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Anchor Bay presents
The Young Ones (1961)

"I've got an idea. Suppose we put on a show."
- Nicky Black (Cliff Richard)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: May 30, 2002

Stars: Cliff Richard, Robert Morley, Carole Gray, The Shadows
Other Stars: Teddy Green, Richard O'Sullivan, Melvin Hayes, Annette Robertson, Teddy Green, Sonya Cordeau
Director: Sidney J. Furie

Manufacturer: Crest National
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mild violence)
Run Time: 01h:48m:16s
Release Date: May 21, 2002
UPC: 013131166293
Genre: musical


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ CAB+ B+

DVD Review

Although hardly known in the United States, Cliff Richard is one of the biggest musical stars in Britain, with an astonishing 120 Top Ten singles to his credit. Following in Elvis' footsteps, Richard made a series of musicals, of which The Young Ones is the first. An enormous hit in Britain, it didn't play in its original form in the States but was recut with different music by Burt Bacharach inserted. Anchor Bay presents here the first American release of the picture in its proper original form.

Swiping its story shamelessly from the Judy Garland-Mickey Rooney vehicle Babes in Arms, this picture is yet another variant on "Let's put on a show." The motivating force here is the Simpkins Youth Club, a hut in downtown London that is to be demolished for a new office block by financier/developer Hamilton Black (Robert Morley). The kids, led by Nicky Black (Richard), discover that they can block this mishap by renewing the master lease on the property, but to do so would require £1500. Using a variety of tactics, including pirate radio broadcasts from a fruit cart, the kids take on the Establishment to raise the money to save their club. Complicating factors is the fact that Nicky is Hamilton Black's son, though the kids don't know that. Father and son take it as a challenge to outwit the other for their own goals.

Although it has its desperately hokey moments, there's also a genuine energy and good feeling to this picture that helps it survive even in this cynical day. Richard isn't what one would call a great actor, but he is capable and definitely charismatic enough to carry the picture without being Olivier. He's helped by a gleefully capitalist performance by Morley, who is extremely funny in his scheming. The supporting cast is mostly dancers, but Melvyn Hayes and Richard O'Sullivan as two of the kids are agreeably amusing. The only threatening element is Teddy Green as Chris, a construction worker who is oddly the focus of the opening production number, rather than Richard, and Green has a bit of the teddy boy edge to him. But even the thugs are nice guys here.

By and large the choreography by Herbert Ross is quite well done. Obviously influenced by West Side Story, it favors big production numbers in the old MGM musical style in an urban setting. Oddly enough, the fight sequence choreography is completely inept, with punches obviously nowhere near the chins of actors who go flying. As well, much of the non-Richard singing is quite poor, with vocals on a par with Lee Marvin in Paint Your Wagon. There's also some dreadfully poor looping of dialogue and odd continuity glitches from shot to shot that I found distracting.

The picture was a huge success, however, and had its influence paving the way for A Hard Days' Night and Help! (indeed, director Lurie in the commentary mentions that he was offered A Hard Days' Night). It also inspired a notorious short-lived anarchic British comedy series by the same title (and indeed, swiping the title song as its main theme), which made numerous references to Richard and this picture. Even today, the original Austin Powers film borrows its opening sequence from the opening of The Young Ones, with all the bright young things doing a production number down Carnaby Street in obvious homage to this picture.

There are numerous musical head scratchers (such as where exactly the kids got a full orchestra for their show). And don't really ask why the wealthy Nicky didn't just pay the £1500 to save the club. But for a pleasant little musical that's agreeably good-natured and has some good numbers and decent comedy you could do a whole lot worse than The Young Ones.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: C

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: The anamorphic widescreen 2.35:1 picture looks very nice indeed. The colors are dazzingly bright and nicely saturated, and detail is generally razor sharp. In one bit a young woman wears a fuzzy sweater and the detail visible there is quite striking indeed. Black levels and shadow detail are first-rate. Only the rarest speckle detracts from the picture, which looks as if it were shot four years ago, not forty. The one significant drawback is that there are some jaggies visible, notably in an upward pan against a skyscraper, but these only occur a few times and don't detract from the overall excellence of the picture.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishno


Audio Transfer Review: The 2.0 mono sound is very nice. There is no hiss or noise at all. The range is decent, though there is not much in the way of deep bass to be heard. The musical numbers are bright and open with perfectly acceptable song. I didn't detect any distortion of any kind. In particular, the instrumental, The Savage, by Richard's backup band, The Shadows, sounds great.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 26 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 12 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
Production Notes
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Sidney J. Furie, filmmaker Paul M. Lynch, moderated by journalist Waylon Wahl
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The director, Sidney J. Furie, contributes a very interesting commentary for the picture, although he initially sounds ill-prepared, not having seen the film in over 30 years. He eventually warms up to his subject, waxing forth on the film, Richard and Morley, his fondness for shooting anamorphic Cinemascope, his love for the DVD format, shooting musicals, deflating the auteur theory, lighting and editing forty years ago as opposed to the present day, and life in Britain in the early 1960s. Journalist Waylon Wahl does a good job of bringing a variety of topics out, and helps things along. Paul Lynch is along for the ride and doesn't really add much, although he does fill in a few details on the cast and crew that Furie has forgotten. This is an above average commentary that definitely adds to the appreciation of the picture. After all, how many directors of movie musicals are still around to record a commentary?

Wrapping up the package are a lengthy trailer (with the most unfortunately dated tagline of all time:The gayest movie ever made!) and a fairly detailed bio of Richard. It tends to skim rather quickly over his career since the mid-1960s, however, with most of the emphasis on his earlier success. A very abbreviated filmography caps it all off.

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

A pleasant enough little movie that nicely showcases Cliff Richard as was intended. The transfer is very nice, with outstanding color and black levels and a decent transfer of the original mono. A very informative commentary leads the pack of a nice set of extras. Definitely worth checking out.

 


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