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on 14 January 2003
A great buy! These three comedy films are great fun to watch. I would recommend to start with "That Riviera Touch" as it gives the best introduction to the starring duet of comedians and is also the best of all three. I think I am going to watch this one until I know the phrases by heart - good for my ability to imitate British English which is not my mother tongue, unfortunately (anybody having a clue as to where I could get a copy of the script???). My 8-year old daughter also has fun watching it, in spite of not understanding English at all (yet).
Secondly, "The Intelligence Men" is a cynical parody on James Bond clichés, so having seen the early James Bond films would increase one's capacity of appreciating that one. I found it funnier the second time I watched it. It occurs to me that I have to laugh at some of the scenes thinking about them a couple of days later (which either proves that I'm real dumb or that I'm not English or both).
Last not least, "The Magnificent Two" features what might be some real English black humour (if my anthropological analysis is right), however, it also has some scenes which smack of that kind of cheapish boulevard-press-style stereotypical "erotic" wit which was typical for the late sixtees - so that one I found a bit embarrassing at one point. However, having overcome that slight cultural shock, I find that also that third film has some very good fun scenes and given the price of the set you really should buy this box and enjoy three times a bit over 90 minutes approximately of "jolly good" English entertainment.
There is a cultural gap now between our age and the age of Morecambe and Wise - this makes them a bit of an antiquity, legendary and charmingly cranky-crotchety. One has to really adapt some to these films - the humour is of a different kind when compared to what you have today in films, this makes watching them both a bit demanding now (in spite of their obviously having been hilariously undemanding and popular for English people back in the 60ies) and a refreshing relief from the contemporary mainstream film culture.
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on 12 April 2010
Eric and Ernie in action are always a marvel to behold. The Intelligence Men is one of the best British films ever made.
That Riveria Touch even has the duo singing the theme!
The Magnificent Two is included here also.
I watched these films in reverse order, that way they get better and better. Undeniably, The Intelligence Men is the best, whilst The Magnificent Two is the worst.
It's always a pleasure to watch these two, regardless of the quality of the material. If they'd made more, maybe they'd have gelled a bit more (nobody mention Night Train to Murder). They do their best throughout.
This three disc boxset has practically no special features (the odd trailer here and there), but is a must have for all fans of Eric & Ernie, even if you only watch them once. (I've only rewatched The Intelligence Men, myself)
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on 10 March 2006
Eric and Ern are not so highly regarded for their big movie outings, but time passing and not a little nostalgia have made this trio of films shot at Pinewood in the South of France in the mid-sixties, well worth a revisit. What struck me seeing them again all these years later is how good are their production values. Eric's innocence and Ernie's beligerent confidence dovetail beautifully in a latter-day Stan and Ollie format. All three are enjoyable, but That Riviera Touch is sublime. My four kids fall about during the whole of that movie.
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Intended by the Rank Organisation as a replacement for Norman Wisdom when he made noises about leaving the studio, Morecambe and Wise's big screen career never really took off - hardly surprising considering the poor quality of their first two films. Part of the problem was that, despite their TV work showing the influence of screen double acts like Laurel and Hardy, the scripts never really played to their strengths: no extended routines, no amateur dramatics, no comic musical numbers, just characters that could probably be played by most capable comic actors throwing in the odd bit of backchat. Fine as long as the backchat was funny, but too often the scripts were flat and the situations old stock well past their sell by date. But at least this set brings their three features together in one budget package, though ITV Studios have spared almost every expense on mastering the DVDs themselves.

The Intelligence Men is the most Morecambe and Wise of their films: it may play at times like a script intended for Norman Wisdom and Jerry Desmonde, but it's been reworked to allow them plenty of room for comic routines, verbal and physical, a couple of comic dance numbers and Ernie's love of amateur dramatics with his constant disguises while Eric gets to play the cowardly smart Alec. Both stars get to play themselves (or at least their on-stage personas) rather than being shoehorned into different and untried characters and there are some nicely cinematic bits of business, particularly Eric being lured into the right office by following a series of attractive women. The plot is fairly thin, with Eric mistaken for a dead hitman who was really an undercover British secret agent and his MI5 handler Ernie going through a slew of quick change disguises as they try to uncover an assassination plot. Parts of it completely fall flat while others never rise much above the modestly amusing, yet it's the kind of film that's rather better than you remember it being: it's certainly not a patch on the best of their TV work at the BBC, but enough of it works modestly often enough to provide a fair amount of enjoyment.

Unfortunately there's nothing to enjoy about the DVD transfer, with ITV Studios offering a non-anamorphic widescreen transfer that's been DNRed to death - the excessive Dolby Noise Reduction often softens the image to near waxwork levels and adds slight and unwelcome blurring to fast movement. You're probably better off recording it off the TV the next time it's on. The only extra is a tatty fullscreen transfer of the original trailer.

Morecambe and Wise's second stab at big screen fame, That Riviera Touch, is easily their worst, seeing them saddled with a stock plot and too few gags as traffic wardens who beat a hasty retreat to the south of France after giving the Queen a parking ticket only to get innocently involved in one-eyed smuggler Paul Stassino's deadly dirty deeds. Cue disappearing corpses, Suzanne Lloyd's appealing femme not-quite-fatale and the inevitable `big' back projection-heavy comic climax (in this case a water skiing and parasailing chase) that doesn't deliver much in the way of laughs or thrills.

While their first film tried to exploit the strengths of their TV routines, there's next to none of that here: no extended routines, no amateur dramatics, only one comic musical number (with Eric miming to Ernie's singing to woo Ms Lloyd) and only a couple of running gags. It's the sort of weak effort that could have been played by most capable comic actors despite the odd modestly amusing moment here and there. It's painless if you're in a forgiving mood, but the material is just too thin to work as a film.

To add to the general half-heartedness of the film itself, ITV Studios' DVD is a poor fullframe transfer that, like their other Morecambe and Wise features, has had far too much Dolby Noise Reduction applied to it, softening the image and adding the odd moment of blurring.

"We were doing quite all right until you opened your big mouth. `Long live the President.'"
"How was I to know they'd just shot him?"

Their final shot at the movies, 1967's The Magnificent Two, is not a great movie by any stretch of the imagination but it's certainly a considerable improvement even if it is more mildly amusing than funny. This time they're a pair of down on their luck travelling salesmen trying to sell Action Man figures in the middle of a South America revolution until - as anyone who's ever seen a comedy involving South American politics can guess - Eric's resemblance to the dead figurehead of the revolutionaries sees him catapulted to the presidency where he naturally becomes a target for the people who put him in power.

You can't exactly accuse Rank of stinting on the production values here: South America may have exactly the same vegetation as Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire in the same way that every British country road in a 40s Hollywood film looked just like Coldwater Canyon and the capital city will be familiar to anyone who's seen The Singer Not the Song, but there are surprisingly elaborate and destructive action scenes, as well as a surprisingly high body count for a comedy. The latter starts to make sense when you remember that producer Hugh Stewart was himself a combat photographer who was the uncredited director of the Oscar-winning wartime documentary Desert Victory and was an advisor on Schindler's List because of the footage he shot of the liberation of Belsen. Not that the film is exactly a weighty treatise on the horrors of war: it all ends with the kind of sexist joke involving female soldiers that you'd never get away with today. Bananas it's not, but it has its nostalgic charms as inoffensive rainy day stuff, as pleasant and instantly forgettable as Ron Goodwin's jaunty score.

ITV Studios' DVD is letterboxed, but the print is faded and has had way too much Dolby Noise Reduction applied to it - the cast don't quite leave vapor trails in their wake as they move across the screen, but there's certainly some unwelcome blurring in places. Ironically the picture quality on the theatrical trailer included has none of those problems.
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on 5 May 2009
Maybe it's because I am from the US, but i found the m2 the best of the three. Predated woody allen's bannanas, but covers all the same ground. I laughed out loud, and it moves fast. Best opening, and realistic violence that allows the comedy to be a little hard edged. I enjoy the tv show, but I wish they had kept on making movies as well.

Riviera Touch, seems slow to me, and very little room for comedy, And It men has some very funny bits. I don't think you need to wrap your mind around a previous time, You just have to enjoy.

All three are worth it, wish there was more.
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on 9 January 2011
Like everybody in the universe, I loved (and still do) Eric and Ernie. However, having never heard of them before, my first introduction to the dynamic duo was through the movie 'The Intelligence Men'. I thought I was going to see a another James bond type adventure. To my surprise this tall guy with glasses stared out at me from the silver screen and from that moment I was hooked. From the opening credits until the end Eric and Ernie had me in stitches. I confess I saved my pocket money and went back to see it several more times. This movie was followed by 'That Riviera Touch' and 'The Magnificent Two' the latter being the weakest plot of the three movies, but all I needed was just to look at the two great comics who had now become my heroes.
You might forgive an old guy (45 years later) his nostalgia. In my Part of the world We did not have the luxury of B.B.C. Eric and Ernie were now doing their ultimate every week and also those Christmas Specials, and we all know by now, every well known celebrity put their head on the block for Eric and Ernie, and they took no prisoners, which made for fabulous shows.

This trilogy of movies hold a special place in my heart, because it is where I saw them first. It has been said that Eric and Ernie were never really happy with these movies and even strived later on in years to return to the silver screen (leaving the BBC for ITV because of a promised movie deal) I also don't think that duo really came to terms with the medium to which they were kings, which of course was television.

On a final note if you are a Morecambe & Wise fan you wont go wrong with this purchase, its not television its movies.....'What do you think of it so far?
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on 8 August 2009
Whilst the widely held view that Eric and Ernie were not at their best in films is true, these innocent pieces of family fun at a bargain price would fill three wet afternoons with children over ten or make one old adult laugh out loud. That's rare that is, Ern, you just don't get that with the modern stuff. They don't make it like they used to you know. Craftsmanship that was, craftsmanship.
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The intelligence men is a riot from start to finish, with Eric and Ern on top form - Eric's the child-like innocent, Ernie is the ambitious buffoon. The final scenes with Swan Lake are an absolute hoot.
That Riveria Touch is like an Abbott and Costello film, but again hugely enjoyable.
The Magnificent Two is the least of the three.
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on 27 October 2011
I purcahsed this for my husband who loved the Morecombe and Wise movies. I looked on Amazon 1st and found them, so everyone was happy. Thank you Gabby
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on 7 April 2013
I loved the two main more well known films in this set although a bit corny but very funny. Morecambe and Wise at their best. Had never seen the one set in South America before, I don't think this has ever been shown on tv. Look out for Peter Butterworth's little boy in this film. A must for all M&W fans, this box set. My Dad, for whom this was bought but he never got to see it, really loved these two gents. Also bought the Xmas Shows which are hilarious too. Classics!!
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