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'Room for one more inside...'
on 15 September 2007
I've seen this classic film almost every time it's been shown on TV for the last 30 years, and it's great to be able to have a permanent copy for one's DVD library. Perhaps because the TV prints have always been poor, I'm not so bothered about the print quality as others seem to be (although the sound is rough in places). Sure, this deserves to have the full restoration business done, but that is very expensive, and I've been disappointed in the past with some American issues of classic films (NTSC to PAL conversion?) so I haven't tried that avenue. Yet.
To the film itself. I am concerned that younger viewers coming new to this film may have unreasonable expectations; it has dated certainly, having a very middle-class 30's/40's Englishness about it that may put some viewers off straight away. This of course would be a terrible shame. Ealing Studios themselves did it no favours by having as a poster (reproduced on the DVD box) a depiction of some weird monster- completely misleading as these are human, psychological, tales.
Over the years, I've asked people what their favourite of the five (six?) separate stories is. Although everyone remembers Michael Redgrave's fine performance with the ventriloquist's dummy, it is The Mirror which is remarked on more than you might expect. This is I think the deepest tale in terms of character development, and we really get drawn into the drama gradually unfolding. I've also always had a soft spot for the delightful Naunton/Wayne golf sequence, a gentle comedy in the middle of the film - giving us a breather before we get inexorably dragged towards that astonishing climax; as surreal as anything you will see in British cinema.
At its current preposterously low price I would snap this up. A better U.K. transfer may come along some day, but this will do in the meantime.
So go on, join Mervyn Johns, and visit Pilgrim's Farm.