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on 8 July 2014
The stage version of What a Crazy World came about in 1962 when Gerry Raffles heard Joe Brown sing Alan Klein's song of that name on TV and commissioned him to write a musical for Theatre Workshop. Klein had tired of singing exclusively American songs during a stint at Butlins and wrote a song in the style of George Formby which didn't try to emulate the subject matter of American songs.

The resulting musical was a popular success despite some adverse critical reaction. Robert Stigwood offered to put it on in the West End with Mike Sarne in the lead but Klein opted for Michael Carreras' offer to make a film of it because "a film's gonna be there forever." And thank goodness he did, because now, more than fifty years on, we can still enjoy it on this Network DVD.

Existing fans of the film can be reassured that the restoration is fine. It's a joy to see such sharpness and clarity compared to the ropey off-air copy I have had to make do with until now. True, when the film begins, and at a few other points like a conversation between Joe Brown and Harry H Corbett, you hear a little faint scratchiness, but that's far preferable to overprocessing of sound. So to anyone who has been hesitating, worry no more - it's worth getting. And the film deserves a whole new generation of fans.

A Hard Day's Night has also recently been issued in a newly restored version. It was the film whose release suddenly made the film of What a Crazy World look like a period piece, according to Klein, but now both films can be seen and appreciated without any need for comparison.

Alan Klein says of What a Crazy World, "It was a document of its time ... All I was doing was saying what people felt." It's a world of disaffected youth, unemployment and the temptations of petty crime, and a yawning, seemingly unbridgeable gulf between parents and children. The title song mocks the parents for their negligence ("No one seems to notice me") and their preferring bingo and betting to quality family time, but there's a counterbalancing song shared by the mother and father, surrounded by their mates at the bingo hall and dog track, in which they protest that their supposed entertainments are not about having a good time but trying to win a bit of money to buy their kids the possessions and gadgets they were never able to afford in their own youth which their materialistic children demand as a right. As with Steptoe and Son, both sides of the generation divide are given a say.

What is very clear throughout the film, however, is that young and old haven't found a way of communicating with each other, and that isn't resolved by the end. Alf (Joe Brown) plays his family the record he has just made. This might have made for a triumphal ending in another sort of film but there is an almighty barney and the record is forgotten. So all that has happened by the climax is that grievances have been loudly aired, and the finale has everyone singing part of the title song, so that it no longer seems to belong to the Joe Brown character, the young complaining about the old, but allows everyone to have a go.

But if that makes the film sound like a gloomy prospect, it's anything but. And what makes the film special from a musical point of view is its successful marriage of rock'n'roll with music hall: throughout, there is a warmth and a verve that you can't resist. It may be a crazy world, but it's one you will want to embrace. The cast, including many Theatre Workshop regulars, are superb. Harry H Corbett is the father and Avis Bunnage the mother. Alan Klein himself is one of the layabouts who cluster around Herbie Shadbolt, played by Marty Wilde. Really the only slightly weak link is Susan Maughan, not really suited to the part of Alf's girlfriend. Wilde himself is very good, as is Joe Brown. The device of Michael Ripper as a kind of common man is also very effective.

I could say a lot more if time permitted, but all that needs to be said is that this is a long, long way away from your Cliff Richard musicals or other pop exploitation films. It has a foot in reality, even though it's carnivalesque at times, as in the scene in the labour exchange. Someone compared it to Quadrophenia, but it takes itself far less seriously. I urge you to take a chance on this modestly priced DVD for a film which is gritty, witty and, above all, teeming with life.
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on 11 July 2014
Magic ! Just as good as the day it was released.
Hell's Geriatric.
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on 19 July 2014
A great 60s musical and although it is stuck in a timewarp is still good.Joe Brown and Marty Wilde are still touring to this day and are just as good as they ever were.Harry Corbett and the supporting cast including Susan Maughan are good and the movie is highly recommended.
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on 7 August 2014
Absolutely great . I read reviews on how the quality was poor but they have either reproduced the film or with our dvd players and tv*s it was 100% better than old versions.. i would say it's worth it and value for money.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 11 January 2016
Being a Joe Brown fan I am a bit surprised that I never seem to have seen this film, either in the cinema or on TV. My loss. NETWORK have produced a splendid transfer 2.35.1 ratio (but I should add for the sake of some possible buyers that the print is slightly cropped at the sides - you notice it when the titles appear, but in all honesty it did not spoil my enjoyment.) The scope transfer has bars top and bottom, excellent crisp B/W picture with good sound. No subs., but a theatrical trailer as an extra. For me the film was pure joy, having seen Joe, Marty and London in 1963 (date of filming). The locations are fascinating, including Denmark street and the Noel Gay Agency with whom I had many dealings when I worked in the BBC in the 80's and 90's. We get housing estates and tourist spots galore. Lovely! The pleasant surprise for me was the natural performences from Joe and Marty Wilde (unlike Harry H. who once again showed he could never convince as a cockney), along with Michael Ripper as "The Common Man (he appears in every scene in different characterisations). Susan Maughan struggles with her acting but sings nicely and her ballad is actually quite moving. The songs aren't show stoppers as such, but they are performed with gusto (I wonder if "Our Labour exchange has gone to rack and ruin" rings bells today !) If I have one grumble it is that for some bizarre reason we never hear the complete title song as performed by Joe and the "Bruvvers", only part of it. Why? 89 minutes pass quickly and I loved every minute. Not for everyone of course, but Joe/Marty/Susan fans should like it, and for those of us of a certain age it's a great nostalgia trip.
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on 18 August 2014
This film was made in cinemascope. Unfortunately,as with the Charlie drake film, "Petticoat Pirates," also released by Network, it doesn't display properly, the edges of the picture are missing. I've checked it on my computer and on that it DOES display properly. So it seems that the overscanning issue mentioned in the reviews for, "Petticoat Pirates," applies here as well. Oh dear, Network, who are you getting to author these discs for you? They're not doing them the best way are they? We have other cinemascope films that display properly so obviously there is no need to do them they way they are. You need to put this right for us please.

Having said that this is a nice piece of nostalgia. See the way the girls used to dress in those days, the lovely Susan Maughn wearing dresses flared from the waist with fitted bodices and high heeled shoes. Hair, not quite a beehive in this film but still high. Then there's Joe's suit and tie. Yep, I remember those days - showing my age now arn't I? Plenty of songs in this one, the main one being, "What a Crazy World." Marty Wilde is here as is Michael Ripper playing multiple roles, remember him? He was always an innkeeper or a policeman or a peasant in the Hammer films. Freddie and the Dreamers are here too, singing, "We Wear Short Shorts."

I have the LP...yes, I said LP, for those of you who don't know that stands for long player...it's a vinyl record now seen in museums. Anyway the back of the record lists a song by Michael Goodman called, "I Sure Know a Lot About Love." which does not appear in the movie. Perhaps those of you who are more familliar with this film could tell us if it has been cut or was this a bonus song for the LP, like we used to get on Elvis soundtracks?

Now for a bit of twisted logic. This movie was originally certified "A" certificate, which meant that persons of any age could see it. Now it's a "12" which means that only those over 12 can see it. It contains the most startling scene from, "Curse of Frankenstein," then certified "X" and now "12" How is it that any one could see, "Crazy World," then but now they have to be over 12? And how did they have the best scene, the one where the monster rips of the bandages from his face, from an "X" film in an "A" film? Humm, strange thinking.
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on 3 September 2014
I had seen this film on TV some years ago. For anyone into 60's London nostalgia this is for you. Almost completely filmed on location with many familiar old faces of the music world.
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on 9 May 2014
in response to the earlier question.......i've purchased many network releases and they have always been of the
highest possible quality. BUY WITH CONFIDENCE.
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on 24 July 2014
A brilliant journey back to the 60's
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on 8 February 2016
Very good sound and video quality I wasn't expecting it to be so good. The music was very enjoyable especially the Joe Brown track. I don't recal ever seeing Joe Brown acting before so nice to see and he did very well too. Marty Wild played a good part too. Nice to see the 60s fashions, dancing and attitudes we had back then, how things have changed now but not for the best I regret to say. I really enjoyed this film and its a good film to add to my 60s collection.
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