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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Satire > British > Horror > Vampire > Old Mother Riley series (1938 – 1952/Six Films/VCI DVD Set)

Old Mother Riley series (1938 – 1952/Six Films/VCI DVD Set)


Picture: C     Sound: C     Extras: D     Films: C+



From 1936 to 1952, actor Arthur Lucan played the somewhat wacky Irish spinster known as Old Mother Riley in a very successful series of British B-movie comedies.  Not seen by many in the U.S. since the 1970s, VCI Entertainment has issued six of the films, including the last four of 17 films made in a new DVD set that is the latest of their impressive British Cinema Collection series and they include:


Old Mother Riley in Paris (1938)

Old Mother Riley, MP (1939)

Old Mother Riley’s New Venture (1949)

Old Mother Riley, Headmistress (1950)

Old Mother Riley’s Jungle Adventure (1951)

Mother Riley Meets The Vampire (1952)



Influential and inspirational for other in-drag comedy since, the series survived WWII and might have lasted longer if Lucan had not passed away at an early age.  Lucan’s real life wife Kitty McShane was his co-star throughout the series, though they became estranged in the end.  Still, they had amusing chemistry and before TV sitcoms were a hit on both sides of the Atlantic, this was a hit comedy series that continued on TV in syndication in TV’s early days filling in almost the same purpose.


The films are about even in quality today, have good actors throughout you might not recognize and some will recognize Sebastian Cabot (from U.S. TV’s hit sitcom Family Affair) as different characters in the 1949 and 1951 films here.  The final film, also know as Vampire Over London, has Bela Lugosi once again sending up Dracula and is directed by John Gilling, who worked on dozens of episodes of ITC action TV series in the 1960s like The Saint.


All are quality, goofy fun that have aged in odd ways and if you like such comedy, you’ll want to check out.  It had its moments, but each can be uneven, but other times fun.  Hope we see more of them soon.


The 1.33 X 1 black and white image on all six films have been cleaned up as much as possible, but detail is lacking because the prints are older (maybe some are 16mm?) and at least all have good Video Black for this format.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono in all cases definitely show their age and these did not have the largest budgets to begin with, but despite some unintelligible dialogue, are not awful.  Expect some compression too.  There are no extras.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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