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Best of the Adventures, The 
Written by: on May 30th, 2009

Release Date: UK, 1981 (video)
Director: Stanley Long
Writer: Michael Armstrong
Cast: Barry Evans, Christopher Neil, Adrienne Posta, Angela Scoular, Liz Fraser

DVD released: May 18th, 2009
Approximate running time: 83 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1:33:1 Fullscreen
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
Subtitles: None
DVD Release: Odeon Entertainment
Region Coding: Region 0 PAL (UK)
Retail Price: £8.99

Following the huge popularity of the ADVENTURES films on home video, filmmaker Stanley Long was inspired by such projects as THAT’S CARRY ON and THE CRAZY WORLD OF LAUREL AND HARDY to put together a feature-length compilation film of his own work. He assigned Michael Armstrong (who worked in various capacities on the series) to select the sauciest comedic moments from ADVENTURS OF A TAXI DRIVER, ADVENTURES OF A PRIVATE EYE and ADVENTURES OF A PLUMBER’S MATE which are linked together by on-screen introductions by television presenter and film critic Peter Noble. The results are as low-rent as one might expect from such a catch-penny project: from the technical aspect it is crudely edited with tacky video-generated title cards and transactions, while the wraparound material seems rushed and offers little insight and no purpose other than to tag one selection of clips to another.

THE BEST OF THE ADVENTURES is a rather pointless exercise beyond its money-spinning potential in the early days of video and if anything it damages the reputation of the series rather than applauds it. The problem with the compilation format is by chopping up the three pictures into small bite-sized sections, their charm is ultimately lost: while Long may have possessed a good idea of what would make a British audience laugh in the 70s, his sense of comic timing is slack and the humor is derived chiefly from the episodic narratives and the performances of the talented cast. Isolating the scenes and stripping them any plot context or build-up highlights how unfunny these films seem today. It also does not do the actors any justice: Adrienne Posta, for example, is a stand-out comedic player in the first two ADVENTURES installments, but viewing her scenes detached from the narratives emphasizes her lack of restraint and the performances often seem over-the-top.

With the exception of the Peter Noble linking segments (and an amusing montage of scenes from Spanish-dubbed versions of the films), there is no footage that has not already appeared in the three pictures which hardly makes this compilation film appealing. Ideally, it should have been included as a ‘bonus’ disc on the ADVENTURES box set since there is little reason to purchase the DVD on its own.

The DVD:

Considering that THE BEST OF THE ADVENTURES is a clip compilation film intended specifically for home video in 1981, it is hardly surprising that the image and sound quality are not up to the standard of the other ADVENUTRES discs that were released by Icon Entertainment. Presented fullscreen from a dated master, the picture is acceptable but rugged. The linking sections were shot on video, and appear very sharp. The film clips seem to have been sourced from old theatrical prints and contain occasional damage (there is a minor blurring effect during the first few film clips used, but this is barely noticeable). The extracts are shown open-matte, revealing extra headroom (and in once instance, a boom mike) that was masked on the letterboxed DVDs – if nothing else, these clips are a reminder of how the films have looked for years and therefore how well the Icon discs were remastered. There also seems to be some slight picture damage to the master but this only apparent in the first few minutes.

Audio is workable but unexceptional: The Peter Noble sequences are clear (with the exception of occasional location/weather noise heard on the soundtrack) while the film clips are lined is mild hiss and intermittent pops.

The most welcome element to this DVD is the informative liner notes by KEEPING THE BRITISH END UP author Simon Sheridan which offers background information on not just THE BEST OF THE ADVENTURES but also the series in general. Very enlightening and far more worthwhile than the actual feature.

THE BEST OF THE ADVENTURES is for completists and the curious only – otherwise, avoid.

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