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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Mystery > Satire > British > Slice Of Life > Teens > Drama > Class Division > Ageism > Judaism > Spor > Slings and Arrows: The Complete Series (2003 - 6/Acorn DVD Set/reissue)/Step By Step: The Complete Seventh & Final Season (1997 - 1998/DVD/*both Warner Archive)

Alastair Sim's School For Laughter (1947 - 1960/Film Movement Blu-ray Set)/A Little Romance (1979/Orion/Blu-ray*)/Give Me Liberty (2019/Music Box Blu-ray)/The Merger (2018/IndiePix DVD)/Slings and Arrows: The Complete Series (2003 - 6/Acorn DVD Set/reissue)/Step By Step: The Complete Seventh & Final Season (1997 - 1998/DVD/*both Warner Archive)

Picture: B/B/C+/B/B-/B- Sound: C+/B-/C+/B/B-/B- Extras: B/C-/A/C-/B-/D Main Programs: C+/C+/B+/C+/B/C+

PLEASE NOTE: The A Little Romance Blu-ray and Step By Step DVD are only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.

And now for a new slew of comedies, including a few sets to keep you watching...

We start with four comedies that have a big enough following, from the Ealing Studios. Alastair Sim's School For Laughter (1947 - 1960) has the actor now best known for playing Scrooge in the 1947 A Christmas Carol (reviewed on Blu-ray elsewhere on this site) that remains one of the most popular adaptations ever of that classic. Though we get some religion in the four films in this new Blu-ray set from Film Movement (rolling out a nice group of such comedies of late), these films are all different and have their moments, their reasons they were successful in their time. It should be noted that Sim sometimes is only ion a few scenes in some of these films.

Charles Crichton's Hue and Cry (1947) is the best-directed and most energetic of the four films as a group of children form a local religious school start to (in some disbelief) suspect that a pulp newspaper comic book they like to read is containing codes for which criminals are using to steal and commit all kinds of crimes. What could have been the start of a movie series (think Our Gang/Little Rascals, Bowery Boys, etc.) is played for laughs all the way, does not try to establish any kind of franchise and Sim plays the comic book writer!

Mario Zampi's Laughter In Paradise (1951) has a rich man (Hugh Griffith) leave 50,000 pounds (a few hundred thousands dollars or more now) two four relatives still alive (including Sim) to vie for the money by doing something for a month each of them would never do. Fay Compton, Guy Middleton and George Cole co-star in a work that plays somewhere between a movie and a sitcom, but has some fun moments.

Frank Launder's The Belles Of St. Trinian's (1954) has Sim playing a man and an older-accessorized old woman in a girl's school whose students are already more interested in boys and fun than learning, then two new gals show up and things get wackier. The visual effects for placing the two Sim characters was amusing at the time, but can be rough to see today, but then you watch a film like this to see if you can find flaws. Not always funny or memorable, Hermione Baddeley and Beryl Reed are a plus, but this one is a bit uneven overall.

And finally, we have Robert Hamer's School For Scoundrels (1960) in which an annoying, obnoxious Raymond (Terry-Thomas) who has money and is showing off his Volante all the time, does his best to drive Henry Palfrey (Ian Carmichael) nuts as to not outwit the moneybags guy.

Dennis Price, Edward Chapman and Peter Jones also star. Thus, Henry goes to school to try to get the one-up on him and a teacher (Sim) has some ideas on how to turn the tables. Also with some good moments, it never goes as far as it could or should have, but you have seen this kind of comical rivalry film (and TV show for that matter) since and this is at least a classier, upscale version thereof. Thomas went on to be one of the most successful British actors of all time and this is considered one of his better roles. Wonder what happened to his car?

The 1080p black & white digital High Definition image transfer have some slight flaws here and there and can show the age of the materials used, but all four films have been as fully restored as possible with the surviving elements, usually in 1.33 X 1, but Scoundrels (the newest film, looking a tad softer than the others in some respects) is 1.66 X 1.

The PCM 2.0 Mono lossless mixes have been remastered and cleaned up as best they could be, but even when they sound good, they just cannot help but show their age, sonic limits and limits of the recording technology of the time. I cannot imagine them sounding much better and dialogue is clear for the most part, accents or not.

Extras include another nicely illustrated booklet on the films per what Film Movement has been issuing lately, while three of the discs add extras as (per the press release) follows:


  • The Girls of St. Trinian's featurette

  • Interview with film historian Geoff Brown

  • Interview with Dr. Melanie Williams, Sr. Lecturer in Film Studies, UEA

  • Interview with Alastair Sim's Daughter, Meredith McKendrick

  • Interview with Steve Chibnall, Professor of British Cinema, De Montfort University


  • Interview with Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw

  • Interview with Graham McCann, Terry-Thomas biographer

  • Interview with Chris Potter, Stephen Potter's grandson

  • School for Scoundrels restored trailer


  • Interview with Steve Chibnall, Prof. of British Cinema, De Montfort U.

  • Locations Featurette

George Roy Hill's A Little Romance (1979) is a slice of life comedy about two young people (Thelonious Bernard and a very young Diane Lane) meeting in Paris while his family is making a feature film on location there. Released in a under-discussed cycle of such like Breaking Away, Little Darlings and My Bodyguard, this was also one of the first-ever films made by Orion Pictures (they were distributed for their first few years by Warner Bros.) and Sir Lawrence Olivier is an elderly man who helps the two find each other.

Made in a relatively more innocent time, some aspects of this film have aged more than others and Olivier accidentally outacts the cast, while Arthur Hill's turn here is odd, on auto pilot and does not always fit the film. Hill also overdoes the movie references, especially when referencing his own films, a bad move, but the scenery is not bad and the film is worth a look for those interested.

If the idea was to create a parallel between movie romance the that of the youngsters, that does not totally work either, though Sally Kirkland is not bad here a Lane's mom. At least it is an interesting curio and time capsule.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer looks good and was shot well on 35mm with real anamorphic Panavision lenses. Hill knows how to use this frame and it is big screen enough. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix reproduces the original optical theatrical monophonic sound as well as it probably ever will be, including the Georges Delerue score, its fine, but you'll wish it was stereo. Many major films were actually still monophonic at the time, believe it or not.

The only extra is an Original Theatrical Trailer.

Vic (Chris Galust) is a medical transport driver, to drive those in need. Each day, everyday he has to drive, pick up and transport people. To help those who can't help themselves, but because of all this various riders needs and traffic problems he is always running late. He has to deal with complaints, odd jobs and side jobs. Be it official or not official, dealing with his boss or other officials Vic always seems to be going from bad to worse... but it's not his fault.

In Kirill Mikhanovsky's Give Me Liberty (2019), Vic is not having a good day, his (crazy) Russian grandfather nearly burns down the apartment cooking chicken, their Russians friends need a ride to a funeral, one by one each one of his clients need extra 'help' with something before even riding with Vic ...making him late and later. And on top of everything there is traffic due to a march over a shooting protest. At the end of the day people ask Vic how is he able to put up with everything? Dealing with people who don't respect him, being treated like garbage? Vic's only silver lining is for every good deed he does other begin to acknowledge Vic as someone who cares and not just someone who just following the rules or just doing their jobs.

This movie was like watching the lowest-pushed-down of people in America, the poor, the foreign immigrants, handicapped and minorities trying to live life, listening to their complaints and the crap they have to deal with everyday. But like life, all things role down hill and at the end of the day they only have each other, to help each other, to try and make things better (even if it doesn't) ...because if they don't ...then they have nothing else good in their lives. Realistic and effective.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer is consistent, but a little duller and flatter than one might like for an HD format like Blu-ray, while the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is well recorded, but limited by its low budget and dialogue-based.

Extras include Q&A with Cast and Filmmaker, Why Representation Matters, 16mm Russian Choir, poster & image galleries and trailers.

The critically acclaimed Australian sports comedy, The Merger (2018), comes out on DVD courtesy of IndiePix. Directed by Mark Grentell, the film follows a former Pro Football Player (played by Damian Callinan) who returns home after his career ends. As he adjusts to small time life, he decides to take on the position of the local sports team named The Roosters. In so doing, he reshapes the community he grew up and finds a part of himself that he thought was lost.

The film also stars Kate Mulvany, John Howard, Rafferty Grierson, Fayssal Bazzi, and Nick Cody to name a few.

The Merger is presented on standard definition anamorphically enhanced DVD with a 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a standard lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 audio mix. The film is cleanly and professionally shot but a bit compressed due to the nature of the aging DVD format.

The only Special Feature is a trailer, but you can read more ab0otu the film with our coverage of its import Blu-ray edition from Australia at this link...


The hit Canadian TV-series, Slings and Arrows: The Complete Series (2003 - 6) is brought together in its complete three season run in this new six DVD set from Acorn TV in this reissue of a previous DVD set we covered a few years ago. Packed with over four and half hours of bonus features, this is a must have for fans of the series. The show is about a decline Shakespeare theater company and its many characters behind the scenes. Mirroring in some ways the work of the infamous writer himself, this behind the play look at a struggling production is funny, ironic, and heartbreaking in the same breath.

Slings and Arrows stars Paul Gross, Mark McKinney, Martha Burns, Susan Coyne, Steven Ouimette, Don McKellar and Bob Martin. Some famous faces include Rachel McAdams and Sarah Polley.

Episodes are as follows:

Season 01 - Oliver's Dream, Geoffrey's Return, Madness in Great Ones, Outrageous Fortune, A Mirror Up to Nature, and Playing the Swan.

Season 02 - Season's End, Fallow Time, Rarer Monsters, Fair is Foul and Foul is Fair, Steeped in Blood, and Birnam Wood.

Season 03 - Divided Kingdom, Vex Not His Ghost, The Way Madness Lies, Every Inch a King, All Blessed Secrets, and The Promised End.

Slings and Arrows is presented on anamorphically enhanced standard definition DVD here with a standard 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix. All eighteen episodes that comprise the three seasons are presented here commercial free with fourteen hours total of content.

Special Features (repeating previous sets) include:

Three exclusive episode commentaries by the stars, writers, and director

Cast Interviews

Bloopers - Deleted/Extended Scenes

Song Lyrics

and 24 page booklet with linear notes for all three seasons.

Bigger fans might want to try the Blu-ray set that you still might also find at around the same price, give or take. You can read about that in another rave review at this link:


Lastly, Step By Step: The Complete Seventh & Final Season (1997 - 1998) marked the end of the long running sitcom Step By Step (1991 - 1998), which is presented here commercial free for fans in this collectible two disc edition. The show originally had a long run on ABC and was canceled due to a decline in viewership. It came back, however, after a resurgence of interest in syndication and ran for one more year, which is what we have here.

Step by Step is a Brady Bunch/Full House sort of family sitcom where Frank (Duffy) and Carol (Somers) are a married couple, each with three children of their own. The two families are a perfect mix that shows dealing parenting children over a variety of years from young to teenage. They go through many mishaps in their daily lives, but at the end of the day learn a life lesson from it.

The show stars Suzanne Somers, Patrick Duffy, Staci Keanan, Brandon Call, Angela Watson, Christine Lakin, Patrika Darbio, Christopher Lakin, Patrika Darbo, Christopher Castile, Josh Byrne, Peggy Rea, Sasha Mitchell, Kristina Meyering, Lauren Meyering, Emily Mae Young, Jason Marsden, and Bronson Pinchot.

While there aren't any extras, the show looks and sounds fine on standard definition DVD.

Presented in a 1.33 X 1 full frame aspect ratio, which was the norm before widescreen TVs and a lossy 2.0 channel Dolby Digital Stereo mix. Compression issues are evident, but fine for the format.

Episodes include Making the Grade, A Star is Born, Your Cheatin' Heart, Take This Job And..., Poetic Justice, Can't Buy Me Love, Dream Lover, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, Goodbye, Mr. Chip, Too Many Santas, Phoney Business, Goin' to the Chapel, Feet of Clay, Pain in the Class, The Half Monty, We're in the Money, Movin' On Up, And Justice For Some, and The Understudy.

While a bit dated and cheesy 1990s humor, the sitcom is easy to throw on and watch and presented fine here.

We also have covered previous DVD releases of the show on this site....

Television Favorites


Complete Sixth Season


To order either of the Warner Archive releases, A Little Romance Blu-ray and/or the Step By Step DVD, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo (Sim, Romance), Ricky Chiang (Liberty) and James Lockhart



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