Restored Ealing comedies released in digital HD for the first time
James R | On 10, Jun 2015
Two restored Ealing comedies will be released on digital in the UK for the first time this month.
Ealing Studios made more than 150 films over a three decade period, making them a cherished and significant part of British film history. Now, two of their releases – including one of their first comedies after the war – have been digitally restored to return them to their pristine original picture quality ready for individual release in June 2015.
The Magnet and Hue and Cry will be released separately on DVD, Blu-ray and EST (electronic sell-through) platforms this month. While they have been available on disc before, this will be the first time that they have been available to download.
Ealing’s comedies captured the essence of post-war Britain, both in their evocation of a land once blighted by war but now rising doggedly and optimistically again from the ashes, and in their mordant yet graceful humour.
The restoration was funded by Studiocanal in collaboration with the BFI’s Unlocking Film Heritage programme. Part of the BFI’s Britain on Film project, designed to recapture British films with a strong sense of place, they both help to define the landscape of the UK. The Magnet was set and shot largely in and around New Brighton, Wirral, Cheshire and Liverpool and at Ealing Studios. Hue and Cry was shot almost entirely on location in Post-War London.
The Magnet, directed Charles Fend, stars James Fox in his screen debut as 10-year-old Johnny Brent, who tricks a young boy to swap him a toy magnet for his ‘invisible watch’. Troubled afterwards by his conscience, Johnny rids himself of the magnet, presenting it to a charitable fund. When news of this touching sacrifice by an unknown child appeals to the imagination of the sentimental public, the magnet is auctioned for charity and raises several hundred pounds. This leads to a search to find the donor, and when Johnny learns of this he concludes that is wanted by the police for obtaining the magnet by false pretences, prompting him to go on the run.
The film is Academy Award winner T.E.B. Clarke (The Lavender Hill Mob), and co-stars Stephen Murray (A Tale of Two Cities) and Kay Walsh (Oliver Twist),
The film will be released on Monday 15th June. Extras will include an introduction by Film Historian Steve Chibnall and a stills gallery.
Hue and Cry, directed by Charles Cricthton, is acknowledged as something of a milestone in British cinema as one of the first Ealing comedies.
It follows Joe, a London East End kid, who is addicted to a boy’s adventure weekly called The Trump. He begins to suspect that a series of burglaries somehow are related to the weekly storyline, that there are hidden messages in the story that tell gang members the place and time of the next store to be hit. Harry convinces the other boys in the neighborhood and they go to the cops. When the police don’t believe them, they set out on their own to stop the gang and capture the ringleader.
Renowned DoP Douglas Slocombe captures and documents the post-war, bombed-out city, complete with adventurous, free-roaming children playing among the rubble.
The film will be released on Monday 29th June. Extras will include an introduction by Steve Chibnall and a featurette about the film’s location featurette.