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Friday, January 8, 2016

'Steptoe & Son Ride Again' DVD: Big Dummy Horse Trading Leads to Insurance Fraud

[EDITOR'S NOTE: This Region-Four DVD from Australia will not play in a standard U.S. player; watching it requires a well-worth buying international player.]

The Madman Entertainment DVD release of the 1973 feature film "Steptoe and Son Ride Again" is part of the awesome (and oft-reviewed) Britannia film collection series from Madman. This library consists of both theatrical versions of classic Britcoms (many of which inspire classic U.S. sitcoms) and pilots of shouldabeenaseries pilots. In this case, "Steptoe" provides the basis for the Norman Lear series "Sanford and Son." A review of the Britannia DVD of the first "Steptoe" film ran in November 2015.

A wonderful homage in "Ride" to the "Steptoe" series has "Are You Being Served" veteran Frank Thornton playing a supporting role. The pre "Served" career of Thornton includes playing bit parts in episodes of "Steptoe" the series.

Before tackling the topic of the day, it is worth noting that the current production of the "Absolutely Fabulous" movie indirectly reflects the good caliber of the Britannia movies. The proverbial sources note that the Ab Fab project is a result of the success of the two film versions of the HILARIOUS modern Britcom "The Inbetweeners," which depicts the lives of four golden lads. "The Inbetweeners" films in turn reflect the success of the movies that comprise the Britannia catalog.

The Fred and Lamont of "Steptoe" are senior citizen Albert and his adult son Harold, who are partners in the titular rag and bones (a.k.a. junk) business in England that they operate out of their shared home. The awesomeness of this bizarro "Sanford" includes the sniping and the overall situations being even more entertaining than in their tales of their American cousins.

The silent film style music that accompanies the opening scenes of "Ride" is very apt for the amusing slapstick that starts the action. This revolves around the wonderfully filthy and unethical Albert trying to steal chickens from the neighbor.

The first act of the film has a very amusing mishap hasten the need to put beloved cart horse Hercules out to pasture; a variation of "Jack and the Beanstalk" has Harold diverting the entire cash reserves of the family from purchasing a new horse. The alternate buy is a racing greyhound.

Anyone who has seen a sitcom from any country knows that the get-rich-quick scheme in the form of racing the dog goes awry; the portion of "Ride" devoted to this is involves great absurd humor.

The third scene finds our father-and-son heroes joining forces to perpetrate insurance fraud. Of course, hilarity ensues regarding this as well and results in even more wonderful slapstick than the antics that open the film.

The handful of DVD special features include the original trailer for "Ride" and .pdf versions of the script and the press materials for the film.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Ride" is strongly encouraged to email me. you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.