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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unseen Ealing!
Network DVD distributors should be very highly commended for their perseverance in finally enabling these rare Ealing films to be seen on home video. Licenced from StudioCanal, this four-film set is the first volume of what appears to be an ongoing commitment from the British distributors. It also ties in with their excellent 'British Film' collection, which sees a large...
Published 16 months ago by T Everson

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22 of 37 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Mixed Bag of Quality
I feel slightly churlish about giving this collection only two stars as it's great to see the deep archive of Ealing being released. However I do feel that if you state you are doing new quality transfers in your advertising then you have to live up to that. The first film Escape is of very poor quality both sound and image. It may have been newly transferred but that is...
Published 16 months ago by Pappa don't preach


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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unseen Ealing!, 7 May 2013
By 
T Everson (Shropshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Ealing Studios Rarities Collection - Volume 1 [DVD] (DVD)
Network DVD distributors should be very highly commended for their perseverance in finally enabling these rare Ealing films to be seen on home video. Licenced from StudioCanal, this four-film set is the first volume of what appears to be an ongoing commitment from the British distributors. It also ties in with their excellent 'British Film' collection, which sees a large number of previously-neglected British films finally released onto DVD (and, in special cases, Blu-ray). The four films are spread over two discs which are housed in a 'slim-line' case (as are all films in this collection), which for the more space-limited of us is a blessing, and also means they look good sat together on the shelf.

But what of the films themselves? First of all we get 'Escape' from 1930, produced by Basil Dean's Associated Talking Pictures, which the following year moved to the now-legendary studios at Ealing. So if anything, this pre-dated Ealing studios, but deserves its place here as the first ever film from what was to become Ealing, but also as one of the first 'talkies' to come out of Britain. The film is based on a 1921 play and tells the story of a gentleman who finds himself a victim of circumstance and forced to become a fugitive in the English countryside. We then see the reactions of the ordinary people with whom he comes into contact. Like all of the films here, this isn't some undiscovered classic, but it's an enjoyable film which rolls along at a good pace and never outstays its welcome. Considering the age of 'Escape', the picture is in very good shape (no doubt helped by the fact that virtually no one has been able to see it for the last eight decades), though obviously there are some signs of damage - these are never distracting. The audio, as was typical for the time, is less satisfactory and not helped by some of the upper-class English accents which are occasionally difficult to comprehend.

Next up is 'West of Zanzibar' from 1954. The only film on this set filmed in Technicolor, it looks very good and the image is vivid, bright and in excellent condition. The film itself is very much a by-the-numbers adventure story which I found to be the weakest on the set, though still worth watching. The colonial overtones are obviously harder to overlook in these more enlightened times, but save for a few racial words that you'd never hear nowadays (in civilised conversation at least!) there's nothing terribly offensive here.

'Penny Paradise' is the most notable film included here, as it is directed by the great British filmmaker Carol Reed (The Third Man). Made in 1938 before his later success, it's a fascinating look at some of the director's early techniques. This is a straight up working-class comedy, with a few musical numbers thrown in for good measure. There's some good acting and typically good direction here and it's certainly the most entertaining film on the set. Notably, the lead is played by 18-year-old Betty Driver, who would later become familiar to millions for her long-standing role on UK soap-opera 'Coronation Street', cooking her legendary hotpots. Again, the print is in good condition and all told the film looks better than could be expected.

The final film on this collection is the all-but-forgotten 'Cheer Up!' from 1936. Again, this is a comedy with an assortment of fairly catchy musical numbers and really deserves to have been seen more widely than it's been allowed. So few people have seen this that it has just 7 ratings on IMDb. Again, the picture is as would be expected with no major damage to be seen and is taken, like all films on the set, from "new transfers from the best available elements".

They've also made room for a few extras on here - there is an image gallery, a theatrical trailer for 'West of Zanzibar', and also promotional material for the same film in PDF format.

Anyone expecting a collection of undiscovered gems will likely be disappointed by this collection. But approached in the right way, none of these films are ever less than entertaining, and we really are very fortunate to be the situation where we can finally watch and rewatch these film from the comfort of our own sofas. To anyone with an interest in Ealing studios or classic British cinema in general it goes without saying that at this price it's a no-brainer. I was very tempted to give this five-stars, but with such a wide range of films it's almost inevitable that something here won't be your taste, and I didn't really enjoy 'West of Zanzibar', though am grateful that it's included here. Hopefully these sets will continue to sell well, and many more neglected Ealing films can finally find their way to DVD.
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5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic films, 28 Mar 2014
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This review is from: The Ealing Studios Rarities Collection - Volume 1 [DVD] (DVD)
i love these old black and white British films this is a great collection worth watching they beat today's films by miles
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5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT, 9 Feb 2014
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B. Gilbert (TADWORTH SURREY ENGLAND) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Ealing Studios Rarities Collection - Volume 1 [DVD] (DVD)
SO WE BEGIN ON A LONG AWAITED SERIES OF LONG LOST BRITISH FILMS FROM ONE OF OUR BEST STUDIOS
THE QUALITY OF THE PRINTS USED IS AMAZING..AND WITH 4 FILMS ON EACH ISSUE AT A GREAT PRICE TOO..DON'T HESITATE IN BUYING AND HERE'S TO A LONG RUNNING SERIES
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4.0 out of 5 stars First four of a long line??, 9 July 2013
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This review is from: The Ealing Studios Rarities Collection - Volume 1 [DVD] (DVD)
Have purchased most of these reissues and am really enjoying them. More economical way to purchase than buying the single versions for some of these films. Whiskey Galore is a case in point.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A mixed bag with some interesting and worthwhile content., 4 Sep 2013
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This review is from: The Ealing Studios Rarities Collection - Volume 1 [DVD] (DVD)
Disc One of this set contains the two titles "Escape" and "West of Zanzibar". The first is in B&W with poor picture and sound quality. The story line for the film is interesting but the production less than satisfactory in many ways. centering on a respectable ex-army office with a kind heart falling foul of the law when he attempts to shield a London prostitute. He is sent to Dartmoor Prison for a longish sentence but manages to escape from a working party in misty conditions. His adventures in attempting to distance himself from his pursuers forms the backbone of the tale. The acting is sometimes quite unconvincing but the tale is sad and one can identify with the man's predicament.

"West of Zanzibar" is in Technicolor but both colour and focus are poor. I found this the least interesting of the four films in this collection

Both films on Disc Two are superior in picture and sound quality to the above. Moreover, their content is also more engaging. "Penny Paradise" is a glorious satire on the power of wealth with a message that never fades. It runs upon an old formula, ie. the fake winning of a sizable sum of money by an ordinary working man (a tug captain on the Mersey in this case) with the social interplay that inevitably follows. All parts are played to a high standard with the pretence of wealth only breaking close to the end of the film

"Cheer Up" has both a tolerable picture and sound standard in this "semi-musical" that introduces us to the young Sally Gray before she became recognised primarily for her glamour and the quality of her acting. An interesting if rather simple story line but which matches the calibre of the actors well.

Another mixed bag, as I say, but good value for money in my opinion.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First of a great series., 16 Jun 2013
By 
Mr. R. N. Willcox (orpington, kent, uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Ealing Studios Rarities Collection - Volume 1 [DVD] (DVD)
This is the first of a series of rare Ealing collections from Studio Canal and Network. Headed by WEST OF ZANZIBAR and followed by three ultra rare Thirties curios. Excellent prints and value.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ealing rare films Vol 1, 8 May 2013
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This review is from: The Ealing Studios Rarities Collection - Volume 1 [DVD] (DVD)
Excellent, four very entertaining films three of which gave an insight into the pre war era while West of Zanzibar was.an excellent wild life drama. Betty Driver gave a very similar performance to her Coronation Street role in the 1938 Penny Paradise.
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22 of 37 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Mixed Bag of Quality, 12 April 2013
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This review is from: The Ealing Studios Rarities Collection - Volume 1 [DVD] (DVD)
I feel slightly churlish about giving this collection only two stars as it's great to see the deep archive of Ealing being released. However I do feel that if you state you are doing new quality transfers in your advertising then you have to live up to that. The first film Escape is of very poor quality both sound and image. It may have been newly transferred but that is it. There are no discernible audio or picture corrections, and an increadible amount of audio distrortion, image spakle, diret and dust as well as damaged frames. I would expect this from a 1930s film normally but this collection is being sold as a quality collection. The other three films are marginally better apart from Penny Paradise wihch has gone through some extensive noise reduction, but I gather this was shown at the NFT a few years ago so was probably already done before this release. What is really surprising is that the menus are very poor with no chapter selection available even though there are chapters on the DVD. The only logo on the discs is the Studio Canal one - there is no Network logo - so I can only assume that as a quality label they don't want to put their name to this release. It's such a shame that these films are done on what is clearly a very low budget with poor technical specs but I can only assume that as these are at the bottom of the Rank barrel it's not worth the effort to put money into them. As for the films they are a product of their time: the sets are cardboard, the acting is wooden and the plots are as thin as the scenery but they are still part of our film heritage. However, I don't think I'll be adding to this collection with the next volume, I would rather Network have put quality into the best film - Penny Paradise - rather than surround it with chaff that I don't really want. Sometimes, some quota films are best left in the vaults for film historians.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Youth, 18 July 2013
By 
J. Wise "John" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Ealing Studios Rarities Collection - Volume 1 [DVD] (DVD)
Once again enjoying films I used to see at my local cinemas when there were so many around, in my teens & 20s
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6 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars not as expected, 15 May 2013
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Mrs. Lesley Smith (london england UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Ealing Studios Rarities Collection - Volume 1 [DVD] (DVD)
as a pensioner grew up on the old black/white films. loved the old actors, but i am sorry that i pre ordered all of these rarities ie vol 1, 2 and 3. this vol is the only one i have seen so far and its got 4 boring films on it. wasted my money. my own fault i suppose as i loved all the ealing comedies and assumed these would be great too, they are not.
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