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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Drama > Teens > Sex > Summer > Poverty > Depression > Class Division > British > Stage > Literature > M > Getting It On! (1983/VCI DVD)/Lady For A Day (1933/Columbia/B2MP Blu-ray)/On Approval (1944/B2MP Blu-ray)/Rockin' Road Trip (1983, 1985/VCI DVD)/Royal Flash (1975/Fox/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu

Getting It On! (1983/VCI DVD)/Lady For A Day (1933/Columbia/B2MP Blu-ray)/On Approval (1944/B2MP Blu-ray)/Rockin' Road Trip (1983, 1985/VCI DVD)/Royal Flash (1975/Fox/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/Summer School (1978/VCI DVD)

Picture: C/B/B-/C/B-/C Sound: C+/B-/B-/C+/B-/C- Extras: C+/B-/B-/C-/B/D Films: C/B-/B-/C/C+/C-

PLEASE NOTE: The Lady For A Day and On Approval Blu-rays are is only available from the B2MP label, while Royal Flash is a limited edition Blu-ray with only 3,000 copies produced and is only available from Twilight Time. Both companies can be reached to order their product at the links below.

You always hear that comedy is not easy and this interetsing mix of films from different times and places shows us how and why...

William Olsen's Getting It On! (1983) is yet another one of those coming of age teen comedies that came out of the 1970s, then were plastered with cliches and bad music by the 1980s, but this one is now an unintentionally funny indie variant with the guys who want to get to know gals in carnal ways going to great lengths to record them with new analog videotape equipment. This includes a song about their VCR (among the many forgettable, soundalike tunes here) set to a sloppy montage of them shopping at a hi-fi stereo store!

This one really shows its age in storyline and the cast of unknowns give passable performances, but this is am amusing enough time capsule worth a look despite al of its flaws. I had not seen it for many years and did find some new chuckles here, so the curious will not be too disappointed.

Extras include a feature length audio commentary track by Director Olsen to be heard after seeing the film, New York Auditions and Photo Featurette with Commentary by Olsen.

Frank Capra's Lady For A Day (1933) was one of the director's early triumphs and helped then Poverty Row studio Columbia Pictures get some respect as the Damon Runyon-based story stars May Robson as Apple Annie, who lies to her daughter about being a wealthy, happy, well-off woman living in a high rise when she sells apples to make a living. This works until her daughter decides to visit her after all these years and Annie has to act fast not to disappoint her.

Having the quick energy that made Capra a major director, he would revisit the story decades later for A Pocketful Of Miracles with Bette Davis, but this original was more class division conscious (especially during The Great Depression) and is still the more effective original, even if he never was very critical of the system that may have created said situation (unless inoculating such critiques with plot twists). Warren William, Guy Kibbie, Glenda Farrell, Ned Sparks and Jean Parker round out the cast and now on Blu-ray, you can see how good-looking a film this really is.

The big surprise is that Columbia Pictures is not the one issuing this film in this high definition special edition, but a terrific indie called B2MP. I cannot believe the great work they have done here and this alone puts them on the map among the best independent Blu-ray labels on the market. Fans will be impressed.

Extras include an illustrated paper foldout inside the Blu-ray case with an essay by film scholar Scott Eyman, while the Blu-ray disc adds a Still Gallery, a fine feature length audio commentary track by Frank Capra Jr., and a film restoration reel.

B2MP has also gone out of their way to restore and issue Clive Brook's hilarious British comedy On Approval (1944) to Blu-ray. This was made what turned out to be the latter years of WWII, but concerns itself with class division as two wealthy Victorian women (Googie Withers, Beatrice Lillie (Around The World In 80 Days, Thoroughly Modern Millie)) become seduction targets of two down and out men (Brook, also taking a lead role with Roland Culver (Life & Death Of Colonel Blimp, Dead Of Night, Thunderball, Fragment Of Fear)) in a comedy about manners, said division, how people interact and the things we value when we should not and vice versa. A real gem that got lost in the shuffle of WWII, politics and not doing as well as it should have at the time, it deserves serious reconsideration and rediscovery. Having a great Blu-ray like his to show how fine a film it is is only a plus and it looks good too.

The other reason I am surprised more people do not ask about this one is that the Frederick Lonsdale play was co-adapted by Brook with no less than 3-time James Bond film director Terence Young (Dr. No, From Russia With Love, Thunderball) known for giving that still-running series some of its permanent classiness and wit. Running only 80 minutes, what strikes me about the film is how once it starts, it never quits in its wit, grace and chemistry between its leads. I like this as much as any entry on the list and highly recommend it.

Extras include a Still Gallery from the BFI Collection, a solid feature length audio commentary track by film scholar Jeffrey Vance to be heard after seeing the film and a vintage interview with the film's co-star Googie Withers.

William Olsen's Rockin' Road Trip (1983, 1985) was Olsen's follow-up to Getting It On!, but the production had its original title protested and the script is less focused as a rock band called Cherry Suicide goes on their low rent tour and complications continuously ensue. A group derivative of The Runaways with a touch of Pat Benatar and Quarterflash, the fictional band does not have any memorable music and their escapades are nothing special, but it is one of the last films of its kind before music videos and changing trends made this kind of film unfeasible.

Olsen does what he can with the group of unknowns, but it only goes so far and I was no more impressed this time out than when I saw it eons ago. It is still a curio some will want to see, but time has not been as good to it has it has been to Getting It On!

Extras include On Set Photos with commentary by Olsen, who also is here in an on-camera interview.

Richard Lester's Royal Flash (1975) is based on a series of George MacDonald Frazier novels about one-time school bully Harry Flashman (from his book Tom Brown's Schooldays, which we have reviewed in its 1954 British feature film version (on VCI DVD) and 1971 British TV Mini-Series set) takes on the second book in the Flashman 12-book series and casts Malcolm McDowell in the role of the accidental hero (in a scene briefly referencing the first book) who turns out to be a coward and goof. He walks in and out of history without effecting it or being much affected by it, like Forrest Gump with much more of a brain.

Fox was apparently hoping for a series of films out of this one, but the era was Victorian Era was not big box office that year (as Kubrick's brilliant Barry Lyndon sadly demonstrated) so this landed up being a single film with mixed commercial and critical success. McDowell is backed by a great cast that includes a very serious Oliver Reed as Otto Von Bismark, Alan Bates, Florinda Bolkan, Tom Bell, Joss Ackland, Britt Ekland, Lionel Jeffries, Alastair Sim, Michael Horden, Christopher Cazenove, Bob Hoskins and David Jason, so talent in front of the camera was not a problem and equal to the crew behind it.

The problem is that the basic premise gets played out a bit too much by the halfway point of the film, which runs 102 minutes and seems like a lighter version of McDowell's adventures in his Angry Young Man films and Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange (1971), so Fraser (who also adapted his book into a screenplay and later penned the bond film Octopussy and unfortunate Red Sonja film) does not take the material into a new direction with the otherwise capable Lester. Even if we consider some jokes that might be too British for U.S. audiences, that was not enough to hold back the possibilities of the film.

Twilight Time has issued it as a Limited Edition Blu-ray here in the U.S. and I cannot imagine a nicer edition being issued. Extras include another solid booklet on the film inside the Blu-ray case including an essay by film scholar Julie Kirgo, while the Blu-ray adds a feature length audio commentary track by McDowell and film scholar Nick Redman that is a lot of fun, an Isolated Music Score track of Ken Thorne's music for the film, two Behind The Scenes featurettes (Inside Royal Flash, Meet Harry Flashman) and the Original Theatrical Trailer.

Bethel Buckalew's Summer School (1978) throws in everything it can to press every exploitation teen movie button, especially when it runs out of ideas (bullying is succeeded by a sexual assault sequence you would never see today) though despite being what we might now call grindhouse material, it is not stylized in the way we think of these film via the Tarantino revival of said aesthetics. Looking pale and dated as compared to similar fare from the time and more successful comedies (including by members of the original Saturday Night Live and SCTV), its desperation also shows how this cycle was on a downward trend, plus note its ideas of sex, beauty and attractiveness as the last gasps of the Beach Boys model. No doubt it will be a curio as well, but it too has only aged so well since the many years ago I saw it last. The majors like Paramount in Little Darlings were doing this kind of film with more thought as well, but the whole cycle has been oddly forgotten (thanks to the regressive 1980s, but more on that another time) and it still has a unique place in cinema history.

There are no extras.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black and white digital High Definition image transfers on Lady and Approval are more impressive than I expected, with Lady being the best image presentation on the list created from a surviving dupe print with solid results. Both can show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior to any previous editions of either I have seen, but Approval just shows a bit more wear. Still, they look so good, it is sometimes hard to believe they are as old as they are. Cheers to the B2MP gang for such great work.

The 1080p 1.66 X 1 digital DeLuxe color High Definition image transfer on Royal Flash needs some more work one on it with cell dust on the credits sequences and some more grain than usual in more than a few shots, plus other slight damage here and there. Color is consistent and the locations still shine through, thanks in part to the amazing work of Director of Photography Geoffrey Unsworth, B.S.C, (2001: A Space Odyssey, Superman - The Movie, Cabaret, Cromwell, Tess, Zardoz) delivering rich, dense visuals as counterpoint to the comedy and wacky action throughout.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.66 X 1 image on Getting It On! and 1.33 X 1 presentations on Summer School and Rockin' Road Trip are all 35mm productions, but the transfers tend to be dated-looking and not as great as they could look. Especially considering their emphasis on summertime, they should be upgraded for posterity and Blu-ray at some point because that would look better and likely yield surprising results.

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix on Royal Flash is not bad for its age, showing how professionally recorded the film was at the time, but it still can show its age in some distortion points and dated fidelity at times. The PCM 2.0 Mono on Lady and Approval may sound older, but are very close in sounding as good and have never sounded better. That leaves the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on the three summer-themed DVDs not sounding as good despite being newer productions, but Summer School has a very distorted, low-volume soundtrack throughout, so be careful of volume switching and playback levels.

You can order the Lady For A Day and On Approval Blu-rays, go to this link:


and to order the Royal Flash limited edition Blu-ray, get it them while supplies last at this link:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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