A truly unforgettable read.

The Blood Donor and The Radio Ham
The Blood Donor and The Radio Ham
Price: £6.94

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 classic episodes on one LP, 20 Jan. 2009
One of the strange aspects of television in the 1950s and early 1960s is that television programmes were sometimes re-recorded by the TV cast for an LP release. This is one such release, now rereleased on CD, and you get two of the finest episodes from Tony Hancock's highly regarded final BBC series with some of Galton and Simpson's best writing on display as well as a comedian at the peak of his powers. True "lightning in a bottle" stuff. With "The Blood Donor" some people prefer this performance to the televised version as behind the scenes problems and the consequent use of cue cards detract from their enjoyment. On this LP version, Tony Hancock's timing is spot on and all those years of radio experience come into their own. 2 truly classic performances.

"Torchwood": Lost Souls (BBC Audio)
"Torchwood": Lost Souls (BBC Audio)
by Joseph Lidster
Edition: Audio CD

4.0 out of 5 stars A bonus for completists, 20 Jan. 2009
Whether or not this episode finds itself as a bonus on an eventual DVD box set (which I have few doubts it will) this episode should not be ignored if you're a Torchwood completist. It's an odd piece crowbarred as it was into Radio 4's "Big Bang" day for the launch of the Cern project and yet containing some very woolly pseudo-science, but as an entertaining play that acts as a coda to the second TV series it's a very enjoyable way of passing 45 minutes in the company of characters you know (and - I assume - like if you're thinking of buying this...). Also included is a half hour "All Access" radio documentary which goes behind the scenes, and, if you enjoy Torchwood, is worth a listen - even if you hated the play. You should also bear in mind (and at the time of writing this isn't an issue) that it is probably worth checking any future DVD extras listings in case of duplication.

The Tony Hancock BBC Collection (8 Disc Box Set) [DVD] [1956]
The Tony Hancock BBC Collection (8 Disc Box Set) [DVD] [1956]
Dvd ~ Tony Hancock
Price: £17.00

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well, that's marvellous!, 20 Jan. 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I know a lot of people were disappointed in this set, but that seems mostly to be based on the fact that they'd already bought previous releases, and whilst that is an unpleasant aspect of the modern commercial world it should not detract from the fact that this is a thoroughly enjoyable set and I really enjoyed it. All the surviving episodes of the BBC's "Hancock's Half Hour" and "Hancock" in one convenient package. For me, it was worth it for the "Face to Face" interview alone (which I'd never before seen in it's entirety) but there was also the opportunity to enjoy episodes that I personally had not seen before. "Hancock's 43 Minutes" is an enjoyable bonus and gives a comic insight into a lost world of TV variety, and alongside that you get 37 episodes of comedy gold from an era that is too often overlooked in the release market. My only gripe is that I would have liked the prints to have been restored a bit more - maybe they will be on the inevitable later releases - but, on the whole, I love it.

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