THE LIKELY LADS (1976, UK) ***
dist. Anglo-EMI Film Distributors; pr co. Anglo-EMI Productions; d. Michael Tuchner; w. Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais; exec pr. Nat Cohen, Philip Collins; pr. Aida Young; ph. Tony Imi (Technicolor. 35mm. Spherical. 1.66:1); m. Mike Hugg; ed. Ralph Sheldon; ad. Robert Jones; cos. Emma Porteous; m/up. Neville Smallwood, Jan Dorman; sd. Kevin Sutton (Mono); rel. 2 April 1976 (UK); cert: PG; r/t. 90m.
cast: Rodney Bewes (Bob Ferris), James Bolam (Terry Collier), Brigit Forsyth (Thelma Ferris), Mary Tamm (Christina), Sheila Fearn (Audrey Collier), Zena Walker (Laura Windsor), Anulka Dziubinska (Dawn Windsor), Alun Armstrong (Tommy – Milkman), Judy Buxton (Iris), Vicki Michelle (Glenys), Penny Irving (Sandy), Michelle Newell (Alice), Susan Tracy (Edith Collier), Gordon Griffin (Cyril Collier), Edward Wilson (Les Ferris), Roger Avon (Joe the Landlord), Ronald Lacey (Ernie), Elizabeth Lax (Wendy – Bob’s Secretary), Linda Robson (Marsha), Ian McDiarmid (Vicar).
This spin-off from the successful TV series sees childhood pals Bewes and Bolam (as Bob and Terry) at their bickering best as Bewes attempts to come to terms with some form of mid-life crisis. Forsyth is also excellent as Bewes’ manipulative wife, Thelma, striving to find a long-term partner for Bolam. The film is episodic and allows room for the lead characters’ witty philosophical reflections on life. However, it gets caught between two stools by trying to capture the intimacy of its TV roots whilst expanding the setting with a mid-story disastrous caravan holiday. That said there is always a laugh around the corner. Attempts at broader bedroom farce are beneath the rest of the material and seem merely included to appeal to fans of many of the British sex comedies of the day. The film is at its best in its moments of nostalgia. Patchy but entertaining.
SPRING AND PORT WINE (UK, 1970) ***
Distributor: Anglo-Amalgamated Film Distributors; Production Company: Memorial Enterprises; Release Date: 19 February 1970; Filming Dates: began 28 April 1969; Running Time: 101m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1; BBFC Cert: PG.
Director: Peter Hammond; Writer: Bill Naughton (based on the stage play by Bill Naughton); Executive Producer: Roy Baird; Producer: Michael Medwin; Director of Photography: Norman Warwick; Music Composer: Douglas Gamley; Film Editor: Fergus McDonell; Casting Director: Miriam Brickman (uncredited); Production Designer: Reece Pemberton; Costumes: Elsa Fennell; Make-up: Bunty Phillips; Sound: Robin Gregory, Barry McCormick.
Cast: James Mason (Rafe Crompton), Diana Coupland (Daisy Crompton), Hannah Gordon (Florence Crompton), Susan George (Hilda Crompton), Rodney Bewes (Harold Crompton), Len Jones (Wilfred Crompton), Keith Buckley (Arthur Gasket), Avril Elgar (Betsy-Jane Duckworth), Adrienne Posta (Betty Duckworth), Frank Windsor (Ned Duckworth), Arthur Lowe (Mr. Aspinall), Marjorie Rhodes (Mrs. Gasket), Bernard Bresslaw (Lorry Driver), Joseph Greig (Allan (T.V. Man)), Christopher Timothy (Joe (T.V. Man)), Ken Parry (Pawnbroker), Reginald Green (Bowler 1), Jack Howarth (Bowler 2), Bryan Pringle (Bowler 3), John Sharp (Bowler 4).
Synopsis: A stern father and lenient mother try to deal with the ups and downs of their four children’s lives in working-class Bolton.
Comment: Bill Naughton adapted his own stage play for the big screen with this battle of wills between the generations within a northern family. The location shooting in Bolton adds a level of authenticity to a script which comes across as a little over-preachy and with a finale that doesn’t feel real. However, a game cast delivers some witty dialogue and whilst Mason was miscast, he makes a good stab at his part of the stubborn family patriarch. Bewes also scores as the insolent son who doesn’t quite have the courage of his convictions and Coupland as the wife torn between loyalty to her husband and her kids. A time capsule caught slightly out of sync.