BY TIM GREAVES
In the early 1970s celebrated purveyors of screen terror Hammer Films went through a phase of adapting popular British television sitcoms into big screen romps. This included churning out at no less than three On the Buses escapades as well as one-offs for Man About the House, Nearest and Dearest, That's Your Funeral and Love Thy Neighbour. The latter four were directed by John Robins who, glancing at his CV, largely forged his career out of light comedy. Where most of these films were fairly weak in terms of entertainment, they were never less than money-spinning. Love Thy Neighbour, a box office hit upon its original release, has just been gifted Blu-Ray status by Network as part of their continuing "The British Film" collection, though whether it's a film deserving of such lavish treatment is open to debate.
Love Thy Neighbour started life in 1972 as a primetime ITV sitcom and ended up running for 56 episodes across 7 series spanning 4 years. Created by Vince Powell and Harry Driver (who wrote the lion's share of the televised episodes) it revolved around the conflict between two next door neighbours, working-class white socialist bigot Eddie Booth (Jack Smethurst) and educated black conservative Bill Reynolds (Rudolph Walker), along with the more amicable relationship between their long-suffering wives, Joan (Kate Williams) and Barbie (Nina Baden-Semper). The root of the problem between the husbands was Eddie's stubbornly racist mind-set (though it could be selective when the moment was propitious; he certainly had a roving eye where Bill's shapely wife Barbie was concerned) and the constant squabbles derived therefrom. With the two protagonists frequently hurling insults at each other (which I shall refrain from quoting here!), using language that simply wouldn't be permitted on mainstream television today, 21st century viewers would probably be aghast. But back in the day the programme was enormously popular and frequently topped the weekly ratings. Additionally, those who retrospectively accuse the show itself of being racist tend to overlook the fact that for all Eddie's unforgivably offensive remarks towards Bill (which, admittedly, viewers were being invited to laugh at), most of the time the guys rubbed along quite well, and Bill not only gave as good as he got, he usually came out on top, the emphasis falling upon just how foolish Eddie's small-mindedness was.
Three series had already been screened by the time Hammer's film rolled into cinemas in the summer of 1973. Starring all four of its television incarnation’s leads and again scripted by Powell and Driver, it doesn't waste any time with introductory faff, working instead on the safe assumption that audiences by and large would already be familiar with the characters. There's no real plot as such either, just several intertwined storylines (each of which could have stood alone as a series episode) – the guys get caught out by their wives when they attend a boozy striptease show; the guys fall out over union matters in the factory where they work; the guys' elderly parents (Patricia Hayes and Charles Hyatt) meet and get along famously, much to their sons' mutual chagrin. The results make for a mildly amusing if unremarkable time-passer that's very much of its era and the appeal of which nowadays will boil down to how offended one is (or is not) by the writers' efforts to milk laughs from both the pervasive racial disharmony and the derogatory insults tossed around with abandon.
Network's Blu-Ray release presents viewers with the option of watching the film in its 1.66:1 theatrical ratio or open matte 4:3. Although the latter opens up picture information top and bottom, it isn't in high definition – in fact it's exceptionally poor definition – so having shelled out the extra £s to own the film in pristine form, I'd suggest few people are likely to want to watch it that way. The disc also includes a release trailer and an image gallery comprising production photos, artwork and promotional materials from the film's original release. It has been simultaneously issued on DVD.
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True enthusiasts will be pleased to learn that Network has released the entire TV series as a 9-platter box set too, packed with bonus enticements that include the never aired pilot (in essence what would later become the opening episode, only featuring Gwendolyn Watts instead of Kate Williams as Eddie's wife), several Christmas and New Year TV specials...and Hammer's big screen film!
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Его редеющие седые волосы спутались, и даже несмотря на прохладу, создаваемую мощным кондиционером, на лбу у него выступили капельки пота. Его костюм выглядел так, будто он в нем спал. Стратмор сидел за современным письменным столом с двумя клавиатурами и монитором в расположенной сбоку нише. Стол был завален компьютерными распечатками и выглядел каким-то чужеродным в этом задернутом шторами помещении. - Тяжелая неделя? - спросила .