Film Movement Acquires a Treasure Trove of Digitally Restored British Classics for Release on Loaded Blu-Ray
Since its launch in 2015, the Film Movement Classics label has been dedicated to seeking out distinctive films of the past from around the globe, and offering these digitally restored classics to cineastes everywhere. Following the recent theatrical releases of FRITZ LANG'S INDIAN EPIC and Bill Forsyth's coming-of-age classic GREGORY'S GIRL and the home entertainment releases of French farce THE MAD ADVENTURES OF RABBI JACOB and King Hu's pioneering wuxia film, THE FATE OF LEE KHAN, Film Movement has acquired a baker's dozen of British classics from the '40s-'60s for Blu-ray and digital release on the Film Movement Classics label beginning this December.
Joining a Film Movement Classics catalog that includes more than 50 restored films such as Sergio Corbucci's THE GREAT SILENCE, Oscar® winners PELLE THE CONQUEROR and ANTONIA'S LINE, Takeshi Kitano's Venice Golden Lion winner, HANA-BI, and Arturo Ripstein's feature-film debut, TIME TO DIE, each of these new home entertainment releases has been digitally restored for optimal enjoyment, and each release will feature numerous bonus features for an unparalleled viewing experience.
The first two British classics to be released on December 20, 2019 are THE TITFIELD THUNDERBOLT and PASSPORT TO PIMLICO, both hailing from Ealing Studios, whose output from the 1940s and 1950s helped define the Golden Age for British Cinema and the birthplace of the most delectable crop of films to decorate postwar cinema. It not only fostered great directors such as Alexander Mackendrick and Robert Hamer and towering stars such as Alec Guinness, Peter Sellers Stanley Holloway, Hugh Griffith, and Margaret Rutherford, but it produced a group of "veddy" British comedy classics that found audiences the world over.
From Charles Crichton, the director of The Lavender Hill Mob and A Fish Called Wanda, THE TITFIELD THUNDERBOLT (1953, 84 minutes), the first Ealing comedy to be made in color, tells the story of the inhabitants of Titfield, who endeavor to prove that their single-track railway is the only form of transport for the village. The villains of the piece are two unsavory characters who have introduced a smart brand new single-decker bus to Titfield. Crump and Pearce, owners of the bus company, are determined to cease the running of the Titfield train, by fair means or foul. The film starred Ealing regulars including Stanley Holloway, Naunton Wayne, George Relp, John Gregson and Hugh Griffith. Extras on the Blu-ray include, "Making the Titfield Thunderbolt", "The Lion Locomotive" and a Locations featurette, Home Movie Footage from Cinematographer Douglas Slocombe, Slocombe on Charles Crichton audio interview, the original trailer and an archival stills gallery.
Starring Stanley Holloway, Hermione Baddeley, Margaret Rutherford and Paul Dupuis, PASSPORT TO PIMLICO (1949, 84 minutes) is one of the most whimsically charming Ealing films from director Henry Cornelius (The Galloping Major). When an accidental explosion of an undetonated WWII German bomb unearths a buried cellar containing both fabulous riches and an unknown royal charter from King Edward IV that cedes the surrounding land to the last Duke of Burgundy, the town of Pimlico is turned upside down. Since the charter has never been rescinded, the London district of Pimlico is now legally the long-lost Duchy of Burgundy, and therefore no longer subject to British law, including postwar rationing and pub closure hours. The locals, quick to see the opportunities, do their best to take full advantage of the situation. Extras include a Locations featurette with Film Historian Richard Dacre, an interview with BFI Curator Mark Duguid, a restoration comparison and an archival slideshow.
The next release, arriving on February 18, 2020, is THE ALASTAIR SIM BLU-RAY COLLECTOR'S SET. Though he is perhaps best known for his role as Scrooge in the 1951 film adaptation of A Christmas Carol, Scottish character actor Alastair Sim is one of the best-loved and most prolific actors in classic British comedy. Often appearing in multiple roles, he starred in more than fifty films beginning in 1935 and was both critically acclaimed and unfailingly popular, regularly topping the cinema-goers popularity polls. This specially-curated set includes HUE AND CRY (1947, 82 minutes), LAUGHTER IN PARADISE(1951, 93 minutes), THE BELLES OF ST. TRINIAN'S (1954, 90 minutes) and SCHOOL FOR SCOUNDRELS (1960, 94 minutes).
The very first Ealing comedy, HUE AND CRY, directed by Charles Crichton, follows teenager Joe Kirby, who fantasizes that he's on the track of criminals, only to discover that it has all come true! After discovering that his favorite comic is being used as a means of communication between a master criminal and his gang of thieves, Joe sets out to alert the writer, played by Sim, and turn the page on the crooks. In LAUGHTER IN PARADISE, directed by Mario Zampi, famed practical joker Henry Russell leaves 50,000 pounds to each of his four surviving relatives. But his will has one last joke - they each have to undertake a task completely out of character within a month. As each sets out on their objective they find that quite apart from the promised riches, they are unexpectedly getting a lot out of the challenge. All except caddish Simon Russell, that is. THE BELLES OF ST. TRINIAN'S, directed by Frank Launder (scriptwriter for The Lady Vanishes and Night Train to Munich), features one of Sim's most unforgettable performances. In an all-girls school, where the unruly students are more interested in men and mischief than homework and hockey, the arrival of Princess Fatima of Makyad and the return of recently expelled Arabella Fritton inspire even more chaos than usual. Featuring an all-star star line-up, the cast includes Sim playing dual roles as both headmistress Miss Millicent Fritton and her twin brother (and Arabella's father) Clarence Fritton. Finally, in SCHOOL FOR SCOUNDRELS, directed by Robert Hamer (Kind Hearts and Coronets), Henry Palfrey (Ian Carmichael) tries hard to impress but always loses out to the rotter Delauney. Then he discovers the Lifeman college run by "Professor" Potter (Sim) and discovers the secrets of success. But has he the courage to put all his lessons into effect in this comedy based on the Stephen Potter "One Upmanship" and "Lifemanship" books .
Also arriving February 18 is the double feature WHISKY GALORE! and THE MAGGIE, which will be released on a single disc. 1949's WHISKY GALORE! (82 minutes) is one of Ealing's best-loved comedies - incidentally retitled Tight Little Island in the U.S., where it was smash hit. During the war, the remote Scottish island of Todday is starved for scarce whisky, until a shipwreck strands thousands of cases of "the water of life" tantalizingly within reach. Basil Radford is hilariously misguided as the island's chief of Defense, and Joan Greenwood lends her fetching presence - but every member of the large ensemble is terrific, directed by THE GIFTED Alexander Mackendrick (The Man in the White Suit, The Ladykillers, Sweet Smell of Success) in his directorial debut. Mackendrick also directed the 1954's THE MAGGIE (93 minutes), one of the fifty-odd puffer boats which chugged among the Western Isles of Scotland. Squat, unprepossessing, and badly in need of paint, she is destined for the scrap yard - at least until a misunderstanding welcomes the valuable cargo of the hard-charging American businessman, Calvin B. Marshall (Paul Douglas). It was originally released stateside as High and Dry.
Commemorate the bravery of a nation at war and experience all the explosive drama across land, sea and air in five British WWII classics, now presented uncut and fully restored on Film Movement Classics, arriving on March 10, 2020: WENT THE DAY WELL? (1942, 92 minutes), THE COLDITZ STORY (1955, 97 minutes), THE DAM BUSTERS, (1955, 124 minutes), DUNKIRK (1958, 135 minutes) and ICE COLD IN ALEX (1958, 124 minutes).
Bramley End, snug and safe, seemed far away from the events of World War II. Little did the villagers suspect the coming grim events in 1942's WENT THE DAY WELL?, directed by Alberto Cavalcanti. When lorry loads of Royal Engineers rolled onto Bramley End's village green, they had no reason to suspect that the soldiers were disguised German parachutists, and even less reason to mistrust the leader of their little community in this Ealing Studios film based on a story by Graham Greene.
The Germans believed that no man could escape from Colditz Castle, set as it was in the heart of the Reich, 400 miles from any neutral frontier. THE COLDITZ STORY, directed by Guy Hamilton (Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, Live and Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun) and based on Pat Reid's epic novel, tells the story of how the British, French, Dutch and Polish prisoners of war who were incarcerated in Colditz set out to prove their captors wrong.
Richard Todd and Michael Redgrave star in THE DAM BUSTERS, an epic WWII story directed by Oscar® nominated filmmaker Michael Anderson (Around the World in Eighty Days, Logan's Run). After inventing the "bouncing bomb," which can skip across water until it encounters a dam to explode, Dr. Barnes Wallis (Redgrave) struggles for years to develop his new device for use in World War II. Once the bombs are ready to be tested, Wing Commander Guy Gibson's (Todd) squadron must be specially trained to drop the sensitive weapons on Germany's Ruhr Dams. Based on true events, this British film features a legendary grand finale of special effects, including THE ATTACK on the dam and dogfighting scenes, which were the direct inspiration for THE ATTACK on the Death Star scenes in Star Wars!
It is early May: the year 1940. In London, the civil population, lulled into an atmosphere of false security, goes about its business as usual. Even the official war communiqué's merely report activity on the Front. But Charles Forman, war correspondent, knows better. As the war in France takes a turn for the worse, he signs on with the Merchant Navy and volunteers for the greatest mission ever mounted in the powerful DUNKIRK, directed by Leslie Norman and starring John Mills and Richard Attenborough.
John Mills, Sylvia Syms and Anthony Quayle star in ICE COLD IN ALEX. Directed by J. Lee Thompson (The Guns of Navarone), the filmis set against a thousand square miles of blazing, pitiless desert, and features a story so unusual, and so gripping that it could spring only from life itself. It's the Mediterranean of 1942; along the barren North African coast where war has turned towns into smoking ruins, and the grim struggle surges to and fro. But that is just the background; the story is about people, not war - and it happens to be true.
FILM MOVEMENT CLASSICS BRITISH BLU-RAY RELEASES
December 20, 2019:
THE TITFIELD THUNDERBOLT (Physical only)
PASSPORT TO PIMLICO (Physical only)
February 18, 2020:
THE ALASTAIR SIM BLU-RAY COLLECTOR'S SET
March 10, 2020:
WENT THE DAY WELL?
THE COLDITZ STORY
THE DAM BUSTERS (Physical only)
ICE COLD IN ALEX
Founded in 2002, Film Movement is a North American distributor of award-winning independent and foreign films based in New York City. It has released more than 250 feature films and shorts culled from prestigious film festivals worldwide. Film Movement's theatrical releases include American independent films, documentaries, and foreign art house titles. Its catalog includes titles by directors such as Hirokazu Kore-eda, Maren Ade, Jessica Hausner, Andrei Konchalovsky, Andrzej Wajda, Diane Kurys, Ciro Guerra and Melanie Laurent. In 2015, Film Movement launched its reissue label Film Movement Classics, featuring new restorations released theatrically as well as on Blu-ray and DVD, including films by such noted directors as Eric Rohmer, Peter Greenaway, Bille August, Marleen Gorris, Takeshi Kitano, Arturo Ripstein, King Hu, Sergio Corbucci and Ettore Scola.