Ealing Classics

Starring: Sir John Mills, Mervyn Johns, Leslie Banks, Cedric Hardwicke and Stanley Holloway
Warner Home Video
RRP: 34.99
Certificate: PG
Available now

The Ealing Classics collection represents a strange mix of movies. There is a light-hearted war time drama with a tragic ending, a Dickensian classic, a gripping collection of short horror stories and a thrilling true life adventure.

Not only do the movies vary in their themes, but the quality of their reproduction also changes drastically. From the crisp print that is Went The Day Well? to the truly criminal botch job that is Dead of Night. But more of that later...

Went The Day Well? Is set in sleepy little Bromley End during World War II. The residents believe that they are safe from the events of the war, and welcome the lorry loads of Royal Engineers rolling onto their quiet green acres. Little do they suspect that they are really disguised German parachutists installing radar apparatus to disrupt England's entire network. Nor did they suspect their community leader was a traitor...

This is a light-hearted movie that looks at what would happen if enemy troops infiltrated a quite village in the middle of nowhere. Wartime propaganda this certainly is (released in 1942) as ordinary woman and men take up arms against Hitler's elite and... win - obviously. There are some depressing scenes with "our boys" been gunned down in cold blood, but it is a well played out movie... now where's my Vera Lynn album? It also stars a young Thora Hird and Patricia Hayes. The quality of the print is amazing, as is the (mono) soundtrack.

Dead of Night consists of five separate ghost stories which are woven into the framework of a country house party tale. The stories range from a chilling tale of a man who sees the reflection of another room in his mirror, to the light-hearted story of two golfing pals who both fall in love with the same woman...

This is a fantastically creepy movie that is let down by one thing - a bloody awful film to DVD transfer. There are scratches on the film, terrible sound the brightness levels vary from reel to reel - there is one reel that is so bleached that most of the finer detail of the picture has been erased. This is a terrible shame, especially as this movie was released three years after Went The Day Well? - which receives a stunning transfer.

Nicholas Nickleby is Ealing's take on the Charles Dicken's classic tale of one mans struggle to protect his family from a scheming uncle and a cruel Victorian world...

This is critically acclaimed masterpiece overflowing with grotesque characters and filled with the authentic and robust Dickens spirit. The quality of this disc is not too bad, but it's not as good as it should be.

Scott Of The Antarctic stars Sir John Mills as Captain Scott in a thrilling account of the dangerous 1912 expedition to conquer the South Pole...

Visually stunning and incredibly moving, this movie is a classic that really should be in everyone's collection.

With no extras, and questionable quality film reproductions, this is a collection that could have been so much more. Sadly, as it stands, you are probably better off hunting around for video copies.

Darren Rea

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