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Cliff Richard DVD Collection - The Young Ones / Summer Holiday / Wonderful Life DVD

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The three nostalgic British musicals in the Cliff Richard DVD Collection are a good reminder that, thanks to a few short years in the 1960s, Sir Cliff can legitimately include "film star" on his already exceptional show business CV. The Young Ones (1961), Summer Holiday (1963) and Wonderful Life (1964) would make tame fare for a teen audience today, but they retain a polished and honest charm which might surprise the sharpest of cynics. First and foremost, of course, they were Cliff Richard vehicles: designed to showcase his all-round talents and capitalise on his first, heady wave of pop chart success. They are also unashamed homages to the heyday of the MGM B-musical with familiar themes: let's put on a show/save the youth club/make a film. But with up-and-coming directors Sidney Furie and Peter Yates making imaginative and sophisticated use of wide-angle camera work and fresh, snappy choreography by Herbert Ross and Gillian Lynne, they also have plenty of assets other than Cliff's wholesome appeal. There are some fine set pieces and surreal flashes, notably the history of cinema in Wonderful Life and the extraordinary mime sequence in Summer Holiday. They also tap into the very British energy of a group of young actors and dancers including Una Stubbs, Susan Hampshire, Melvyn Hayes and Richard O'Sullivan, as well as Cliff's band at the time, The Shadows. For sheer verve, they deserve to be seen on their own merits. On the DVD: The Cliff Richard DVD Collection has been pristinely restored; the colours and clarity, not to mention the use of Cinemascope, leap off the screen (aspect ratio 2.35:1). The mono soundtrack recreates the authentic bandbox sound of the 1960s. Aside from theatrical trailers, the most notable extras are directors' commentaries: actually Furie and Yates in occasionally long-winded conversation with film and music writers. Both men give fascinating insight into the film-making climate in Britain in the early 1960s.--Piers Ford

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