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Category:    Home > Reviews > Crime > Comedy > Drama > Mystery > Burgulary > British TV > Raffles – The Complete Collection (1975 – 1977/Acorn Media DVD Set)

Raffles – The Complete Collection (1975 – 1977/Acorn Media DVD Set)


Picture: C     Sound: C+     Extras: C     Episodes: B



Along with detectives and spies in popular fiction came the counterpoint of anti-heroes, including the sophisticated high-society thief.  Ernest William Hornung was the brother-in-law of Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and he too created a very successful character in A. J. Raffles, a suave thief who has been played by some of the greatest actors ever, including John Barrymore, Ronald Colman and David Niven.  Anthony Valentine (Callan, The Avengers) is the most successful actor in the role, the first to play him on TV and terrific in the role.  Now, all of the British shows he did as the character are available in one DVD set from Acorn called Raffles – The Complete Collection.


In the midst of being one of the most sought-after actors in the business (TV and feature film), he did a pilot for the series in 1975 called The Amateur Cracksman, which led to the TV series.  Though it only lasted 12 episodes and one season in 1977, it is an excellent show and its arrival on DVD is one of this year’s back catalog highlights.


The episodes (including the pilot) are:


1)     The Amateur Cracksman [PILOT SHOW]

2)     The First Step

3)     A Costume Piece

4)     The Spoils Of Sacrilege

5)     The Gold Cup

6)     The Chest Of Silver

7)     The Last Laugh

8)     A Trap To Catch A Crack

9)     To Catch A Thief

10)  A Bad Night

11)  Mr. Justice Raffles

12)  Home Affairs

13)  The Gift Of The Emperor

14)  An Old Flame



Philip Mackie wrote the teleplay adaptations from four published works from 1899 to 1905.  These are well cast and well directed, including some key actors in some shows.  The pilot has the debut of Christopher Strauli as Raffles assistant Bunny Manders, who was also in every episode of the show.  He and Valentine are perfectly matched and totally convincing.  Michael Barrington and Anthony Dawes also are in the cast.  #3 has Brian Glover and Jill Gascoine as guest stars, while #11 has Charles Dance.  Hornung (who also created Stingaree) created a classic character that influenced everything from Simon Templar/The Saint, to James Bond, to Adam Adamant, to Alfred Hitchcock.  This series is an enduring representation of why and is highly recommended.


The 1.33 X 1 image was just about totally shot on analog professional PAL videotape and like Tom Baker Dr. Who episodes, was among the earliest shows that did this (versus shooting some of the footage, usually outdoor scenes, in 16mm film only happening in a few very brief cases).  The result is some good color, some good shots and some flawed footage throughout, but it holds up well considering its age.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is a little rough on the pilot, but sounds better on the regular episodes.  Extras include text on Hornung and production notes.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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