Most Helpful First | Newest First
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond tthe Fringe DVD,
Amazon Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Beyond the Fringe [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)I think this performance must have been in 1963, not 1964 as stated on the DVD cover. The team went to America in 1962 and toured for a year (the show continued in London with a substitute cast). At the end of the tour Jonathan Miller stopped performing and joined the BBC 'Omnimbus' TV documentary team.
Looking at the recording (which is video not film) it was done in a theatre, but obviously mounted for television (judging by the camerawork). It was directed by Duncan Wood (who directed the 'Hancock's Half Hour' TV series): evidently it was recorded in London with the intention of a TV broadcast, but this never happened (though an excerpt did turn up in 'Parkinson' some years later).
The technical quality is rather scruffy, but it is an absolutely invaluable record of the show that changfed the face of British comedy. Some of the sketches were added for the American tour, and one or two familiar ones are missing - Cook's MacMillan monologue, for example, because by then MacMillan was out of power.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classsic Blast From The Past,
This review is from: Beyond the Fringe [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)I was so pleased to find this DVD available as I actually worked on the recording as a humble trainee cameraman at the BBC!
It was indeed in 1964 staged in the Shepherds Bush Empire theatre (which the Beeb had converted into a Light Entertainment studio)and was recorded in the American format (we could never understand why it was not shown in the UK as well). The whole Camera Crew were so completely taken with the humour that we went around quoting from the various sketches for weeks afterwards! I was delighted a couple of years later to have the luck to then work on Not Only But Also with Dud abd Pete! Happy memories!
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars World changing British satire,
This review is from: Beyond the Fringe [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)The impact of this tour on modern humour cannot be calculated; it's like trying to imagine popular cluture without The Beatles! Each member of the team brought their own wonderful talents (often Jonathan Miller gets overlooked as he left the world of performing humourous dialogues not long after this was completed and worked in many different fields, but his imput is no less remarkable than any other member), and the humour is wonderful.
It beggars the question why it is not for sale here in Britain, where it was conceived and to whome it was initally aimed at? Come on chaps, let's have some of it here in Blighty!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic preservation ...,
This review is from: Beyond the Fringe [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)I saw the lads in Washington, D.C, at the National Theater, where the show was in "try-outs" prior to B'way in August 1962, I believe. I was 19 at the time but remember roaring at some of the skits, especially "So That's the Way You Like It," possibly the funniest spoof of Shakespeare ever done.
If memory serves, what we have here is the troupe's swan song, videotaped in London after the two-year American engagement. Miller had left the company some time before but was persuaded to come back for one last go. The performance was videotaped with the primitive equipment of the day and was scheduled to be shown in theaters with the "Electronovision" process that converted video to film, again rather crudely. A number of theater attractions, including Richard Burton's "Hamlet," had been shown for a few days in the early 1960s in specially booked movie houses using the process, but the practice died out about the time "Fringe" was ready for release and it was shown in relatively few theaters. The prints were supposed to have been destroyed following the showings due to demands of the unions. But the mastertape survived.
Unfortunately, this performance does not represent "Fringe" at its best. Technically, the video is rather wretched, blurry and lacking definition - something like 280p. After hundreds of shows, the performers seem tired and listless and in some cases (Peter Cook as the Coalminer Who Wanted to be a Judge) screw up their punchlines to their skits. All the same, as a historical record, the disc is invaluable and while English politics have changes, humor has not. "Fringe" is the "missing link" between the Goons and the Beatles and Monty Python.
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine show, but a poor recording,
This review is from: Beyond the Fringe [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)I don't have much to add to what other reviewers have said about the content of the show; it was a wonderfully silly (yet delightfully clever) piece of comedy, ahead of its time, with four immensely talented writer/performers. The downside, sadly, is that the video quality is really quite poor, and the audio quality is even worse. In several places the sound quality is so bad that I simply couldn't understand what was being said, which rather spoils the joke! To be fair, I am partially deaf - but I suspect even someone with normal hearing would often be struggling. It's an utter tragedy that the DVD publishers couldn't be bothered to include a subtitle track. :-(
Other negative points: you may or may not like the musical interludes with Dudley Moore playing the piano: they're certainly fun, but you also constantly find yourself thinking "well, yeah, but Victor Borge did this better". And some of the sketches you may also have seen in other recordings - in particular, the first Secret Policeman's Ball contained several "Beyond The Fringe" items.
Most of these are minor quibbles; the poor sound and video quality is genuinely annoying. But despite all that it's a piece of comedy history that is well worth owning.
5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Looking forward to this & thanks Roger!,
This review is from: Beyond the Fringe [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)I am very much looking forward to seeing this piece having played and loved the complete Beyond the Fringe collection for years.
By the way or not so incidentally: I take it the first reviewer here is Roger Wilmut - to my mind THE chronicler of post WW2 British Comedy and comedians (Hancock, Goons, Fringe, etc.). If you read this Roger, I wonder if you would consider another book - an overview of British comedy (soup to nuts), 1945 to the present? Anyway, more power to your elbow and thanks for all of your books which have been enjoyable as well as erudite. - Nick Moroney, Maryland and Ireland.
Most Helpful First | Newest First
Beyond the Fringe [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] by Duncan Wood (DVD - 2005)