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Penny Points to Paradise / Let's Go Crazy
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • English PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • The Slappiest Days of Our Lives, rare feature-length silent comedy clip compilation, with a flight-of-fancy voiceover commentary by Peter Sellers
  • Fully illustrated booklet with detailed film notes and original promotional materials

Penny Points to Paradise / Let's Go Crazy

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Tony Young
Starring: Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan, Harry Secombe
2009 | 182 Minutes

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: £22.99 | Series: The Adelphi Collection
BFI Video

Release Date: August 3, 2009
Review Date: July 31, 2009

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SYNOPSIS

Unavailable for decades, Penny Points to Paradise - considered by Peter Sellers as his film debut - sees all three Goons beside the seaside in a cheap and cheerful comic escapade climaxing in Brighton waxworks.

Shot immediately afterwards, Let's Go Crazy is a madcap selection of variety turns, interspersed with zany improvised sketches by Sellers and Milligan.

For many years something of a missing link in British comedy history, but now rescued and restored by the BFI National Archive, these rare films are a must-have for all vintage comedy fans.

Discuss the film and Blu-ray here   


PICTURE

For their first release in their new ďAdelphi CollectionĒ BFI Video presents the two films Penny Points to Paradise and Letís Go Crazy (a short feature made just after the completion of the other film) both in their original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this dual-layer Blu-ray disc. The image for both is also presented in 1080p.

While itís certainly not going to truly impress people at first the transfer here is actually amazing when one considers the task at hand. Iím only somewhat familiar with the main feature, Penny Points to Paradise (meaning Iíve heard of it,) but I had no idea about the rather complicated history of it. The original version (which is what is available here) was a flop and years later, to cash in on Peter Sellersí success, the film was drastically cut down and then had some of Sellersí bits from Letís Go Crazy edited into it (the film apparently had a total running time of 58-minutes, 13-minutes shorter than the longer version.) To restore both versions the producers of this disc had to search far and wide for the best elements, having to piece together the film from multiple sources, most of the transfer coming from 35mm copies. Unfortunately some scenes were still missing and they had to go to 16mm sources for the rest.

And considering all of this the picture quality is far better than what one would expect. Throughout a majority of Penny Points to Paradise damage is quite minimal in both films, limited to a bit of debris or a vertical line or two showing up. The only moments that really stand out are the moments where a 16mm source has to be used, these scenes looking a little less detailed and with far more grain than the rest of the film. These moments can a be a little jarring but are infrequent. Letís Go Crazy has more noticeable debris I felt but itís been extensively cleaned up.

The digital transfer itself is fairly decent between both films. Sharpness and detail is solid with a few moments of looking soft (but this may have more to do with the source elements than the digital transfer.) Contrast looked a little off to me in Penny Points to Paradise, looking a little brighter like its been boosted somewhat. Letís Go Crazy looks better in this regard.

Again I must commend BFI for the work that went into these films, specifically going out there and gathering up the most complete version they could and then seeing fit to give it a new, fairly clean high-definition transfer and then putting it out on blu-ray.

While a UK release the disc is region free and should play on all Blu-ray players (it works in my PS3.)

7/10

We currently do not have Blu-ray captures for this title but are in the process of gathering captures for all of our Blu-ray reviews. Please check back again soon.

AUDIO

Both films come with lossless mono tracks that are adequate for the films. Dialogue is fine, easy to hear and understand, but thatís about it. The booklet suggests that the audio was no easy feat as well and the track is probably limited by the source materials. Itís a little flat and edgy, music sounding a bit rough. It gets the job done but thatís about it.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

BFI has taken a bit of an opportunity here to look at the early work of Peter Sellers (and his fellow Goons Harry Secombe and Spike Milligan.) Not only does the disc include the 71-minute feature film Penny Points to Paradise and the short 33-minute film Letís Go Crazy they have also included The Slappiest Days of Our Lives, a 76-minute 1953 feature with Sellers acting as narrator. Itís a rather bizarre project, a French production that edited together a large amount of silent film footage (featuring Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, and numerous others) into a single narrative that finds Stan Laurel (more or less) touring America. This production was then picked up by Adelphi Films, who then re-edited it and added in new voice acting and narration. Itís an amusing piece, not great, but itís more fascinating as a representation of Sellersí earlier work, showing his knack for creating multiple characters and voices.

While this feature is presented in 1080p and has also been given a lossless audio track it has had very little, if anything, in the way of a restoration.

And typical of BFI Video we get a rather wonderful booklet included with this release. Inside youíll first find an essay by Vic Pratt on the filmís history and the multiple sources they had to sort through to get a complete version of the film, an essay on Sellers and The Goon Show by Mark J. Cousins, a short piece by Kate Lees on Adelphi Films, and then a break down by Kieron Webb on what source materials were used to reconstruct the films. Like all BFI booklets Iíve come across so far itís an excellent read.

Disappointingly nothing else appears. It would have been interesting to see the more common, shorter version of Penny Points to Paradise, though that could be pushing it, and while I am a long time Sellers fan I wish there was more about Milligan and Secombe in the set. But I must say while I didnít think The Slappiest Days of Our Lives was a great film it was certainly still a fascinating piece and Iím glad they dug it up.

5/10

CLOSING

BFI have yet again put together a rather intriguing release. I canít say the films themselves are altogether that special, probably only interesting as an early look at Sellers and the other members of The Goon Show, but theyíve put a lot of work into this one, restoring the films as best as they could and delivering them in surprisingly good high-definition transfers. The two main features look fairly striking when one considers all theyíve been through. And with the inclusion of another full feature the disc is certainly a bargain. I feel sort of bad that I canít fully recommend it to those that may have a passing interest, but I think fans of the Goons or fans of Sellers would certainly be happy with picking up this release.




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